Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Berkeley Castle

Barkeley Castle seen from the river.
Berkeley Castle, pronounced Barkley, was built by the Normans after they invaded England.  It's location protects the lands from invasion by sea up the inlet to Gloucester.  The Berkeley family still owns the
castle along with 6800 acres of land and the right to hunt lands all the way to London!  They seen to be one of the few Norman families, who held on to their properties through all the upheavals of the past 1000+ years.  The current Mr. Barkeley is the oldest son of the last Lord Barkeley.
Looking into the center courtyard through the entry arch.

The castle is an imposing structure.  Positioned on the very top of the hill, you can see off in all directions, so your enemies can't sneak up on you.  The family remained Catholic, even though Henry VIII declared everyone to be Church of England.  I don't know how they managed that, but Henry even came to visit with his wife Anne Boleyn.  Maybe the Berkeley's were just awesome hosts!
An outside wall of the castle.

The Berkeley's were also good at supporting their locals.  One of the most important was their doctor, Edward Jenner who first developed the idea of vaccinations, first with small pox.  One of their parish priests wrote an amazing epithet to the last court jester in England, who died after a fall in the castle.  The man went on to write several books including Gulliver's Travels.  Ever heard of Jonathon Swift?
The design on the barrel of a cannon.

We first heard of the Berkeley's in Virginia at the Berkeley plantation, the first place that Thanksgiving was celebrated in America ( forget those old pilgrims in Massachusetts!).  They supported it as a business venture, which turned out to be successful.  We can also thank the Berkeley's for the first bourbon distilled in America. 

Just as we were about to leave, the hunting hounds down the hill in their kennels started howling.  I'm sure the neighbors love that!

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