Living the Castle Life in England

Castles… England has much to offer in castles. Actually, all of the United Kingdom does, but for this reason precisely as well as the fact that I’ve had the occasion to hang out at only a few castles, if you will, over the years, I’m keeping this blog to England. Most recently this weekend, while celebrating a momentous family event, we stayed at Langley Castle Hotel and then toured Alnwick Castle, both in in Northumberland.

For castle buffs and historians, I do realise that Langley is not of the same category or class, so to speak, as the likes of Alnwick and the more well-known Windsor or perhaps Warwick Castle, all of which I have visited.

And thank goodness it isn’t or we wouldn’t have been allowed to stay there. Still, Langley has an intriguing history, built in 1350, during the reign of Edward III, and has been the estate of Lords and Ladies over the years. Sadly, two of the Lords were executed, at the Tower of London, having taken part in the Jacobite rising of 1715. Told you, intriguing history.

Anyhow, after this, the crown confiscated the property and later in the 1880s a local historian purchased it and saw to keeping its architectural integrity and all the rest.

Enough history to get the flavour of the Langley today—a fantastic example of tradition in the present and I hope with a future. Highlights of the castle hotel include the swish rooms with alcoves overlooking the beautiful grounds and its red-carpeted traditional spiral staircase.

Having lived like a Lord and Lady of the manor for a short spell, we went off to see how a modern day Duke and Duchess live. Owners of Alnwick Castle and its gardens, the 12th Duke of Northumberland, Ralph Percy, and his wife, Jane Percy, live large.

From the beautiful gardens, which the Duchess is best known for redeveloping to the grand castle itself, to which the couple have done extensive restorations and repairs, Alnwick is a thing of the past, as well as one of the now. As such the noble couple vacate it for seven months of the year, opening it to thousands of visitors daily.

Highlights include the 350 cherry blossoms in bloom, the sprawling stairwells leading to the staterooms and the rooms themselves with the many paintings and wall hangings. And if you are a Downton Abbey fan, which I reticently admit I am not, you’ll appreciate the exhibition from the filming that took place at Alnwick.

Back to life as I know it, which is not bad, not bad at all, I must say I rather enjoyed the castle life, if only for a short spell.