February’s Letter From the Curator (2019)

Dear Friends,

As winter draws on, I am appreciating the glowing fire in the Great Hall more and more! It not only provides some very gratefully received warmth but gives the room a cosy and inviting atmosphere. It is easy to imagine past inhabitants of the castle huddling close to the heat emanating from the grand fire place. By February, it is normal for most people to look forward to the promise of spring. However, the month of February offers its own celebration- Valentine’s Day!

Like many of our traditional celebrations, Valentine’s Day originates from a mixture of both Christian and Roman traditions. It replaced the previous celebration of Lupercalia- the festival of fertility and harvest. It is easy to assume that Valentines traditions, such as sharing cards, handwritten notes and love tokens, is a modern concept. After all, weren’t people from the past extremely prude? Not so- evidence of written Valentine notes date back to c.1400! I’d like to believe that perhaps the custom was practised slightly earlier, so that John of Gaunt and his beloved, Katherine Swynford, may have sent each other Valentines notes- maybe even inside the walls of Tutbury Castle! Even so, by the seventeenth century, Valentines Day became a very popular celebration, so we can assume that Nell Gwynne and Charles II most likely exchanged notes and perhaps some gifts!

Here at the castle, we are honoured when couples wish to celebrate their special day here. Let me assure you, we still feel as blessed to be included in the start of a couple’s journey into marriage as we did the first time that we hosted a wedding in the castle grounds! Whether you’re looking for an intimate civil ceremony in our historic Great Hall or dreaming of a larger celebration in our stunning modern marquee, we will work with you to make sure that every detail of your wedding lives up to your dreams! Simply call us on 01283 812 129 or email weddings@tutburycastle.com to talk to our friendly and professional weddings organiser. And if you’re considering popping the question (or dropping hints for your partner to do so!), then the romantic setting of Tutbury Castle is the perfect venue! Give us a call and we will do all we can to help you to ask the all-important question!

Happy Valentines Day to you all!

Best Wishes

Lesley Smith, Curator.

To find out more about the history of Valentines Day, visit https://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day/history-of-valentines-day-2