England Is Calling: Our Own (Semi) Private Castle

IMG_5456I wrote about my sadness at leaving Scotland in my last post. However, I had a couple of big surprises for the kids that I couldn’t wait to spring on them. They’d have been surprises for Doug too, if I ever managed to keep anything from him. Since I’d needed him as a sounding board, I’d run most of the trip by him as I planned it.

As I got into the planning of the entire trip, I grew determined to find a castle where we could stay a night. I found a few before I happened upon Augill Castle, which uses the very Internet-friendly URL of stayinacastle.com. Can’t get much clearer than that, right? It was on our way (mostly) to see our friends in the Worcester area, but we had to beat the feet getting out of Scotland to get to Augill in time to make the stay worthwhile. You have free rein of the castle once you check in, so it pays to squeeze every last minute out of it.

IMG_5462The kids were über curious about our next destination and I tried to be vague. I finally told them it was a surprise. I think they learned to trust my travel decisions on the trip, but I still imagined I could feel their confusion when we finally got within range and Doug pulled down what was essentially a dirt road through grass and shrubs. They could see the towers in the distance though, so I finally gave up the surprise to much excitement. I think we all were happy at the prospect of sleeping in a castle, but also of just settling in for the day and night with no other plans than to relax.

IMG_2067I had picked the room called the Orangery, which featured a large bedroom with a dayroom attached that had two beds for the kids. The bathroom was bigger than our master bedroom at home, though all I could think was that it would be a heck of a thing to heat it in the winter. The Orangery was semi-detached from the main castle, with a private entrance and garden. Luckily for us, it drizzled lightly while we were there, but there were no torrential rains soaking us as we walked back and forth between our room and the main part of the castle.

Besides an assortment of other “bedrooms”, the main rooms of the castle were open to all guests. These included the dining room, a kid’s dining room, the cinema room, a quiet room, a main parlor-type area, and the bar, as well as a lot of outside areas that were rooms unto themselves. There was also this fun bathroom:

IMG_2057I had originally gone back and forth on whether we wanted to book the sit-down dinner they offer every night, but in the end the menu didn’t have much on it that attracted me or Doug. However, we did book the kids for the Spaghetti Bolognese, which they ate with other children on their own. Doug and I opted for a late afternoon tea instead. We’d been wanting scones and clotted cream our entire trip and finally, finally got it, along with other sweets.

IMG_2058We did eat breakfast at the dining room table the next morning and it was a lavish affair, all of it delicious.

IMG_2061The owners of Augill endeared themselves to me with the open bar that operated on honesty. They stocked it and you wrote down what you took. It was easy–perhaps a little too easy. But Doug and I got to relax while the kids opted to watch a movie in the cinema room with some new friends from Australia. There were a number of places to sit and we struck up conversations with some of the other guests.

IMG_2068Becky had a great time playing the castle’s piano since she hadn’t had a chance during the entire trip. Doug and James caught up on a few games of chess in the study/quiet room the next morning, before we left.

IMG_2070I’m still not totally clear as to whether the castle is really classified as a castle or it was a stately manor home. Either way, it counts as Castle #8–proving that I’d keep my promise to the kids of visiting 8 castles on the trip. Augill was in disrepair when the owners first found it nearly two decades ago and decided to lovingly and painstakingly renovate it room by room. They’ve done a beautiful job!

IMG_2069The exterior is equally beautiful.

IMG_5455Becky, especially, didn’t want to leave and, while it made me know how much my surprise was appreciated, Doug and I were looking forward to seeing our friends Simon and Rachael. So we bid the castle “adieu” with very fond memories of living like near-royalty for a few moments in time.

IMG_5475

Next: Seventeen Years Is Way Too Long

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