Berkeley Castle is a Norman Castle. The same family have lived here for almost 900 years. That’s the Berkeley family. The nearby village is called ‘Berkeley’ and the local pub is called the Berkeley Arms. You get the idea, this place is ancient, with vaguely feudal undertones still.
The history of Berkeley Castle is by turns gory and quirky. This is where Edward II was murdered, supposedly with a red hot poker. He was murdered in such a way as to leave few marks - the Castle guides euphemistically refer to this as being ‘surprised from behind’. England’s last Court Jester also died here - Dicky Pierce tumbled from the Minstrels’ Gallery and is buried in the nearby churchyard.
What you see today at Berkeley Castle is the usual stately home collection of film setty dining and bedrooms, but you’ll also see impressive medieval kitchens and a Great Hall. The cell where Edward was imprisoned is simple and atmospheric and the oubliette rather chilling.
Gardens are attractive, with lovely borders. There is a butterfly house to visit (buy a joint ticket). Nearby, but separate, is the house where Edmund Jenner pioneered innoculation. The museum is a good one.
Berkeley Castle may well look familiar, it has been used as a film set for varous productions, from Poldark to Wolf Hall to The Other Boleyn Girl. Open Sundays to Wednesdays (the place is often used for weddings on Saturdays). If visiting, you might like to combine with nearby Slimbridge Wildfowl Trust.
GL13 9PJ (for SatNavs)
Cotswolds Finest Hotels Nearby
Berkeley is visitable from anywhere in the Cotswolds with The Painswick Hotel, Calcot Manor and The Hare and Hounds or Whatley Manor being especially convenient.