Posted On July 29, 2021
Eleven of us set off in three cars for our visit to Belvoir Castle near Grantham. We were offered a parking space inside the grounds which we readily accepted as it was a fair walk from the regular parking at the bottom of the hill.
We had asked if we could book a guided tour but they were unable to offer one due to the COVID and training of new guides, but we were met at the door by a gentleman named Kerry who said he would be our guide. A lovely surprise and very much appreciated as Kerry was an absolute mind of information.
The present castle is the fourth to be on that site the first being built in 1067 after the land was given as a gift by William the Conqueror to Robert de Todeni whose sarcophagus complete with body now resides in the chapel but had originally been buried in the wall of the priory at the foot of the castle in 1088. The present day Castle was built by Elizabeth the 5th Duchess of Rutland between 1801-1832. Architect James Wyatt who was instrumental in the redesigning of Windsor Castle helped her create her dream which remains today second only to Windsor Castle as the best regency castle in the country. It has featured in many films and used as a double for Windsor, in fact there was a film crew there on the day we visited. The family all live at the castle in various private apartments as do some of the staff which gives the castle a lovely welcoming and homely feel as soon as you walk through the door.
Kerry was able to take us into rooms not normally accessible to the general public where the present Duke with great foresight and sympathy has converted beautiful regency rooms complete with regency beds and furniture and the original Chinese silk wallpaper into rooms you can stay in complete with modern conveniences (en-suite, tea marking facilities and mini bar). Incidentally did you know they had en-suite facilities in the 1800’s not quite what we expect today but none the less.
We saw the beautiful paintings in the portrait gallery, worth millions. Elizabeth’s favourite room modelled on Versailles all pink and gold, the secret panels where mistress’s left notes for the master and vice versa.
We were told stories and anecdotes about life in the castle, the people camping by the lake who were woken at 4.30 am by the pack hounds baying waiting for their daily morning swim in the lake. All too soon we were back in the entrance hall, but had to hurry as we were late for our lunch booking at the Fuel Tank Cafe at 1pm but were assured we could come back afterwards and go back into the castle.
After a very hearty but very windswept lunch we headed back to the castle to see “below stairs” the kitchen and pastry room with a very early fridge. The brewery and the “Dooms” where all deliveries were brought underground by horse drawn train on rails. At 4pm the huge doors were closed and it was time to leave we agreed we would all be going back for another visit if nothing else to see the acres of gardens we never caught a glimpse of.