“ Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire, England. „
i have been doing my family research...i have found my great grandad was a coachman ,,,his father a valet,his mother a maid.i would love anyone who has pictures or photo,s of people who worked there to please let me view them.my ancesters were named taylor ......here,s hoping someone somewhere can help me.many thanks regards brenda xmy email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
As "Friends of HHA" (Historic Houses Association) we are constantly on the look out for new places to visit that are part of their membership scheme and that are within reasonable travelling distance of Sheffield - The website for this property is suitably clear and promised a good day's entertainment. We visited on a quiet Thursday afternoon in May and were able to park within 30 yards of the ticket office - and because it wasn't a weekend or Bank Holiday we didn't have to pay an extra £1 for car parking.
The first thing to greet my own family's arrival was a sign saying that the Adventure Playground was closed for essential maintenance. Hardly the best of starts given that we'd originally planned to take our two youngsters to Alton Towers on that day..
The HHA scheme (which costs around £54 a year for 2 adults - plus £17 each for extra family members) allows you free membership to Belvoir Castle - which is a very good thing given that the rather thin guide book which you are offered at the ticket office will set you back £5.00! (and there are no price indications visible until you come to pay - so beware).
Those unfortunate enough not to have discount entry options are going to start feeling their pockets lightened quite quickly:
- £11 each for adult entry; £30 for a family ticket
- £1.60 for a pot of tea; £1.75 for a teacup size coffee
- £1.95 for a tray bake; £3.95 for a piece of chocolate cake; £5.95 for a sandwich: £9.95 for a main course....
There's also a very large piggy bank on the restaurant counter (that's right, it's definitely not called a cafe!) just in case you've got any small change left to supplement the catering staff's income further.
The castle itself is very interesting although you will baulk at being invited to donate further sums when leaving the military exhibition and chapel. Quite a number of rooms are cordoned off and can only be viewed by peering from an open door. Guide staff are rather thin on the ground and so you shouldn't expect a "National Trust info-tainment experience" if you don't manage to catch the guided tour which started at 2.30pm on this day.
The plan of the castle grounds and gardens - which isn't included in the guidebook, incidently, is wildly out of scale and disguises the extent of walking through unkempt scrubland and badly maintained paths you'll have to engage with in order to visit the 3 gardens. The rose garden and statue garden are the closest to the castle - and neither will occupy you for more than 5 minutes a piece. Wandering along paths hoping to find something of greater visual interest and value will normally bring you to yet another sign saying "Private" and then entail you retracing your steps back past the garden scenery you've already seen and written off as rather uninspiring.
Cue time for the "Duchess's Gardens". A 5 - 10 minute walk through ankle deep wood chippings will bring you to what you hope will be the final highlight of your visit. What you'll find instead is a former secret woodland garden in a very interesting open quarry style setting that has obviously seen much better days. The website reveals that a restoration project is underway but you'll be hard pushed to find a great deal of evidence of the fruits of this labour. At a time of the year when most other feature gardens worth their salt have spectacular displays of bluebells, rhododenrons and azaleas, you'll be lucky here to find the odd new camillia bush dotted about and a few forget-me nots to brighten what, in honesty, is a very dull garden & woodland landscape.
So, what can I tell you - Join HHA and at least make visiting Belvoir Castle a slightly less financially painful one - and keep your expectations suitable low - This isn't Chatsworth House, even though the prices here might lead you to suspect otherwise. Choose a weekend when there's a special event on that you'd happily pay to come to in its own right - and count the castle and gardens as a "Brucie bonus".
~~ Belvoir Castle ~~
It was Saturday and the first full day of our holiday in Lincolnshire and after a very disappointing visit to Skegness we were in a quandary on what to do as it had already gone past lunch time. I was a little down hearted as it did not seem to be a good start to our holiday. In an attempt to cheer ourselves up we got the map book out as we had no tourist info with us in the car. We looked at the A52 which we were on and followed it looking for a place of interest to visit; we spotted Belvoir Castle which was slightly off the A52, but what the hell it would cheer us up. So off we went.
We arrived there quite late in the afternoon around 3pm so we only had two hours to complete our visit before it closed. The car park is at the bottom of a very steep hill, so be prepared for a good walk up to the castle itself. If you are able bodied and walking up to the castle you will pass sign posts directing you to various gardens along the route, which you could divert to and then back track to the path. Being disabled we got a car pass and had to drive back along the main road for about 400yds to the main house gates. We were given a gate code to allow us entry and we could then park right next to the castle entrance.
Although disabled I am not in a wheelchair, if I had have been then admission to the castle would have been free as the only access would have been to the ground floor. Instead as I can get around although slowly so we paid the £10.00 each admission. (Although this is part of Hidden England Passport Scheme, it was the first one we had visited so we had to pay for each of us). We paid £2.00 for a sticker which allowed us to take photos inside the castle, our guide book cost us approx £4.00 and then there was the £1.00 for parking, this was becoming fairly expensive for a couple of hours.
Our tour of Belvoir Castle is now on the way, Belvoir means beautiful view in French, and so it is rightly named as the views are spectacular. Also people pronounce it Bever Castle; from my research it was pronounced Bever because people had difficulty with the French pronunciation Belvoir. Anyway I digress back to our tour, we have no tour guide as we have missed the 12.30pm time slot for the organised tour. So off we go with my chief photographer (my hubby) snapping away. Our journey starts with the pre-guard room and the guardroom where there is a vast display of 19th Century muskets and Armour dating from the 18th Century. The Guardroom is Gothic in design and leads you to a lovely stone staircase that takes you up one side and down on to the other side of the room. You walk through a museum of the Queens Royal Lancers with displays and information dating back form 1759 right up to todays Royal Lancers in Iraq. I couldnt help thinking of our deceased fathers who both would have loved all the weaponry and military displays.
Apart from the beautiful rooms we get to see things like a really old invalid carriage and a Russian Sleigh that have been dotted around the building. It seems that every where you look there is an historical object, a piece of beauty to cast your eyes on.
One of the rooms you get to look at is the Elizabeth Saloon, which was probably named after Elizabeth the 5th Duchess of Rutland who commissioned Matthew Wyatt for the decoration and the beautiful paintings on the ceiling which are done in one large circular picture and semi circular ones around it, outstanding. The room itself is overpoweringly decorated in pink and gold, done in the style of Louis XIV.
In the picture gallery there is a magnificent portrait of Henry VIII, there is also a very strange picture conveying 43 rare and odd proverbs. Most of which I have never heard of, to help you understand the picture they have a list of all 43 proverbs and a map to direct you to the right proverb on the picture. You could quite easily spend a lot of time here just trying to work them all out, I took pictures and still look at it on my computer screen.
I remember thinking as you go round, when you see these beautiful very big four poster beds, how grand they look and how high they are, I would need a step ladder to get in and out of bed, I certainly would not want to fall out of bed either.
As you walk through the various rooms you get to see such wonderful period furniture and beautiful paintings, not forgetting Louis XIV & XV clocks that seem to be very popular in the stately homes of Lincolnshire.
The largest room you get to see is 131ft in length and is named the Regents Gallery named after the Prince Regent who visited the castle soon after the completion of the room. It is decorated heavily (as are most historical buildings) in Red and Gold, with heavy red drapes framing the long windows that bring you in plenty of light and lovely views. Gilded mirrors adding to the dimensions of the room strategically places between each of the 5-6 windows. The crowning glory of this room is the Louise XVI Gobelin tapestries they are exquisite and run along the length of the wall.
Like many homes of its time it has its own beautiful family chapel. There is also a lovely childrens room full of old toys for modern children to look at and experience playing with them, including period costumes to dress up in. I adored this room it even had a really old rocking horse which most children of today will probably never get to experience the simple joys.
From here we popped down into the cellars and I was quite surprised how cold and damp they were especially considering we have just had a heat wave throughout the last month.
The very large kitchen is also down here, with an enormous range that they cooked on; my humble home is going to look small after this.
After a grand tour of the house David Bailey (hubby) and I are in need of a pit stop, so off to find the toilets, which are on the ground floor. We found these not to far from the castles restaurant. We really liked the way the estate had made them fun as well as functional, the outside panels were decorated like the Jesters Costumes in Orange and Yellow diamonds, the mens toilets were called Dukes and the ladies were called Duchesses. Inside the toilets was completely cream, they were very clean toilets, for a little while I was beginning to think I may get stuck in there as I could not find the door that takes you out, all the panels looked the same, so it was a case of aiming for where it could be and hope for the best, hooray Im out, it was in the right hand corner past the sinks if you visit he, he.
Now I did mention it had a restaurant, we did not use the facilities it had to offer, but we could not resist a little peak. It was to be found next to the gift shop which of course is close to the exit. You can stop and rest a while with a hot or cold beverage and a hot meal if you like, from looking at the menu the prices for a meal average around £10.00. They offer a fair selection of snacks and meals for you to choose from.
The Gift Shop was over priced like many, many gift shops at tourist locations, I have to say, and even for the sake of a review I did not give it much of my time.
~~ A Little Bit Of History ~~
The first castle was built here in Norman times, but due to The War of the Roses, the Civil War and not forgetting a major fire in 1816, the castle had to be rebuilt, making this the final version being the fourth one to be built on this site.
The castle is currently the home of the Duke and Duchess of Rutland and it has been in his family since 1506.
I know its only a little bit of history, but you can find more via the website and guide book.
~~ The Gardens ~~
The grounds are vast and steep; you can by a laminated map complete with information sheet on the back about the various areas from the gift shop and ticket office in the car park at the start of your journey.
The Duchess Gardens just off the horseshoe turn on your way up to the castle. We did not visit these ourselves due to the distance for me to walk, so info here is taken from the back of the map. The Duchess Gardens are to be found at the end of a woodland path which is flanked with azaleas and rhododendrons, it is better known as the Spring Gardens named after the natural water spring you will find there. It was created by Elizabeth the 5th Duchess between 1800 and 1825 and contains trees and shrubs from around the world. It also contains a Grade 1 listed Summer Pavilion Root and Branch made from tree routes and branches; it is one of many around the estate but by far the best quality.
Retracing your steps back to the main path towards the house you come to the Garden of Statues, we did not walk down to this, but you did get a beautiful view of it looking down from the Rose Gardens. It is easy for you to divert from the main road and walk round to the lily pond which is surrounded by statues by Caius Gabriel Cibber who was the sculptor to King Charles II. Once you have walked round here you can make your way up into the Rose Garden which is the nearest one to the main castle. It has a beautiful little ornate summerhouse, but it is sadly not open for safety reasons, you have the odd statue and giant urns containing hostas in between beds of roses which were planted in 2002, definitely worth a little walk round.
There is a childrens adventure playground in the grounds as well.
~~ Other Info ~~
The guided tour starts at 12.30pm.
On selected weekends they have guides dressed in authentic costumes and they conduct re-enactments. There is also a Jousting area where they host events.
Childrens quizzes are available to make it educational and fun for them.
Belvoir is also for hire for State Dinners, Conferences and Weddings, details can be found on their website www.belvoircastle.com. Although a really beautiful and idyllic setting for your special day it could work out very expensive.
I would also advise that if your visit is planned for a weekend, especially if you have to travel a distance to ring and check everything is open, as I did notice whilst checking their website that it was closed one Saturday for a wedding.
From the film the Da Vinci Code, they used Belvoir Castle for the shots of the Castel Gandolfo.
~~ Prices and Opening Hours ~~
It is open from April until September from 11 am 5pm last entry at 4pm to the castle. Apart from Mondays and Fridays when it is closed, unless it is a Bank Holiday then it is open.
Castle and all the gardens
Adults - £10.00
Students/Senior Citizens - £9.00
Children (5-16) - £5.00
Family (2 adults and 3 children) - £26.00
Adults - £5.00
This is also part of the Hidden England Passport offer, where if you have been to any of the other five stately homes or castles previously this season you can get in on a bog off, buy one get one free on your tickets, other places included are Burghley House, Grimsthorpe Castle, Belton House and Rockingham Castle.
~~ Directions ~~
You can take the A1 then on to the A52 at Grantham, just outside Grantham onto the A607 towards Melton Mowbray to Belvoir Castle. (Hope that helps)
~~ Overall ~~
A wonderful day out, well worth a visit and taking the time to enjoy what Belvoir Castle has to offer, not to forget the magnificent views across the valley. I feel they have worked hard to provide enjoyment for both young and old here.
Most definitely worth a vist
Thank you so much for reading
Belvoir Castle and Estate is located in Leicestershire, approximately 11 miles from Melton Mowbray, and a similar distance from Bingham. I have driven past it several times, and as it is so close to me, I felt it was essential to check it out sooner rather than later, to see if it can offer what my previous castle of choice - Culzean Castle in Ayrshire - offered me and the family for so many years.
My first shock on researching it on the internet was the entry fee. It costs a whopping £10 per adult for entry, with only a £1 discount for students and senior citizens. Family tickets were a slightly more reasonable £26, and if it is gardens only you want, it still will set you back £5.
Nevertheless, we decided to go, and in fact it was fairly late on when we arrived and I did contemplate purchasing a season ticket for £18 a person, although we did not opt for this in the end, as we were still not sure if it was somewhere we would likely to return again and again.
The Castle does not appear to be part of any Heritage trust type organisations, and therefore there is no escaping the entry fee, if you want in the door, you have to pay!
And to add insult to injury, they charge a further £1 to park the car! That said, there didn't seem to be any control over this, and therefore I escaped without paying. It was either that or remortgage the house for the visit
The ticket desk is within a very small shop in the car park, and this can get packed at times. The castle is a five minute walk up a reasonably steep slope, and is not suitable if you are not reasonably fit. It was a slope with no steps however, and there was limited vehicular access up a driveway if required and if agreed.
Brief History of the Castle
The present owners are the Duke and Duchess of Rutland, and the Castle has belonged to their family since the early 16th century, when the family came down from Northumberland. There has been a castle on the site since the time of William the Conqueror although fire and civil war have taken their inevitable toll and the current castle dates back to 1816.
The Castle and Castle Tour
The peacocks in the Castle courtyard are sure to entertain any visitors to the castle and my trip was no exception. The castle also have events from time to time, and there was a Medieval Jousting event taking part on the grounds on a lower level to the castle, which was complimentary with the ticket price.
Visitors enter the castle through the pre guard room, and into the guard room. Immediately the links between this castle/family and the military begin to show through. The walls are adorned with over 100 19th century muskets and immediately before entering the Guard Room itself there is a very quaint door-sign called the "Speak a Word Room", used by the duke to speak with staff.
The military and hunting theme continues into the Guardroom, which contains a further abundance of all things designed to kill and maim. Structurally, this stone room is huge, with its ceiling height being the equivalent of two castle sized floors. Huge staircases make their way to the second level.
The castle itself contains a museum which works through various regiments which now form the Queens Royal Lancers. I am sure this would be particularly interesting to persons interested in the military and memorabilia however it just didn't quite do it for me, as it was not particularly interactive, but was mainly a chain of display cabinets with uniforms, silverware, some history and the like.
Castle tours can only really show a sample of their rooms and leave the visitor to imagine how life may have been, and this castle is no exception. Many of the rooms which are on view to the public are absolutely magnificent. The ballroom has been used in modern times and takes some of its design from Lincoln Cathedral. Providing the rooms are not in use, (and thankfully they weren't) you can also peak into two Chinese rooms, adorned with hand painted silks for wallpaper and luxurious beds.
The State Dining Room was one of my favourite Rooms. The table was set to seat around 30 diners, and certainly had a grand feel about it, particularly when you consider the lucky individuals who might get to dine in there occasionally. One of the more unusual features in the room was that of a huge silver wine cooler dating back to the 17th century. I remember looking at it and thinking it was large enough to bath four babies simultaneously, and indeed later on in the tour, I saw more than one picture of the current Duke and Duchesses children posing in the wine cooler!
The picture gallery was not a particularly large room, but there was an abundance of oil paintings on its four walls. For me the most obvious were a portrait of Henry VIII and a painting of the Last Supper (which everyone immediately studies for any links to Dan Brown claims!). My favourite picture in this room was one called The Proverbs by David Teniers II who lived in the 17th Century. The picture itself is an agricultural/village scene incorporating many famous proverbs in oils, hard to explain but very appealing.
I think Castle Libraries hold appeal for most visitors, and I enjoyed seeing the dates on some of these books, many of which are several hundred years old, and unheard of to me, with a few exceptions that jumped out. One of the Castle Libraries is currently closed to visitors, while its collection are being taken care of/restored.
While the gardens were pleasant, I was a little disappointed that there was not more to see. The castle overlooks the main Rose Gardens, and it was probably a little too early in the season to see anything particularly colourful. That said, the land surrounding the castle was pleasant if not for the fact that it was natural and not overly manicured.
Overall, I have to say I was slightly disappointed with my visit. I arrived at 2pm and wondered if 3 hours would be enough to see everything I wanted to. As it was, I had walked back down the slope to the car park within 90-100 minutes of my arrival. When you leave the "Lancers" museum, there is a charity box, explaining they get no funds from the castle entry fee, and again I was disappointed at this, as it is very unfair to ask visitors who have already paid £10 to contribute yet more!
The Castle itself has a magnificent setting in the Vale of Belvoir. It is also an extremely attractive building, and I enjoyed many aspects of the visit. However, I think £5 entry fee would have been good value for money. As it is I would struggle to give it more than 6/10 in terms of overall value/enjoyment, and can only recommend a visit if you have a keen interest in old properties of this type/military history.
You however, might disagree.
Open April to September (but not Mondays or Fridays)
Open from 11am to 5pm with last entry 4pm
(The name Belvoir means "Beautiful View")
The ancestral home of the Duke and Duchess of Rutland for one thousand years. Currently the family home of the 11th Duke, Duchess and their young family. The name Belvoir means 'beautiful view' and dates from Norman times. The Castle occupies a commanding position with breath- taking views across the Vale of Belvoir.