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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)

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh, Scotland

On our last day during our trip to Edinburgh, we went to Edinburgh Castle. This castle sits at the end of the Royal Mile. It is quite an impressive fortress.

Edinburgh Castle definitely has a different "feel" to it compared to some of the other castles we have visited. It feels more "rugged" and worn in. That could be due to the fact it has been fought over, held, and recaptured time and time again. It is reportedly the most besieged place in Great Britain. The castle sits atop Castle Rock which is a volcanic plug in the middle of Edinburgh. The rock is estimated to have formed some 350 million years ago during the early Carboniferous period. Human occupation of the rock has been traced back to the Iron Age, or 2nd century AD. A royal castle has occupied the rock since at least the reign of David I in the 12th century, and the site continued to be a royal residence until 1633. Oliver Cromwell seized the castle in in 1650. In its decline, the castle was used as a as military barracks and garrison in the 17th century and was involved in many historical conflicts from the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century to the Jacobite rising of 1745. The One O'Clock Gun is fired every day at precisely 1:00pm, except Sunday, Good Friday and Christmas Day.

Edinburgh Castle: https://www.edinburghcastle.scot

Edinburgh Castle
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Views from the castle esplanade. Hundreds of "witches" were burned at the stake on the esplanade back in the day.
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Views from the Argyle Battery, facing North
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There did not seem to be a very organized way of going through the castle, so we started in the Royal Palace. We were able to see the Honours of Scotland (similar to the Crown Jewels), which consisted of the Crown (first used in 1540), the Sceptre (given to James IV in 1494), the Sword of State (given to James IV by Pope Julius II in 1507), and also The Stone of Destiny (a large block of sandstone traditionally believed to have been part of a royal bench-throne that held sacred powers). Edward I of England removed the stone in 1296 during his Wars of Independence and sent it to Westminster Abbey. The Stone was used in coronation ceremonies of most monarchs of England, and beginning in 1714, all rulers of Great Britain. The Stone was returned to Scotland on the 700th anniversary of its removal and will only ever be removed when there is a coronation in Westminster Abbey. Unfortunately, no pictures were allowed of these items.

David's Tower
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Where the Honors of Scotland were hidden during World War II
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Scottish flag
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Fireplace in Laich Hall. At the end of Laich Hall, was a little manned kiosk where you could find the history of European family names and the coat of arms. We did this and it was quite fun and I would totally recommend it. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take photos, I am imagining because they want you to buy the histories, which we ended up doing.
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When Mary, Queen of Scots, fled from Palace of Holyroodhouse, she came to Edinburgh Castle and gave birth to James VI and I in a tiny room known as the Birthchamber. James VI was the only known monarch to have been born at Edinburgh Castle.
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After exiting the Royal Palace, we entered Crown Square and came to The Great Hall.

The Great Hall. The Great Hall had an impressive display of military arms and armor, but unfortunately, I could not get a lot of decent pictures without a bunch of people in them.
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Stained glass windows in the Great Hall
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This iron-barred opening next to the fireplace in the Great Hall is called Laird's Lug, which served as a peephole for the king so he could spy or eavesdrop on his courtiers. Trust issues, anyone? Apparently the KGB was concerned about Laird's Lug and requested it be sealed prior to Mikhail Gorbachev's visit in 1984. Paranoid much?
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Following The Great Hall, we went into the Scottish National War Memorial. This memorial was excellent and reminded me of some of the memorials we saw in the cathedrals in London.
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We also went into the Military Prison, the Prisons of War, the Regimental Museums and the National War Museum. All four were very crowded and we couldn't really see much because the spaces were so small, with single entry and exit points.

View from a lookout near the prisons
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This castle somewhat disappointed me, mainly because of the crowds. We got there as soon as the castle opened to avoid the crowds, which clearly everyone else did. The crowds made me feel like I was at Disney World. There didn't seem to be as many rooms open as there have been in other castles and palaces and nearly all of the rooms all had single entry and exit points, which was annoying. I did enjoy the history of the castle, especially the royal connections. I definitely learned a lot about the kings and queens of Scotland, which I had no prior knowledge of.

Onto the next adventure!

Posted by LCP 09:34 Archived in Scotland Tagged edinburgh queen castle mary crown jewels scottish scots Comments (0)

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