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Day out at Historic Berkeley Castle

Berkeley Castle is the oldest continuously occupied castle in England after the Tower of London and Windsor Castle, and infact the oldest building to be continuously owned and occupied by the same family. It is truly unique in that for more than 860 years the town and Castle, its contents and records, and the family themselves have all remained intact, no small feat if you consider the politics and battles England has seen across those centuries.

 

The kids and I recently spent the day at Berkeley Castle. Berkeley is a small town located between Bristol and Gloucester, in the county of Gloucestershire, on the edge of the Cotswolds and situated on the Severn Estuary. The Castle is one of the March Castles, built to keep out the Welsh, and is defensive in design. Its location so close to the River Severn may well be the secret of its success, as rather than just relying on a moat like many of its contemporaries, Berkeley castle had a system of ditches across the estate which allowed for all the land surrounding the castle to be flooded as a defense.

Berkeley Castle is the oldest continuously occupied castle in England after the Tower of London and Windsor Castle, and infact the oldest building to be continuously owned and occupied by the same family. It is truly unique in that for more than 860 years the town and Castle, its contents and records, and the family themselves have all remained intact, no small feat if you consider the politics and battles England has seen across those centuries.

Berkeley Castle is the oldest continuously occupied castle in England after the Tower of London and Windsor Castle, and infact the oldest building to be continuously owned and occupied by the same family. It is truly unique in that for more than 860 years the town and Castle, its contents and records, and the family themselves have all remained intact, no small feat if you consider the politics and battles England has seen across those centuries.

Berkeley Castle is the oldest continuously occupied castle in England after the Tower of London and Windsor Castle, and infact the oldest building to be continuously owned and occupied by the same family. It is truly unique in that for more than 860 years the town and Castle, its contents and records, and the family themselves have all remained intact, no small feat if you consider the politics and battles England has seen across those centuries. The first record of a Castle at Berkeley was a wooden fort on top of a mound in 1070 shortly after the Norman Conquest. Between then and 1340 stone towers and walls were added and the castle remodeled into what we can see now. You don't need to use your imagination to picture how life must have been at Berkeley Castle, the minute you enter you are surrounded by the most beautiful medieval interiors, and are transported straight back in time.

Berkeley Castle is the oldest continuously occupied castle in England after the Tower of London and Windsor Castle, and infact the oldest building to be continuously owned and occupied by the same family. It is truly unique in that for more than 860 years the town and Castle, its contents and records, and the family themselves have all remained intact, no small feat if you consider the politics and battles England has seen across those centuries.

Berkeley Castle is the oldest continuously occupied castle in England after the Tower of London and Windsor Castle, and infact the oldest building to be continuously owned and occupied by the same family. It is truly unique in that for more than 860 years the town and Castle, its contents and records, and the family themselves have all remained intact, no small feat if you consider the politics and battles England has seen across those centuries.

The castle, as you would expect, has an amazing history. It is best known as the scene of the brutal murder of Edward II in 1327 and for being besieged by Parliamentary troops in 1645. It is also where the Barons of the West gathered before setting out to the momentous meeting with King John at Runnymede at which the Magna Carta was signed. Numerous Kings and Queens have stayed at Berkeley during its long history, It is said on one occasion Queen Elizabeth left in such a huff after being criticised by the lord of the castle that she left her bedspread behind. Francis Drake, Queen Elizabeth's most famous sea captain, was also a regular visitor to Berkeley. The castle's treasures reflect its illustrious past. The tapestries and paintings are stunning, in fact it is all stunning; the first thing my son said when we entered was 'I know, we're not allowed to touch anything'.

Berkeley Castle is the oldest continuously occupied castle in England after the Tower of London and Windsor Castle, and infact the oldest building to be continuously owned and occupied by the same family. It is truly unique in that for more than 860 years the town and Castle, its contents and records, and the family themselves have all remained intact, no small feat if you consider the politics and battles England has seen across those centuries.

Berkeley Castle is the oldest continuously occupied castle in England after the Tower of London and Windsor Castle, and infact the oldest building to be continuously owned and occupied by the same family. It is truly unique in that for more than 860 years the town and Castle, its contents and records, and the family themselves have all remained intact, no small feat if you consider the politics and battles England has seen across those centuries.

When we visited, you could join an optional guided tour with a castle volunteer. We didn't, as the kids are better moving at their own pace. We picked up explorer sheets, which kept the children busy looking for facts in each of the rooms. During the holidays, activities are put on for children, and the day we visited there was a Jester (who was lovely) teaching circus skills which the kids loved! There was also a staffed arts and crafts area, and a dressing up area to visit which looked fun.

Berkeley Castle is the oldest continuously occupied castle in England after the Tower of London and Windsor Castle, and infact the oldest building to be continuously owned and occupied by the same family. It is truly unique in that for more than 860 years the town and Castle, its contents and records, and the family themselves have all remained intact, no small feat if you consider the politics and battles England has seen across those centuries.

Berkeley Castle is the oldest continuously occupied castle in England after the Tower of London and Windsor Castle, and infact the oldest building to be continuously owned and occupied by the same family. It is truly unique in that for more than 860 years the town and Castle, its contents and records, and the family themselves have all remained intact, no small feat if you consider the politics and battles England has seen across those centuries.

Below is the room where Edward II was imprisoned before his alleged murder, now almost 700 years ago, and the covered walkway that leads to this room.  At the time it was reported to parliament that Edward had met with an unfortunate accident, but the general consensus is that he was killed.  Some historians put forward the theory that he escaped, with another man being murdered in his place.  Whichever story is true there is no doubt that these walls have seen a lot of intrigue throughout their long lives!

Berkeley Castle is the oldest continuously occupied castle in England after the Tower of London and Windsor Castle, and infact the oldest building to be continuously owned and occupied by the same family. It is truly unique in that for more than 860 years the town and Castle, its contents and records, and the family themselves have all remained intact, no small feat if you consider the politics and battles England has seen across those centuries.

Berkeley Castle is the oldest continuously occupied castle in England after the Tower of London and Windsor Castle, and infact the oldest building to be continuously owned and occupied by the same family. It is truly unique in that for more than 860 years the town and Castle, its contents and records, and the family themselves have all remained intact, no small feat if you consider the politics and battles England has seen across those centuries.

We all loved the spectacular kitchens, and associated rooms.  The kids looked at me as though I had two heads when I put forward the idea that a child would have sat turning the spit all day in front of the fire.  They were fascinated to see the lead lined sinks, as they know that lead is poisonous.

Berkeley Castle is the oldest continuously occupied castle in England after the Tower of London and Windsor Castle, and infact the oldest building to be continuously owned and occupied by the same family. It is truly unique in that for more than 860 years the town and Castle, its contents and records, and the family themselves have all remained intact, no small feat if you consider the politics and battles England has seen across those centuries.

Berkeley Castle is the oldest continuously occupied castle in England after the Tower of London and Windsor Castle, and infact the oldest building to be continuously owned and occupied by the same family. It is truly unique in that for more than 860 years the town and Castle, its contents and records, and the family themselves have all remained intact, no small feat if you consider the politics and battles England has seen across those centuries.

The Castle is surrounded by terraced gardens, some of which, including the stunning lily pond, date back to Elizabethan times.  The kids loved the fact that they might be walking in Queen Elizabeth's I steps.  I suspect that she may have walked rather more sedately than my two!

Berkeley Castle is the oldest continuously occupied castle in England after the Tower of London and Windsor Castle, and infact the oldest building to be continuously owned and occupied by the same family. It is truly unique in that for more than 860 years the town and Castle, its contents and records, and the family themselves have all remained intact, no small feat if you consider the politics and battles England has seen across those centuries.

Berkeley Castle is the oldest continuously occupied castle in England after the Tower of London and Windsor Castle, and infact the oldest building to be continuously owned and occupied by the same family. It is truly unique in that for more than 860 years the town and Castle, its contents and records, and the family themselves have all remained intact, no small feat if you consider the politics and battles England has seen across those centuries.

We had a wonderful day out at Berkeley Castle, and would highly recommend it to everyone.  There are tea rooms in the grounds, where we had a yummy lunch, and a Butterfly house which is included in the entrance ticket.  There are also plenty of other places to visit in and around Berkeley; Edward Jenner's house (The man who developed the smallpox vaccine) is located next to the castle, Cattle Country Adventure Park and Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetland Trust are both just up the road, as is the River Severn and the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal.

 

Berkeley Castle is the oldest continuously occupied castle in England after the Tower of London and Windsor Castle, and infact the oldest building to be continuously owned and occupied by the same family. It is truly unique in that for more than 860 years the town and Castle, its contents and records, and the family themselves have all remained intact, no small feat if you consider the politics and battles England has seen across those centuries.

Berkeley Castle is the oldest continuously occupied castle in England after the Tower of London and Windsor Castle, and infact the oldest building to be continuously owned and occupied by the same family. It is truly unique in that for more than 860 years the town and Castle, its contents and records, and the family themselves have all remained intact, no small feat if you consider the politics and battles England has seen across those centuries.

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26 Comments

  • Reply Cindy Magee

    WOWOWOW! That is amazing! I love seeing historical sites especially ones that are over a 1000 year old!!!

    March 30, 2016 at 1:09 am
    • Reply Sarah - Craft Invaders

      It is beautiful isn’t it Cindy, imagine all the drama and intrigue those walls have seen. Must be an amazing place to live 🙂

      April 1, 2016 at 9:35 pm
  • Reply Mary-the boondocks blog

    What a beautiful castle and a great place to take the kids. My daughter is an English history buff by way of all the tv movies and series. And if I asked her who Eduward II was she would probably be able to share his whole lineage with me. I’m going to share this with her. Your photos are really beautiful!
    Mary-the boondocks blog recently posted…Flowers for Spring in Greece – Int’l Bloggers Club ChallengeMy Profile

    March 29, 2016 at 9:27 am
    • Reply Sarah - Craft Invaders

      Thanks Mary, my kids are mad on History too. Over here in the UK there’s a kids programme called horrible histories and it’s amazing – the kids cant get enough of it. If you and your daughter ever come to the UK, you’ll have to let me know and I’ll take you x

      April 1, 2016 at 9:49 pm
  • Reply Nikki Frank-Hamilton

    Sarah, You are right! I loved it. How exciting to walk and breath the air in the same building as all of these historical figures. And it’s in a castle, I real castle! Then throw in the Jester! I would have been in heaven. Thanks so much for letting me spend the day with you, vicariously! And I love the history that you provided. These walls have seen so much. Amazing!
    Nikki Frank-Hamilton recently posted…Be Different, Be Extraordinary-Week 42My Profile

    October 17, 2015 at 6:45 pm
    • Reply Sarah

      I knew you would – I know you love reading about different places and new ideas:) The Jester was fab! Ironically enough, in the hall that the Jester was teaching us circus skill in is the spot where the last court jester in England died when he tumbled from the minstrel’s gallery in 1728. He is buried in Berkeley as his tomb is inscribed…

      HERE LIES THE EARL OF SUFFOLKS FOOL
      MEN CALLED HIM DICKY PEARCE
      HIS FOLLY SERVED TO MAKE FOLKS LAUGH
      WHEN WIT AND MIRTH WERE SCARCE

      POOR DICK ALAS! IS DEAD AND GONE
      WHAT SIGNIFIES TO CRY!
      DICKYS ENOUGH ARE STILL BEHIND
      TO LAUGH AT BY-AND-BY

      There is one rumour that he may have been pushed as he had apparently made fun of one of Lord Berkeley’s guests who had taken offence!

      October 18, 2015 at 7:57 am
  • Reply Debs @ Super Busy Mum

    Wow as a family as LOVE places like this. This particular location looks amazing! Thanks so much for linking up! #MMWBH

    October 14, 2015 at 11:12 am
    • Reply Sarah

      It is an amazing place to visit. My daughter announced we should buy it and live there ourselves. She appears to be developing very good taste in houses lol

      October 14, 2015 at 1:55 pm
  • Reply Louise (Little Hearts, Big Love)

    That sounds like a fascinating place to visit and how amazing that it has been owned and occupied by the same family for over 800 years. So interesting to read more about the history of the castle too – I knew that Edward II was murdered there but that was about it and found it very interesting to see the photos of the room where he was kept. Adding this to my list of places to visit! 🙂

    October 3, 2015 at 11:43 am
    • Reply Sarah

      It is a fascinating building. They perform Shakespeare plays there regularly, which must be amazing in such a historic setting. They have also had re-enactments in the grounds in the past which are great fun too 🙂 Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment x

      October 3, 2015 at 1:16 pm
  • Reply Julie

    What a lovely castle and a fun adventure. Visiting areas with that much history are definitely fun times.

    September 28, 2015 at 7:00 pm
    • Reply Sarah

      Yes its beautiful isn’t it. Thanks for taking the time to comment 🙂

      September 28, 2015 at 9:05 pm
  • Reply Chloe

    I love your posts. I’m a bit of a history buff and I loved big old houses. I’d love to visit here. It’s great that your two are so enthusiastic about them so young as well. 🙂 It is crazy that they used lead sinks isn’t it and I’m shocked to hear that the castle is still with the same family that have had it for generations! That’s really rare. It looks so well kept and the grounds are beautiful. Thank you so much for linking up to #whatevertheweather x

    September 27, 2015 at 4:24 pm
    • Reply Sarah

      Thanks so much for your kind comment 🙂 The kids both love history, so really enjoy exploring old places. Huge credit has to go I think to horrible histories for their enthusiasm – they have a much greater knowledge base than I ever did as a kid. Berkeley castle really is worth a visit if you ever come up this way x

      September 28, 2015 at 11:44 am
  • Reply Alison

    I love castles and this one looks really fascinating, as well as picturesque. Shame I don’t live nearer

    September 24, 2015 at 3:26 pm
    • Reply Sarah

      Isn’t it annoying when you read a blog post then realise its miles away, we’ll all have to start taking more holidays 🙂

      September 24, 2015 at 10:29 pm
  • Reply Lisa (Travel Loving Family)

    We live about half an hr from Berkeley Castle 🙂 It is a fascinating place. We have not visited for a couple of years so we are due a visit soon! Thanks for sharing #whatevertheweather

    September 23, 2015 at 10:23 pm
    • Reply Sarah

      We’re really lucky that we have so many great places to visit in this part of the country aren’t we 🙂 Thanks for visiting us x

      September 23, 2015 at 10:38 pm
  • Reply Jenny

    I had never heard of Berkley Castle, yet clearly I should have as it’s played an important part in the history of the UK. Amazing that it’s been kept so well and in the same family for a good part of that time. That rickety little walkway looks very intriguing, I could just imagine the people walking across it. Are there any ghost rumours? Surely a place that old and well used must have ghosts! 😉
    The gardens look lovely too, I doubt many visitors walk as sedately as the queen would have there (I’d be most concerned of my two slipping and going into the water!).
    Thanks so much for linking up to #Whatevertheweather 🙂 x

    September 23, 2015 at 9:38 pm
    • Reply Sarah

      There’s loads of gruesome ghost stories (Edward II allegedly died in a particularly horrible way, and apparently people still hear his screams!) And I did half expect one of my kids to go in – since I took up blogging (and therefore taking lots of photos) my kids have quickly worked out that I am much more distracted now, and definitely take advantage of the fact! Thanks for having us on #WhatevertheWeather x

      September 23, 2015 at 10:00 pm
  • Reply Cathy (MummyTravels)

    I love old castles and Berkeley has so much history – especially the Edward II stories. I visited years ago before my daughter was born, so lovely to see what they have for kids. I might wait until I don’t have to explain the red hot poker part of the story though!

    September 23, 2015 at 2:40 pm
    • Reply Sarah

      Haha yes, have to admit I skipped over that bit with the kids! Thanks for popping by 🙂

      September 23, 2015 at 3:43 pm
  • Reply Elaine Livingstone

    I love old castles, and the history of them as they grow and adapt to the needs of the times. Amazing that the same family have owned it for so long, usually death duties make these type of buildings far to expensive to keep in the family.
    The scenery from the top must be quite stunning, though I am sure it was not built for the views. #countrykids

    September 21, 2015 at 4:08 pm
    • Reply Sarah

      We love history too 🙂 The views are amazing from the castle, it’s a beautiful spot. Thanks for visiting x

      September 21, 2015 at 5:59 pm
  • Reply Coombe Mill

    What a fascinating place for you to visit, I bet it was great to explore somewhere that has held so much history within its walls. It’s great that your two were fascinated, exploring as much of the castle as they could, nothing beats learning through exploring. I love the photo of the two of them running beside the lily pond, it’s great that they were excited that they might’ve been walking in Queen Elizabeth I footsteps. Thanks for linking up with me on Country Kids.

    September 21, 2015 at 12:15 pm
    • Reply Sarah

      It is an amazing place to explore 🙂 Thanks for having us on #CountryKids

      September 21, 2015 at 5:58 pm

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