This month the Palace House team visited Longford Castle, which has surprising links to Beaulieu…
Once a year the House Manager organises a visit to another stately home for the Palace House guides as part of their training. This year was an extra special treat as the group was invited to visit the collection at Longford Castle in Salisbury, which is only opened for 22 days of the year for booked groups of up to 20 visitors at a time.
Longford Castle is the family home of the Earls of Radnor and is currently occupied by the 9th Earl and his family. The family name is Bouverie, and after the marriage to a Pleydell heiress in 1747 the family name became Pleydell-Bouverie.
The Earls of Radnor and the Montagu family are related through the marriage of Pearl, 2nd Lady Montagu of Beaulieu (widow of John 2nd Lord Montagu) to Captain Edward ‘Ned’ Plyedell-Bouverie, second son of the Earl of Radnor. In 1937 Pearl and Ned had a son, the Hon. Robin Pleydell-Bouverie who is the present Lord Montagu’s uncle.
You can learn more about Pearl Plyedell-Bouverie’s remarkable life in a special exhibition at Palace House, The Lady and The Rebel.
Before our booked tour at 2pm we started our day at the Salisbury Tourist Information Centre where we were greeted by Jane and given a brief history of the city and maps and guides to help us navigate, which were very helpful. We had some free time before lunch so we decided to head for the cathedral, on our way there passing beautiful medieval buildings and shops selling unusual gifts, our group’s favourite was finding ‘fudge henge’ a small scale model of Salisbury’s most famous site, made entirely out of fudge!
At the cathedral the group had time to explore the Magna Carta exhibition, important to the history of Beaulieu as it was the same King John who was made to sign the Magna Carta, who also founded the Abbey at Beaulieu. There are four original copies of the Manga Carta around the country, but the room attendant assured us that Salisbury’s was the best!
On the way to lunch there was just enough time to visit the St. Thomas Becket church which was built by the labourers employed to construct the cathedral, as their own place of worship and it’s almost a mini cathedral in itself! It houses the famous ‘Doom’ painting showing man’s decent into heaven or hell and it is very striking.
We stopped for lunch before heading on for Longford Castle which gave us the opportunity to bring out a cake and get the restaurant singing ‘Happy birthday’ to the Palace House Cook who was celebrating a big birthday!
We picked up the coach from a local pub which took us directly to the castle; the driver gave us a brief history of the surrounding landscape and the castle as we made our way there.
It was fascinating to learn the history of the building, the family and the Collection. Every room was exquisitely polished and cleaned, with furniture you could see your face in. The family rooms felt homely and lived-in whereas the large entrance hall and the connecting staircases gave the impression of grandeur and status.
We all learnt lots of fascinating facts on the tour, and Peter our guide did a wonderful job of bringing the castle to life for us. The collection includes some of the best known artists including Van Dyke, Reynolds, Teniers and Gainsborough, as well as oriental porcelain, Brussels tapestries and exceptional 18th century furniture. The stories behind the collection were fascinating.
It was then time to all head back on the coach to Beaulieu. The coach dropped the group back to the local pub where we found a queue forming out of what looked like a very large photo booth in the car park….. on closer inspection we found it was a fresh milk dispensing machine straight from the local farm! Needless to say many filled bottles of milk later we were heading back to the forest, just in time for dinner.