Belvoir Castle launches its biggest season as part of 'new beginning'
Belvoir Castle has launched its biggest season in a decade following the opening of its £2.5 million artisan shopping village.
The castle, which is set on a hilltop overlooking the Vale of Belvoir, is preparing to welcome more visitors than ever when it opens its doors to the public tomorrow (Saturday) and promises visitors ‘a complete day out,’ following the opening of the Engine Yard retail village in September.
One of the major highlights at the castle this year will be the famous Knights of Nottingham as they return to Belvoir Castle for the first time in 10 years, performing their spectacular jousting on horseback.
Visitors will also be able to visit The Dooms, the castle’s underground tunnels, and get to meet a number of historical characters from the castle’s archives to bring the 1,000-year history to life for visitors of all ages.
Emma, The Duchess of Rutland launched the 2019 season at Belvoir Castle with the help of the Knights ahead of the public opening tomorrow (Saturday).
The Duchess said: “I’m delighted to be launching this new and exciting season which promises to be our biggest in more than a decade. We feel so very fortunate to be acting as custodians for what is a short time in Belvoir’s many centuries of history and we hope to share Belvoir’s many treasures, history, stories and art with an inviting offer for visitors.
“We want to embrace the public and welcome them to come and see us and share our home as it was.
“We are bringing the castle alive in the 21st century way. It’s a very special and momentous time for Belvoir.
“It feels like a new beginning.”
The Knights of Nottingham, who are also twice world champions and the original British medieval jousting display team, have been performing all around the world since being set up by 1970 by Sam Humphrey.
But it was at Belvoir Castle that they made their name after jousting in the castle grounds for an incredible 33 years, attracting thousands of spectators each year.
Sam said: “It is absolutely marvellous to be back. We always hoped to return. It is by far the best amphitheatre in the world. The bank can easily fit 2,000-3,000 people in at a time. It is a stunning sight and the noise is incredible.”
Once inside the turreted regency castle, visitors will meet a host of historical characters going about their duties, including the fifth Duchess Elizabeth Manners, reenacted by Amanda Sellers, who was instrumental in rebuilding Belvoir Castle after it was destroyed in a fire in 1816. They will meet housekeeper Elizabeth Stanley, re-enacted by Joanna Knox, as well as a maid played by Kate Willey and butler Thomas Douglas, re-enacted by Ian Selby, a Grantham councillor.
New for the 2019 season, they are just some of the characters who will be bringing history to life.
Ian said: “My character as the butler was in charge of the dining room, the parlour and the wine cellar and many of the staff. He had such an important role to make sure that the household ran smoothly. I feel honoured to work for the Duke and Duchess and in such an amazing work environment.”
Joanna Knox, who re-enacts the role of the housekeeper, said: “The characters bring the castle’s history to life and gives visitors the chance to see what it really meant to be in service at the castle.”
This year also marks the beginning of a £200,000 restoration of the rose garden.
An annual pass has also been launched to provide an affordable way for children, adults and families to visit the castle and gardens throughout the year.
A packed events programme is planned for the year ahead including:
‘Easter Eggstravaganza’, April 19-22, that includes a nursery rhyme treasure hunt, chocolate egg decorating, face painting and a chance to see incredible birds of prey in flight;
A Knight’s Quest: June 1-2, that will see the return of The Knights of Nottingham at Belvoir for the ever-popular jousting weekend. It will be a chance to see the beautiful horses and knights dressed in all their glory.
English Country Garden Show, July 3 and 14, for a quintessential British day out.
The castle will be open on selected dates from Saturday, March 2 throughout the year, from 11am-5.30pm.
For more information, visit www.belvoircastle.com