I think I have possibly found the most doggy-friendly historical property EVER!
It’s always a struggle to find something to do with a dog inside on a rainy day, so to find a gorgeously sumptuous mock Norman castle that lets you take well-behaved dogs inside on leads is an absolute MIRACLE! Where is this wondrous place, do I hear you ask? Well, my saviour in this instance is the enchanting Eastnor Castle, near Ledbury, Herefordshire.
Eastnor Castle is a restoration success story – the castle was first built in 1812 for the Somers-Cocks family (no tittering at the back please!). However, like many other families their fortunes started to decline in the 20th century, and the house was left unoccupied on several occasions. Since 1989 the current owner James Hervey-Bathurst – grandson of the last Lord Somers – and his family have fully thrown themselves into reinvigorating the castle and it’s estate.
The highlight of Eastnor Castle are it’s sumptuous interiors – a true lesson in the evolution of Victorian taste and design. The Long Library and State Bedroom are decorated in the Renaissance Style, whereas the current Drawing Room was decorated in the Gothic Revival style by A.W.N. Pugin (yes, he of Westminster Palace fame).
I was lucky enough to visit Eastnor Castle on a European Cultural Heritage Open Day – this meant I got to see a lot of rooms that aren’t normally open to the public. This included a large number of bedrooms – my favourite bedroom was the Queen’s bedroom, an oriental themed bedroom used by Queen Mary on her visit to Eastnor in 1937. Queen Mary was an avid collector of antiques, and was notorious for ‘heavily hinting’ to her gracious hosts if she fancied any of their furnishings or ornaments. 99% of the time, this tactic resulted in the hosts gifting said furnishings to Queen Mary. However, apparently Queen Mary didn’t take a liking to anything at Eastnor – or the family decided to hide all the good stuff before she arrived!
The only criticism I have (and it is a very small one) as that there were no scones in the tea room the day I visited!