To visit Berkeley Castle is to step into the past. This is a very brief "taster" of what your tour of the Castle will include.
The Keep is the oldest part of the Castle (completed in the late 12th Century), with its trip steps and guard room.
It is unusual in that it surrounds the whole of the previous Castle's mound, or motte, instead of being perched on top of it. This made it strong.
During the Civil War in the 17th century the castle was besieged and a breach was made in the wall which to this day has remained. The dungeon and holding cell are also part of the Keep.
The King's Gallery
The King's Gallery, with the cell and dungeon where King Edward II was imprisoned and murdered. Portraits of many of England's monarchs line the walls, alongside some of Francis Drake's furniture.
The Tower Room
A safe room for times of siege
The Picture Gallery
The Picture Gallery displays a collection of mainly Dutch paintings, including a number of sea pictures featuring ships with a Berkeley connection. Sporting and hunting subjects are also shown, with a fine painting by George Stubbs as the centrepiece.
The Dining Room
This room used to be the billiard room, but now displays Georgian silverware and an interesting collection of family portraits, some with strong American connections.
The Mediaeval Larders, Buttery and Kitchen
The working hub of the Castle from mediaeval times to the 20th Century.
These rooms are of the fourteenth century and very little has altered. They would have formed the centre for the whole life of the medieval castle.
In the Buttery are solid lead sinks, pestle and mortar, chopping block and other kitchen utensils. The arches on the walls show the positions of the early bread ovens. Leading from the Buttery is an underground passage to the main well of the castle, which is beneath the Courtyard. Until recently, this well supplied the whole of the Castle with water.
The kitchen itself was probably first built as a free-standing tower. Its spider-web ceiling is unique, built high up to avoid sparks from the three large fireplaces that would have been constantly in use. The kitchen equipment of bygone days ranges from Tudor times to the 20th Century.
The Great Hall and Armoury
The magnificent centrepiece of the Castle where kings and queens throughout the centuries have been wined and dined.
Measuring 32 feet high and 62 feet long, this magnificent hall dates from the fourteenth century, built on the site of the original hall in the reign of King Edward III. The walls are hung with a fine series of Oudenarde tapestries illustrating the History of Queen Esther, and stained glass in the windows depicts the various alliances of the family.
The Grand Staircase
The Staircase features fine portraits and Tudor embroidery on locally made woollen cloth covering the walls.
The Morning Room, once the Chapel of St Mary
One of two chapels in the Castle, but converted by the 8th Earl in the 1920s.
In the 15th Century the chaplain here was one John Trevisa, a friend of the more famous Wycliffe. These friends believed that the Bible should be available in a language ordinary people could read. At this time, Norman French was spoken at Berkeley Castle.
Part of the Book of Revelation, in Norman French, was at one time written on the chapel ceiling. Fragments of it still remain: one of the earliest attempts to make the Scriptures readable to an Englishman of the time.
The Long Drawing Room
Contains a superb series of wall mirrors and a suite of 18th Century gilt furniture embroidered over ten years by the 4th Earl's wife, Lady Elizabeth Drax.
Looking down over the fireplace is a beautiful portrait of her successor, Mary Cole, the butcher's daughter from Gloucester who became the 5th Earl's Countess - eventually. This is one of the Castle's most enthralling stories.
The Small Drawing Room
The ceiling with its wealth of oak beams bears testimony to the shipbuilding skills of mediaeval times.
The Beer Cellar
Beer made in the Service Courtyard was piped under the Inner Bailey and into the Cellar to be stored in huge barrels. The smell of hops still lingers.
The Apostle Porch
The porch has beautiful carved doors imported by the 8th Earl of Berkeley.
The castle is surrounded by terraced gardens and overlooks the green fields of the Berkeley Vale.
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A tour of Berkeley Castle