Hedingham Castle, Essex, England February 2012

by Emma Bumpus on February 20, 2012

Driving into the aesthetically magical grounds of Hedingham Castle provided atmospheric images of knights, kings, dragons and banquets within a theatre of romance, adventure and pure medieval history, perfect for careertraveller.

Formal waters, herons, pheasants and deer set within acres of enchanting winter woodland echoed scenes from St Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe with Robin Hood and his Merry Men, which overlooked by the mesmerizing twelfth century Norman castle, was our adventure waiting to happen.

Keen to prolong the intensity of mystery in the making, we were escorted to the castle lodge, our Tudor historical haven for the night. Spacious and beautifully maintained with a modern twist, we relaxed in historical indulgence as illustrious nobles whilst the children ran around jousting!

A two minute walk to the castle on a mount provided stunning views of this amazing treasure trove location, depicting fairy tale romance and legend in the most amazing Garden of Eden. Observing the Queen Anne House, Tudor bridge, octagonal dovecote and parkland, offering various walks around the lake and woodland, made it clear why Hedingham Castle is an exclusive wedding venue.

Entering the magnificent castle was a time traveller experience steeped in history, education and charm. Climbing the spiral staircase to the guardroom filled us with illusory thoughts of swashbuckling soldiers above the dungeon. Housing the gift shop and tearoom, the Garrison Floor was an unexpected delight for the children who revelled at the mock medieval gifts. Mulled wine for the adults enhanced the beginning of our guided castle tour with local historian Jane Greatorex, who rather animatedly captivated the children with tales and knowledge of Norman life in Northern Essex. Exceptional!

Jane’s tour began from the outside, introducing us to the amazing architecture and battles Hedingham castle has endured. From the first floor we became familiar with soldier attire, which cleverly began unravelling the magnificent history of medieval life and the de Vere family, from whom the castle descends.

The banqueting Hall, an imposing space of medieval artefacts and architecture with a timbered ceiling supported by the largest Norman arch in England, 28 feet wide and 20 feet high, provided an amazing insight to castle life. Full of detail and antiquity with the Minstrel Gallery overlooking above, was an amphitheatre – like show of past medieval business and entertainment. Images of banquets with musicians, jesters and travelling acrobats made it clear why this enamouring venue is a popular choice for romantic candle lit civil wedding ceremonies. Beautifully unique, a careertraveller favourite!

Panoramic stunning views of the castle grounds from the fourth Dormitory Floor gave us a real sense of Hedingham’s 110 feet high Norman Keep, filling the air with pure romance, culture and a subtle sprinkling of magic. Whilst the adults enjoyed just being in the moment, the children, rapturous with wizardry Harry Potter – like images of sleeping in a castle, gave careertraveller bewitching thoughts of a future trip to the Warner Brothers Studio Tour London and The Making of Harry Potter. Thrilling!

No trip to Hedingham Castle in February would be complete without attending the Sunday Snowdrop Event; the perfect excuse to explore the castle’s woodland walks which offer a divine backdrop for nature lovers, families and couples, not forgetting the native wild birds and deer! Dazzled by the breath-taking winter fairyland, we marvelled at the “milk flower” snowdrops, offering seasonal hope, cheerfulness and pearl like beauty.

A special thanks to Hedingham Castle for providing us with an extraordinary unique castle experience, which hosting a range of medieval events from mock jousting events to falconry, offers a great family day out in Essex. Set in the medieval village of Castle Hedingham, dotted with striking Georgian houses and the most amazing St Nicholas Church detailing Norman architecture, our historical adventure was complete. Magical!

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