"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Monday, 17 June 2013

A Romantic Moated "Castle" and Gardens

For years I've been meaning to attend the NGS Open day at Maxstoke Castle and Gardens, near Coleshill. Every year I've managed to either forget to check the date and thus missed or when I have remembered its been raining heavily! Yesterday I finally managed to remember in time and, although cloudy, it was dry so Brian and I popped along to have a look round.

The castle (better described as moated fortified manor house) was built in the fourteenth century by William de Clinton, Earl of Huntingdon. Members of the family who currently own the Estate (The Dilkes later to become Fetherston-Dilke) first took over the estate in 1599.

The Castle is a perfect square measuring 60 yards by 60 yards and contains four towers and the gatehouse.

The clock on the gatehouse dates from 1757.

We walked round the courtyard first where herbaceous borders lined many of the interior walls

This is an Elizabethan addition to the Castle

Going through this archway leads to the Moat Walk

where more herbaceous borders lined the Castle Walls and roses climbed up the sandstone walls. The flowers were covered in bees.

Ivy leafed Toadflax had gained a foothold in crevices

as had what looks like a Chrismas Tree!

We then went and had a look round the inside of the house - photos were not allowed but rooms you could visit included The Banqueting Hall, The Oak Drawing Room and the Library. Several Kings have visited the Castle in the past - Richard III, Henry VII and the Drawing Room contained a fascinating Whispering Door recovered from Kenilworth Castle when it was dismantled after the Civil War. Furnishings included a Gunpowder Plot table which once belonged to one of the conspirators executed after the 1605 plot - Sir Everard Digby.

Interestingly there are links to Packwood House, Lapworth - in the eighteenth century (1759) Mary Fetherston-Leigh from Packwood House married William Dilke from Maxstoke Castle

The refreshments were very reasonably priced - 50p for tea and £1 for a HUGE slice of cake - coffee and walnut one of the nicest I have ever tasted!

Entrance to the Parterre, Walled Garden, Wildflower Meadow and Woodland Walk

I would love to know the name of this shrub bearing creamy/greeny flowers - it was just beautiful

I think this may have been an ice house??

A superb tree house nestled away - sadly no ladder!

And a nice clump of Ragged Robin!

California Lilac near the Parterre


I first saw a climber like this at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens and believe it or not, I couldn't believe it was real. I thought someone had painted the leaves pink and white!

Anyone for Tennis?

Vegetable Garden

Although it was very busy we had a really enjoyable couple of hours wandering around. Hopefully, next year I will remember the date and it won't be raining as I would certainly visit again.

Sorry about the number of photos - got a trifle carried away!!!!

Reference: Maxstoke Castle Guide Book


Countryside Tales said...

Ooh it's lovely is it for sale? Alternatively, if you go again next year can I come too? What a fabulous place. Loved those irises and the poached eggs and the little archways. Gorgeous.

Toffeeapple said...

No need to apologise, the pictures are super.

What a shame that you couldn't take pictures indoors.

Tea and cake prices were amazing!

Margaret Adamson said...

HI Not sure what the greeny cream flowers are. Could it be in the Cornus (Dogwood) family. The pink and cream leaved one is called Actinidia kolomikta. Margaret

Ragged Robin said...

Countryside Tales - I was rather impressed :) Husband and I were trying to work out how much it would cost and how family managed to afford to run the place! Glad you enjoyed :)

Toffeeapple - Thank you so much. Glad you enjoyed! It was a shame about pictures indoors as there were some fascinating features.

Not sure who was providing cakes and tea - but National Trust take note!! :)

Margaret Adamson - thank you so much for your comment and for naming the pink and creamed leaved climber - will look out for it now for my own garden. And I'll check out some of the Cornus species.

Wendy said...

Wonderful photos - there's so much to see there. The castle is very impressive; the lovely flowers and moat do soften it and make it look very romantic. I was interested in the history; I'm glad it survived the Civil War.

Ragged Robin said...

Wendy - Many thanks :) Must admit I was rather impressed :) Pity they are only open for one day a year! I was interested to discover that the person who first built it had built Maxstoke Priory two years earlier. Sadly, you can't access the Priory although a few parts are visible from the road.

Em Parkinson said...

What a fabulous place. I'm sure you're right about the ice house - it looks just like the entrances of other ones I've seen. £1.00 for a slice of cake! Am tempted to drive there right now....

Ragged Robin said...

Em Parkinson - We were rather impressed with it :) lol! :) re: the cake. Incredible bargain - I will be returning for next year's Open Day!

SeagullSuzie said...

I love the Open Gardens Scheme and have to say this one is spectacular. Your photos are great and how can you just put a few when it's all so beautiful? Hopefully planning to visit some around here and eat the cakes too!

Ragged Robin said...

SeagullSuzie - Thank you :) It is a good scheme and I am sad to say I haven't really paid that much attention to local gardens opening in the past (apart from the Maxstoke one). Will certainly find out about any more local ones :)

Enjoy your visits to yours!

Pete said...

ooh new one on me! lovely

and love the sculpture of the little girl

Ragged Robin said...

Pete - Many thanks :) Hard to find one you haven't visited :) You would have enjoyed the cake :)

Graham High said...

Really interesting post Caroline, and fantastic pictures! I've never been there either, but definitely keeping June clear for next year. Country Life has a 1974 picture of an interior (great hall?) available. If you want to look at it go to http://www.countrylifeimages.co.uk/Image.aspx?id=447f0ce9-23af-43f8-9945-faebbf265def&rd=2|Maxstoke||1|20|6|150#&&iid=447f0ce9-23af-43f8-9945-faebbf265def (copy and paste this url in your browser.) It's better than nothing! Best wishes, Graham :o)

Ragged Robin said...

Graham High - Thanks so much Graham - so glad you enjoyed. Thanks too for sending the link to a photo - I will check that out.

Well worth visiting - I'll try and remember to let you know the date next year (sometimes I think its held in May). The history is very interesting.

Have you started your history blog yet?

Best wishes


Graham High said...

Hi Caroline

I've spent the last fortnight going all around the Midlands checking out some historic sites in our own back yard. I have had to put the history blog on hold because of my commitments to the Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens Trust.

This is my final year as a volunteer though, and my last job will be this year's Christmas Event. I will then hand things over in good order to whoever else wants to take themm on.

Whilst being forever grateful to the Gardens for their support, I'm getting stale, and need to broaden the brief. I also think that someone with a new approach will do a better job.

I hope to find time for my history blog soon, but as whenever I say that something else happens, so I won't give a date!

Never fear. I've got gigabytes of photos, hours of digital video, and reams of ponderous and pretentious scribble. This has all got to burst forth at some point!

Thanks for looking out for the castle date for me next year, it's most appreciated.

Take care,

Graham :o)

Ragged Robin said...

Graham High

Hi again Graham

Sorry to hear you have had to put the history blog on hold for a while longer, although I can understand why. Sounds as though you have lots of great material though and I am really looking forward to your posts in the future.

There are some wonderful local places to visit and I can imagine you have had a great two weeks. There are still dozens of places I still want to visit locally. Have you heard of Guys Cliffe House near Warwick? I think they are doing guided tours in the next few weeks and its not normally open to the public.

You have done a superb job Graham at bringing PR for the Gardens into the 21st century. The blog is just brilliant and I am sure the facebook page is excellent (don't use facebook although I think I once created an account). You do a wonderful job on twitter too. You are going to be a very hard act to follow! Being a fellow Blogger I know exactly how time consuming it all is and some of your posts are very detailed let alone all the photos AND videos!!

The Gardens have been very fortunate indeed to have your help over the last few years and I am sure visitor numbers and knowledge of the Gardens have increased an awful lot as a result :)

By the way I really haven't forgotten your book - feel very guilty over this. But it is safe in my china cabinet!!!! I will make a huge effort to get it back to you within the month!

Take care and best wishes