February’s Letter from the Curator (2018)

Dear Friends,

Welcome to February at Tutbury Castle with dramatic skies, high winds and snowdrops – there is even the odd daffodil peeping through promising that spring is just around the corner.

February is of course the month for romance. It is a good idea too as everyone is ready for a warm cuddle at this time of the year when winter seems far too long. Over the years we have had people proposing here on a fairly regular basis some of whom take things further and honour us by getting married here or by having their reception with us. One summers day over ten years ago I galloped across the grass with a first aid kit thinking a man had been taken ill when he fell on one knee. When I saw the ring box being held up I carried on jogging in a wide arc and then gave them a glass of champagne on the house The air was electric with other members of the public that May day as they joined in by cheering and shaking hands with the couple. A very happy memory. If you would like to propose here even if it is out of season we like to oblige so do call on 01283 812129 and give us a share of the romance. Meanwhile if you are proposed to this Valentine’s Day (or already have been) and would like to consider a beautiful, romantic castle then do get in touch and we would be delighted to tell you what is possible for a wide range of budgets. One couple came to us on Valentine’s Day to be married. They had been together for many years and had lots of children. The couple left the house in casual clothes and changed here into glamorous wedding clothes. There were only us at the wedding and my secretary Judith and I were witnesses. Then we set up the table in the great hall with flowers and lit the fire . A private meal for two was prepared and served and we let them be alone. It was absolutely glorious to have even been involved in such an occasion.

You will see on our new website that we are now offering tickets for the opening Easter weekend which features the ever popular Vikings. This group are particularly good with great attention to detail and a range of skills on show, not just warfare, although I must admit the warfare is the most popular for many of our visitors. It almost twenty years since I took over the castle and in the very early days the Viking group asked if I would wash their shirts in the castle washing machine as they had “blood” capsules in the battle and it had marked the shirts which they wanted clear for the next day. I did, but unfortunately the shirts came out pink – all over. I was not popular with the great hairy Vikings the next day as they set off growling in rose pink shirts hastily covered with other bits of costume. Do come at Easter as it is splendid to start the bank holiday opening weekend with lots of friends returning as they have done for years. We have watched families grow up from babies over the years and it is that very intimacy of the castle and our friendly guides that many people say they like best about the visit. If you haven’t been, do look at Easter or other up and coming events and see for yourself with a visit.

Yes, dogs are welcome who are well behaved and on a lead.

My talks ranging from Nell Gwynne to Elizabeth 1st. are now also on offer as is my new character the SOE Peggy Knight. It is a thrill to play such an anonymous, modest woman who fought valiantly for us behind enemy lines in France. More announcements as to when you can see her will come out on the website throughout the year.

May I wish you the most romantic Valentine’s day ever…


Lesley Smith