53. Berkeley Castle

Berkeley Castle is thought to have been the scene of the murder of King Edward II.A real step back in time: the Great Hall of the castle. Berkeley Castle is one of the most remarkable buildings in Britain and has been home to the same family - the Berkeleys - for 850 years.

Situated to the south of the Cotswolds, the castle is believed to be the scene of the murder of King Edward II in 1327.

But despite nine centuries of often turbulent British history, the castle, the Berkeley family, the archives (which go back to the 12th Century), the contents, the estate and the townOne of the big guns: An imposing cannon makes for quite a sight for visitors to the castle. have all survived.

In fact, the castle is the oldest building in the country to be inhabited by the same family who built it and the Berkeley family are one of only three families in England who can trace their ancestry from father to son right back to Saxon times.

Berkeley is one of the March castles, built to keep out the Welsh - and it has all the trappings to match. The trip steps were designed to make the enemy stumble during an assault, and there The guard room provides another chilling step back in time.are also arrow slits, murder holes, enormous barred doors, slots where the portcullis once fell, and worn stones where sentries stood guard.

For centuries, the Berkeleys were close to the English throne, as able administrators and fighters who supported their king or queen (as long as they could), backed the winning side, and married well.

The castle is full of stories. Its contents include many items that have been chosen, collected and treasured by members of the Berkeley family throughout the centuries, and reflect the castle's history.

They include Francis Drake's cabin chest, QueenA market at Berkeley Castle with traders dressed in period costume. Elizabeth I's bedspread, and the banner that the 4th Earl of Berkeley took with him to the Battle of Culloden in 1746. Many of the unusual tapestries, paintings, ceramics and silverware also have their own story to tell.

The castle's archives date back from the earliest part of the 12th Century and number around 20,000 documents, 6,000 of which relate to the Medieval period. The latter are mainly manorial records which relate to virtually every county in England.

The Berkeley Estate consists of 6,000 acres, and includes one of the best examples of a Medieval deer park in the country. There are also 18 tenant farms, a stretch of the River Severn and the land on which the famous Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust at Slimbridge is situated.

Berkeley town itself goes back in time as far as the castle, and evidence suggests that there was a large Saxon settlement and, possibly, a Roman temple.Berkeley Castle looks absolutely stunning when it is lit up at night.

More information

Berkeley Castle
Berkeley, Gloucestershire GL13 9BQ
01453 810303

Berkeley Castle is open to the public from the start of April until the end of October, Sunday to Wednesday inclusive from 11am-5pm. It is always closed on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Because it is a Norman Castle that retains many of its original features such as steps and uneven floors, there is unfortunately no access for wheelchairs or children's buggies.

© Loving The Cotswolds. 2022.