Monday, May 26, 2008

Meet the Tudors, Sudeley Castle

For the third May Bank Holiday running, I was at Sudeley Castle in Winchcombe, Gloucestershire for more Tudor nonsense. It promised to be bigger and better than in previous years, and in some way it was. I headed off on Saturday morning nice and early, and I was soon hacking up the M5. Winchcombe is a delightful town and Sudeley is a little treasure of a place - the final resting place of Katherine Parr, Henry's final wife.
In previous years it has just been me wandering around as Henry and meeting and greeting people, but this year I had two other friends to saunter about with. One was a delightful Irish lady called Orla Beardwell who dressed up as a wonderful Queen Elizabeth I, the other was a wonderfully insane character called Bob Mason who was dressing up as Will Somers, Henry's jester. Bob's other wonderful claim to fame is that in a previous time of his life he was the near legendary Phantom Flan-Flinger from cult TV series "Tiswas" in the late 70's and early 80's. You can see us pictured here in our first picture at the visitors reception centre. There were other attractions for the weekend, including archery, an executioner (complete with body hanging from a jibbet), singers, and even Davy the Jester, late of Leeds Castle and this blog.
Saturday was a delight, hot weather, lots of visitors, loads of photos taken and generally a fun and happy atmosphere. Sunday and the weather broke and it poured and poured with rain and was generally cold and miserable, but we still had lots of visitors. Bank Holiday Monday came complete with more cold weather and loads of rain and sadly a drop in visitor numbers. However, everyone seemed to have a really good time and the staff and people of Sudeley Castle were as friendly and charming as ever.
For my digs I stayed at Oaklands B&B virtually opposite Blair House where I stayed last year. The hosts there were wonderful and friendly and have nurtured a very happy family atmosphere for the whole place and it really does feel like a home from home. It still smacks a little of it's previous life as an old folks care home (hand rails down every corridor and lots of hand rails in strange places in the toilet!) but they do a breakfast that even defeated me (I asked for a much smaller one on Monday morning) and I can heartily recommend it for a genuinely warm and charming welcome.

It was good to meet so many nationalities and friendly people during all the walkabouts and meet and greets over the weekend, including my first ever tourists from Uruguay! On Saturday poor old Orla got very sunburnt across her shoulders and chest but I am sure this is what kept her mostly warm over the colder Sunday and Monday. Jenny from Sudeley Castle who was looking after all the bookings and events had worked with me before when she used to work at Dean Close Prep in Cheltenham (see this blog passim).
There is talk of a special event at Sudeley next year to mark Henry's 500th anniversary of his ascension to the throne. It would be lovely to be involved, so as I have said before "watch this space".
My drive back was relatively quick and uneventful, and however nice my three days at Sudeley Castle were I am very much looking forward to sleeping in my own bed tonight!

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