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A Complimentary Ticket

The major landowner in these parts is the Eastnor Estate. Eastnor village (where I regularly go to the Pottery) and the castle are a few miles down the hill, but the deerpark is so huge that the back entrance to the estate is only a few hundred metres from my house. This has caused some problems in the past. The massive fireworks competitions that are held annually in the castle grounds are frustrating in that I can hear every single rocket but can’t actually see anything, as there’s a massive hill in the way. The occasional loud rock concert is just something I have to put up with. The real problems in the past have been with the music festivals – particularly the Big Chill. The traffic for that festival used to be horrendous, and was extremely inconvenient when Christopher was dying, so I was very pleased when it stopped coming to Eastnor.

The estate has in the past taken a somewhat blasé approach to its relations with its neighbours, and generally just ignored us. We were apparently the Great Unwashed, compared with the gentry in the castle, and our feelings really didn’t matter.  In the last year of the Big Chill I suspect the criticism had got to them a bit, as the closest locals, including myself, were offered the option to buy a discounted day ticket to the festival – fat lot of use to me, as I had no interest in it whatsoever. It was bad enough hearing the music all evening when the wind was in the right direction! 

It’s been years since I last visited the castle – I think the last time was with Christopher and his step-father, Peter, so that was probably about ten years ago. Christopher really didn’t like the castle and what it stood for; the in-your-face inherited wealth and privilege really offended his principles! I remember that he reluctantly accompanied Peter and me around the staterooms, muttering under his breath! He was also offended that it’s not a “real” castle, but what he called a “Victorian fake”, as it was built only 200 years ago, and was deliberately designed in the style of a Norman castle to show off the owner’s wealth and prestige. 

This year, the castle seems to have got a new marketing manager, because I received a very polite letter a few weeks ago, giving a list of all the public events at the castle over the summer, and enclosing a voucher for a complimentary family ticket to the house and grounds, valid on any day that the castle was open this year. That’s a much better way to get your neighbours on side! I decided to take them up on their free ticket, and went to Eastnor this morning. They were holding their annual Chilli Festival, with lots of stalls in the grounds selling all sorts of chilli-related products. I don’t actually like chilli, but there were also stalls selling locally produced cheeses and meats, cookery demonstrations, a mariachi band and lots of food stalls, not all of them based around chilli. The house was also open to the public,  and that was my favourite part of the trip. I found it very interesting to walk around the mock-baronial hall, with the bought-in suits of armour, and oil paintings with a very tenuous link to the family. I could still hear Christopher’s voice chunnering away about how fake and over-the-top it all was!

{ 3 } Comments

  1. pauld | 5 May 2016 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    A totally fake castle, built to make a family look more important than they really where.

  2. Gillian | 5 May 2016 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    You sound just like Christopher! That was his view entirely!

  3. pauld | 7 May 2016 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    well, wifes grandfather was a butler there many years ago. Personally i’m not into all this topping you cap, bowing, curtsying to ‘landed gentry’