A Travellerspoint blog

Belvoir Castle

Leicestershire

Greetings! Today's adventure took us to Belvoir Castle, meaning "beautiful view." The name Belvoir is actually pronounced Beaver... Yes, beaver...Not sure I understand how Belvoir became Beaver, but oh well. The castle is privately owned by the 11th Duke of Rutland who lives at the castle (the Duke also owns Haddon Hall which is located in the Peak District because who doesn't need two manors these days), and is open to the public on certain dates throughout the year. The house has been lived in by the family for over 500 years. The castle is famous for being the Windsor Castle "stand in" for the Netflix series, The Crown. It has also been used in several films that feature royal history. Every monarch since James I has stayed overnight at Belvoir Castle, except for the current monarch, Queen Elizabeth II (although she has been to Belvoir).

Belvoir Castle: https://www.belvoircastle.com

There have been four castles built on the hilltop. The first ground breaking was in 1067 and the castle as we saw it when we visited was from the 19th century and renovated between 1801 and 1832. Elizabeth Manners, the wife of the 5th Duke of Rutland, oversaw the renovations and clearly decorated the castle for showing off and entertaining. She took inspiration from traveling across Europe and recreated those inspirations at Belvoir. Each new generation of the Rutland family that takes over the castle, leaves their mark in one room or another. To call the castle opulent was certainly an understatement, it was spectacular! Unfortunately, photography was not allowed inside of the castle, so I took some exterior pictures as well as several in the Rose Garden. Capability Brown's last "great" garden design was also at Belvoir. I just can't seem to escape his "landscape artistry." There are several gardens and walks at the castle (Japanese Woodland, Duchess's Garden, Hermit's Garden, and the Duke's Walk), but we were only able to get to the Spiral Garden and the Rose Garden.

Fun fact, there are a couple of books our tour guide suggested that are associated with Belvoir Castle. One which the current Duke of Rutland authored and another based on some history of the house. I included links below, in case anyone would like more information about the books.

Resolution: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Resolution-Brothers-Nation-Crisis-World/dp/1784979910
The Secret Rooms: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/nov/16/the-secret-rooms-catherine-bailey-review

Castle:
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Views:
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Gardens:
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Flowers:
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Belvoir Castle was pretty spectacular and definitely did remind me of Windsor Castle in many ways. It definitely had the typical Norman feel to it; high on a hilltop (hard to invade) and fortified, which is pretty typical of the defensive network of castles William the Conqueror had constructed. We had a great tour guide during our tour and I would like to return to explore some of the other walking trails and gardens.

On to the next adventure!

Posted by LCP 23:47 Archived in England Tagged the of castle norman crown duke william brown beaver manners capability belvoir rutland conqueror Comments (2)

Dublin - Day 3

St. Patrick's Cathedral, St. Stephen's Green, and Museums

Our third day we had purchased tickets to go to St. Patrick's Cathedral and had planned to visit some of the gardens as well as explore more parts of Dublin.

We had tickets to St. Patrick's Cathedral as soon as they opened and I would highly recommend trying to get into the cathedral as soon as they open. After an hour or so of opening, the place was packed and almost too hard to take pictures or to move around to the different areas of the cathedral. St. Patrick's Cathedral was founded in 1191 and is the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland. The cathedral has BEAUTIFUL stained glass windows throughout, some of the most beautiful I've seen so far. We learned that stained glass was used to teach illiterate folks about the stories of the Bible.

St. Patrick's Cathedral:
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Interior:
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Relics in the cathedral:
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Interesting floor tiles:
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After the Cathedral, we walked through St. Stephen's Green and Merrion Square and went to the National Museum of Ireland - Natural History Museum and the National Gallery of Ireland, both had free admission. We also found Oscar Wilde's childhood home.

St. Stephen's Green
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Merrion Square:
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Natural History Museum:
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We had a fantastic time in Dublin. There is so much to do and see and the people are so friendly. We definitely hope to make it back at some point. On to the next adventure!

Posted by LCP 07:53 Archived in Ireland Tagged st. history gallery of square green ireland dublin museum cathedral national st stephens oscar wilde patrick's merrion Comments (0)

Dublin - Day 2

Dublin Castle and Trinity College

On our second day in Dublin, we took guided tours of Dublin Castle and Trinity College.

Dublin Castle was not very far from Christ Church Cathedral. We had purchased tickets ahead of time for a guided tour. Our tour guide was again FANTASTIC, extremely knowledgeable and really patient with questions. The castle dates back to 1204 and has served as the headquarters of the English and later British administration in Ireland. Today, the castle serves as a government complex and cultural site and it is where the Irish President is inaugurated.

I could not get a picture of the entire castle, but I did find these plans for the city of Dublin and how the castle served as part of the defensive network of the city.

Castle layout:
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Castle Courtyard:
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Only surviving tower of the original castle:
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Our tour started in the Viking and Medieval Excavation area, the oldest parts of the castle.
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The Chapel. Fun fact, the chapel looks like it is made of stone, but actually it is wood and plaster with a stone facade.
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After the Chapel we moved into the State Apartments.
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George IV Portrait. Apparently, during the unveiling of this portrait, George's friends starting laughing. I guess they figured it didn't accurately depict his "likeness" which did not portray all 440lbs of George and his over 50 inch waistline. Remember the nursery rhyme, "Georgie Porgie," that was for George IV (also previously mentioned in an older post, Grimsthorpe).
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George IV throne
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The Portrait Gallery. Fun fact, serving pineapples was a sign of wealth, according to the tour guide. If you couldn't afford to serve it, some would just buy it and display it, real or fake.
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St. Patrick's Hall. This room is where the Irish President is inaugurated. Our tour guide had mentioned Nancy Pelosi was recently in Dublin a few weeks prior to our trip and she had dinner in the Hall instead of The Portrait Gallery.
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Castle Gardens
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The Chester Beatty Library is located next door to the castle and admission to the library was free. Alfred Chester Beatty, who signed his name A. Chester Beatty, was an American mining magnate, philanthropist and one of the most successful businessmen of his generation. He collected African, Asian, European and Middle Eastern manuscripts, rare printed books, prints and objects d'art. Chester Beatty became a naturalised British citizen in 1933, knighted in 1954, and made an honorary citizen of Ireland in 1957. In 1950, he established the Chester Beatty Library. The Library was amazing and the works were just spectacular. It was quite amazing to the collections. I would most definitely recommend a visit to this library.

After Dublin Castle, we took a stroll over to the University of Dublin where Trinity College is located. We purchased tickets for the student-led tour. The ticket included admission to the Old Library which contains the Book of Kells. Photography was not permitted in the area where the Book was located and the area was extremely crowded.

Trinity College:
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Inside of the Old Library:
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More information on the Book of Kells: https://www.tcd.ie/visitors/book-of-kells/

After the Trinity College tour, we decided to walk around the city. We went to BoBo's, a gourmet Irish Burger joint, in the Temple Bar area of Dublin, for dinner.

Onto Day 3...

Posted by LCP 23:29 Archived in Ireland Tagged chester of book dublin castle college george trinity kells dracula iv beatty Comments (1)

Dublin - Day 1

Christ Church Cathedral and Guinness

Since we got into Dublin a little ahead of schedule, we decided to drop our bags off at our Airbnb and take advantage of the extra time. The first stop on our tour of Dublin, we decided to go to Christ Church Cathedral. We had purchased tickets ahead of time for a guided tour. Our tour guide at Christ Church Cathedral was FANTASTIC. He was very funny and really knowledgable, which made the tour more interesting.

Christ Church Cathedral, The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, was originally built around 1030 and has undergone rebuilding and renovations over the years. St. Laurence O'Toole is the patron saint and was also the second archbishop of the diocese. The heart of the patron saint was stolen in 2012, but recently recovered and returned to the archbishop of Dublin, Michael Jackson.

Christ Church Cathedral exterior:
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Christ Church Cathedral Interior:
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Archbishop's seat:
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The wall slightly leans to the right here:
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Interesting floor tiling throughout the cathedral:
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Laurence O'Toole Heart:
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View of the city:
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The tour included the Belfry, where you could ring the bells:
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Window in Belfry:
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After the Belfry experience, we went underneath of the cathedral to the Crypt. This was a really interesting area of the church. There was a copy of the Magna Carta here as well as the famous "cat and rat" who apparently were found in the organ pipes.
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Magna Carta, copy:
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Cat and Rat:
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We really enjoyed the cathedral and would certainly go back. After Christ Church Cathedral, we walked to the Guinness Storehouse for the tour. I was underwhelmed by the Guinness Storehouse and tour. It was rather expensive (ticket price included a pint of Guinness) and I didn't find it interesting, granted I do not like Guinness, but I figured the tour would go into the history of the family and the beer process, which I would have been interested in learning about. I didn't feel as though the cost of the ticket was a good value for what was offered and it was overcrowded, naturally. The most entertaining aspect of the tour was probably the fish on the bicycle display.
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"A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle."
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We finished up the day, having dinner at Wuff, which was fantastic. And then called it a night. Onto Day 2...

Posted by LCP 09:21 Archived in Ireland Tagged fish church on ireland dublin a cathedral bicycle christ guinness wuff Comments (0)

Dublin, Ireland

Unfortunately, no leprechaun sightings!

Greetings! Our next adventure took us to Dublin, Ireland for a few days. I must admit I wasn't sure what to expect in Ireland. I thought it would be similar to Scotland and England (not that there is anything wrong with Scotland or England, I enjoy those countries as well), but I was pleasantly surprised. The people in Dublin were very friendly and the food was fantastic! I was really expecting the food to be more along the lines of standard pub fare, but the food scene in Dublin is quite spectacular. The city is also very walkable. We walked all around Dublin and the only time we took transportation was to and from the airport. Our trip to Dublin was about three days in total, so I figured I would divide the posts into what we did each day, separately. This particular post will focus on the city and some interesting things about the city.

We took another Ryanair flight from London to Dublin. The flight time is about 50 minutes in total and we even managed to get in about 30 minutes early. Again, I had a great experience on Ryanair and so far, I have no complaints with them. From the airport we took a taxi to our AirBnb in Stoneybatter. Our taxi driver (no Ubers in Dublin :( ) decided to play tour guide, unbeknownst to us, and took us on a very round about and very expensive way to our AirBnb. He took us through Phoenix Park, one of the largest European city parks. It is where the Irish President resides, in a miniature White House (Áras an Uachtaráin), which according to the taxi driver, is what the White House in the States was based off of. I must admit, there are striking similarities. On the other side of the park, is the US Ambassador's residence. The Dublin Zoo is also located in Phoenix Park. He also took us by a statue of the Duke of Wellington, who was born in Dublin, and through a random affluent neighborhood called Castleknock. Although, we appreciated the driver's knowledge, we did not appreciate being taken advantage of. Note to self, we will be researching the route from the airport to the AirBnbs for future trips and directing the driver on what roads to take. It's annoying to think we have to research routes to take, but this experience taught us a valuable lesson. This little incident by no means spoiled our trip. After reaching our AirBnb and picking up our keys, we set out to explore Dublin. We went to Christ Church Cathedral and also did the Guinness Tour. The second day we went to Dublin Castle and Trinity College and on the third day we went to St. Patrick's Cathedral and a few of the museums and gardens in Dublin. I will speak more about each of those places in separate posts.

Dublin is the largest city in Ireland and is also the capital. Dublin gets its name from the Galic "dubh linn" or “black pool” where the Poddle Stream met the River Liffey to form a deep pool at Dublin Castle. The area where this pool was located is now covered by the castle gardens at Dublin Castle. Ireland is a relatively new state, becoming independent in 1922. The Anglo-Irish treaty was signed between Irish Republican and British leaders and ended the Irish War of Independence. The treaty established a self-governing Irish Free State and provided for Northern Ireland (established in 1920) to become part of the United Kingdom. Ireland is the only country in the world to elect two successive female presidents: Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese. The current president is Michael Higgins. The role of the Irish President is mostly ceremonial. Elections are held every seven years and the president can be elected for two terms. The flag of Ireland is green, white and orange. Green is for nationalism, white for peace, and orange for unionism, according to one of our tour guides.

City of Dublin:
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Irish Priminister's Office (which is next to the Natural History Museum):
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Molly Malone Statue, on Suffolk Street:
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Oldest Pub in Ireland, The Brazen Head:
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The famous Temple Bar:
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Doors of Dublin:
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A few of the amazing restaurants in Dublin:
Wuff: http://www.wuff.ie
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Slice: http://www.asliceofcake.ie/index.php
Mi Thai: http://www.mithai.ie/MiThai2/
Keough's Cafe: https://keoghscafe.ie

Stoneybatter. This was an excellent area to stay in. It was just a 20 minute walk from the center of Dublin.
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We had a fantastic time in Dublin and hope to go back to Ireland to explore other cities! On to Day 1 in Dublin...

Posted by LCP 00:12 Archived in Ireland Tagged temple of ireland dublin doors bar guinness liffey molly malone ryanair airbnb brazenhead Comments (2)

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