Friday, 2 November 2012

A Visit to Berkeley Castle - and no sign of a poker!

This week I made it to Berkeley Castle before it closes for the winter.  I have been to Berkeley before  - about 20 years ago.  The castle has very restricted visiting times, and is closed every Friday and Saturday - even at the height of summer.  It makes a very lucrative living from hosting weddings, and can obviously benefit from closing on those days.  It is a fine castle, and has been in the hands of the Berkeley family for almost 800 years.  The family are proud to say on their website that the castle has not been 'romanticised' or modernised by the Victorians, and the castle is  'a Norman fortress with an enclosing curtain wall, built and enlarged through the medieval period and beyond into a secure, comfortable, substantial home.'

Of course, the main reason for my visit was to see the 'cell' that Edward II was kept in when he was deposed and kept prisoner there.  He was kept in some comfort and treated well.   You can't go into the cell, but have to look through some grating in a wall to see how it might have looked.



Of course, someone on the guided tour just had to ask where was the famous red hot poker, which was used to murder Edward II.  The guide was very sensible, and said it was most likely a myth, and that if Edward had been murdered in that cell, he would probably have been smothered or poisoned.  She even said there are stories that Edward escaped and survived, although sadly, she then added she found it ridiculous that his body was returned and buried in Gloucester Cathedral 20 years later.  She obviously needs to read the work of Ian Mortimer and check out Kathryn's website.


Despite the presence of a famous royal prisoner, apart from the cell, there's very little else to do with Edward II there.  Having sold out of guidebooks as it was the end of the season, we had to rely on the guide to get any background to Edward's story, and it was the usual information - Edward was a bad husband, gave his favourite his wedding presents etc, etc.  I could only shake my head.  At least the red hot poker story seems to be on it's way out.




8 comments:

Susan Higginbotham said...

Great pictures! Hope I get to go there someday.

Kathryn Warner said...

Hope you had a great time! I really hope they print new guidebooks without the poker. :) Annoying though that they're still repeating other tedious old nonsense though. Ah well, here's hoping it changes eventually too. :)

Kasia Ogrodnik said...

Anerje, I have managed to create my own Google account and my own blog at last, which means, no more no less, that I can leave comments happily and freely all around:-)
But to be serious, it must have been truly heartening to come across a guide, who did not take for granted and did not repeat the poker-nonsense.
And it must have been amazing to visit non-romanticised, Norman to the bone castle:-)

Anerje said...

Hi Kasia! Great - you have a Google account! And yes, I think Kathryn's message about the red hot poker nonsense is hitting home. I agree about the castle being a true Norman castle - it's hardly been touched since then, just added to in Medieval times.

Gabriele C. said...

Well, one can be glad for small steps.

The guides in Cawdor castle also have to constantly answer questions about iun which room King Duncan was murdered. Old myths die hard.

Anerje said...

small steps indeed! Old myths can be very lucrative!

Kasia Ogrodnik said...

Arenje, thank you for dropping in at our blog! Master Mainard was a teacher, guardian and nurse in one person. At least this is how I see it. He must have started with teaching Young Henry how to walk :-) Difficult beginnings. Again, thank you.

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