August’s Letter from the Curator (2021)

Dear Friends (and I include in that all our friends from far shores who read this letter),

We have had a really happy few weeks at the Castle seeing people rushing in happily to enjoy the extraordinarily beautiful views and bask in the sunshine.

The castle is bouncing again, as it should at the sound of children laughing and playing in a freedom some of them have never known, growing up during lockdown. Brides and grooms are arriving, happily aware they can have the sort of wedding they really wanted and now can have safely. Yes, it has been wonderful.

My after lunch/tea/supper talks are filling up, so I am able to produce Nell Gwynne, Elizabeth I, and all my other characters who have been sitting in the royal wardrobe – bored! My brand new talk is as Queen Katherine of Aragon which few of you will have seen yet.  The first performance was shortly before lockdown for Peterborough Cathedral, where Queen Katherine is buried. Hundreds of people came to see her in that remarkable sacred space and it was an unforgettable experience for me. Now you can see her and I do want to send my warmest congratulations to my costumier Shirley Newton for the spectacular gown, that made people cry out in pleasure at the sight of it. The costume is every bit as spectacular as my Queen Elizabeth I, and nearly as heavy! My next appearance at the Castle for the general public is on Friday 17th September with a glamorous Tudor-themed meal first in the Great Hall.

Another brand new talk which was originally booked by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and now available to our visitors is ‘Giving Birth to the Tudors’, which includes images as well as a talk. It’s not as gruesome as you think,  but the content covers beliefs in society that are both fascinating and amazing. As I am a sixteenth century specialist historian in medicine, this is very much my home ground, so I do hope you enjoy it and it doesn’t take too long for your eyebrows to return to their usual place!  Don’t forget although that is a public event so single tickets can be bought, you can always book my characters as a private event at the Castle if you have a party of 20 people or more. If you look at the bottom of this letter you will see the characters available.

”The Slave girl” is a new presentation by a talented new member of the team Olivia Sismey and explores the life of a slave girl in England at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries, just before slavery became illegal. As a monologue this is a moving piece and very balanced, available for groups including schools.

The male characters are presented by historian Dr Gareth Williams, who also offers lectures on a variety of topics to do with Anglo-Saxons and Vikings, as well as the history of the Castle. The presentations in character are not suitable for the under 16’s, except for school bookings when the content is edited appropriately.

Ahead of us are lots of wonderful events to enjoy, so look out for our August Fairytale Bank Holiday celebration, which is always so popular as our princesses are remarkable, and there are lots of other joyful things to see and do over the two days. Do book on line in advance if you can. We do release some tickets on the day but often sell out completely so it really is advisable to book.

Come and see us, you will be very welcome.

Best wishes

Lesley Smith

CURATOR

BOUDICCA . KATHERINE SWYNFORD. KATHERINE OF ARAGON . ANNE BOLEYN.  ELIZABETH I. MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS. NELL GWYNNE. THE WITCH OF MANNINGTREE. GEORGE ELIOT. PEGGY KNIGHT (SOE)

MARGARET THATCHER. SEX & THE TUDORS. GIVING BIRTH TO THE TUDORS. PROSTITUTION IN VICTORIAN LONDON.

THE SLAVE GIRL.

RICHARD III. CHARLES II.