October’s Letter from the Curator (2017)


Dear Friends,


Here comes autumn the glorious transition between summer and winter.  What do I love about autumn? For me it’s the mellow sunshine that brings the brightest of green on the fields and firecracker shades on the trees and bushes. When the sun is out, everywhere has a warm glow with the peaty smell of autumn in the air. This castle is so high up looking across the lush Dove Valley, it is the perfect place to see the seasons come and go.


Our gates are now closed for the season but re-open most days for booked parties or events on our autumn and winter programme. A large and cheerful crocodile of children has just left singing their hearts out about Henry VIII. Soon ghost hunters will be leaping about with torches in the dark evenings coming back for more, month in and month out. There is also a series of talks by me in costume combined with a meal and one to be announced soon for another historian speaker playing Richard III. We are very excited about having His Majesty here as indeed he did visit us for five nights just ten months before his death.


There is considerable controversy about Richard III with passionate advocates for his glory and equally those who would condemn his reputation to hell. He was only on the throne for two years and died young, the last monarch to be killed in battle. He will be remembered here at the castle over the winter months and years ahead. Richard III will be played her at the castle the night before his last battle at Bosworth Field. I have seen this performance and it is both poignant and captivating.


We are also preparing for the largest event in the castle’s calendar – Bonfire nights and fireworks with Vikings. Vikings caused fireworks one way or another wherever they went so it is suitable to have them again as they are forever popular here.


Once I actually booked Guy Fawkes and fellow conspirators to appear here and people moaned about it as they liked the Vikings much better. It didn’t matter that the whole point was Guy Fawkes when Eric Bloodaxe can be seen instead! I do love the great British sense of humour.  I am delighted to remind readers of this letter that our firework suppliers who have been displaying with us for over a decade, won the firework display world championship in Canada a few years ago which proves their fantastic standard and indeed why the event is so well attended. Tickets are available for Saturday 4th. November and Sunday 5th. November on line now, or alternatively, you can buy them over the phone with a payment card. I do want to warn you that they tickets do sell out and local people get really fed up about this but I am afraid it is first come, first served. We do have visitors for this event come from Scotland and the south coast of England to attend. Could I also remind visitors that we do not welcome hand held fireworks such as “sparklers” as the crowds can be substantial and risk of injury increased. Tickets prices are £8.50 for adults and £7.50 for concessions. The  Firework display begins at 8pm approximately. Please be aware that times may change due to weather conditions such as high winds.  We do always go ahead (or have so far) if it rains. We are in England in November!


Enjoy kicking those leaves around.



Best wishes to all


Lesley Smith



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