Tag: Langley Castle

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.

Expat Goes North for Castle Scouting

Britain is known for its stupendous castles, the world over. From Windsor to Warwick Castle, such fortresses are still home to modern day royals, their kinsfolks and the likes. Thankfully, however, they make certain areas available to the rest of us at different times of the year.

Reflecting back to the late 90s when I first came to live in England, I made castle hopping, including a few palaces, a pastime of sorts. Not only was it great fun but also it was a rich historical expedition, if you will.

In those days, even if we did dine at Amberley Castle in Sussex quite often, I still couldn’t help wonder what it would be like to live in a castle, at least for a day or two. Fast forward to this past weekend and Paul and I flew to Northumberland to find out just that. Planning well in advance for a festive event in 2016, we made Langley Castle our home for the weekend. Well, sort of anyhow.

It so happens that we stayed in a more modern castle view room on the grounds of Langley with a view to reconnoitre the facility for our upcoming event. Not a problem at all because many castles have become seasoned hoteliers.

Langley is one of several of Britain’s castles that has done so, and like it, many castles have rooms available within the castle and extension rooms on the grounds, too.

So off to the grounds we went, admiring two extraordinary peacocks with coats fit for a king, and three or more attractive peahens. From this vantage point, we got a pretty good impression of the castle, even dinning there and admiring its 14th century décor, but when the manager gave us a guided tour, we were more than impressed, as we viewed the well appointment rooms in the castle, including those where events are held.

Has the scouting ended? Who is to say? Also, we did check out nearby Otterburn Castle. In meantime, we made a stop at Hadrian’s Wall, where we would surely do more than stop if we do celebrate in this area. And before returning to the airport in Newcastle on Sunday, we visited Alnwick Castle and Gardens.Splendid but it does not offer boarding. In fact, it wasn’t offering anything when we were there but the tourist season kicks off soon, if it already hasn’t.

And I am jolly glad it has with this inclement weather lingering around. Castle hopping might just be the thing to do.