If there’s one thing I love about the Great British countryside, it’s that at any moment you may just happen across an Unexpected Castle.
This happened to me not once, but twice at the weekend. The first was just around the corner from a wedding I attended – we snuck out partway through the dancing, past the twinkly lights and the revellers (and a few sheep), as we’d heard rumours of a castle. Not expecting much, we stumbled across the utterly magnificent Spofforth Castle.
Ducking under low door lintels, we discovered remarkably intact rooms, archways and mysteriously bricked up staircases. This 13th century beauty has survived remarkably, considering it’s been in ruins since the 16th century.
These decorative window elements have been preserved, which would have looked out from the hall over the green hill upon which we stood, taking photos with our mouths open. How had this been mentioned so casually?!
There were even some vintage looking warning signs. I wonder how long that one’s been there..?
Just time for a quick castle selfie and then back to the party.
The next day, suffering from a certain degree of post-weddingitis*, we broke our journey in the picturesque town of Newark Upon Trent. And look what stumbled across…
This castle was in a bit better shape, with a few internal features remaining. It’s a slightly older castle than Spofforth, having been built in the 12th Century – but it has had some fairly serious restoration efforts made since then, notably in the 19th century.
There were quite a few informative signs around the place, and despite being a Sunday afternoon, the place was deserted and it was like having your own private castle to explore. Which was pretty cool.
There were some good window details remaining here, too. I’m not sure what my apparent obsession with windows is – maybe I just like looking out of them, knowing I’m seeing the exact same view as generations past. Or maybe I just think they’re pretty.
All in all, I think it’s one of the things I take for granted about living in England which I really shouldn’t, and that’s the wealth of really cool history in our backgardens, or waiting for us on our roadtrip pit stops. How lucky are we?!
Have you ever stumbled across an Unexpected Castle? Or, are there features about where you live that you take for granted?
*This is a recognised (in my family, at least) slump we go through on the day/days after a wedding which you’ve been particularly looking forward to. It’s a combination of realising how much you were looking forward to it, and being sad it’s now over, the emotional hangover of losing/gaining a family member, particularly if you were especially close to the couple, various other emotional elements, and then maybe a bit too much time in the sun or in uncomfortable clothing, plus possibly a touch of a hangover… Does anyone else get this?