Berkeley Castle

A Perfect Day Out for History and Garden Lovers at Berkeley Castle

A perfect day out for history and garden lovers is Berkeley Castle. If you are a fan of ghostly haunting then Berkeley is also the place for you. Famed as the UK’s oldest inhabited castle, the Berkeley family have been in residence for 850years since it was built by permission of Henry II by William Fitz-Osbern. For the visitor, you will be transported back in time and enthralled by this beautiful castle and its gardens, which are consistently given a five star rating by gardening enthusiasts. With something for everyone all the year round, this castle will leave you enchanted.

Berkeley Castle
Berkeley Castle. Photo by Sy, licensed under CC BY 2.0


The castle however, is not just a fairytale version and had a very important role in many wars. The only aggressor to damage it was Oliver Cromwell.

The castle is best known for the imprisonment and murder of Edward II. The monarch was deposed by Queen Isabella and Roger Mortimer her lover. They were hoping that a few days incarceration in the hideous dungeons with the rotting corpses of animals and humans would kill him through disease. It was a common way to dispose of nobles who displeased the Earls. Any person locked in this dreadful place breathing disease ridden air, did not survive for very long.

Edward II however, was made of hardier stuff and surprised everyone becoming ill and recovering throughout a period of five months. Queen Isabella then gave the order to Edward II’s jailers to dispose of him as they saw fit. His murder is too gruesome to report in this article but on the anniversary of his death, it is said his screams may be heard resounding around the castle halls.

The Castle

Berkeley Castle was originally built to keep out Welsh raiders and designed to make life difficult for the enemy. There are murder holes, arrow slits, steps especially designed to make the aggressors trip over, massive barred doors, a portcullis and worn stones where over the centuries, guards stood watch over the castle.

The softer side of Berkeley is its fairytale castle manifestation. Not surprisingly, it is a popular venue for weddings. Built of warm pink stone, it takes on different hues in the setting sun for added romance. The battlements themselves drop almost sixty feet to the Great Lawns below. The inner courtyard is designed for people with an extraordinary mix of small towers, windows, and doors of every shape and size. The surrounding lands of the castle would often be flooded as an extra defence against marauders.

The castle has survived any gentrification as was common during Georgian and Victorian periods and remains a Norman fortress, and perfect example of mediaeval domestic architecture. It still retains a curtain wall and over the centuries has been enlarged into the substantial castle it is today

The Gardens

The gardens complement the castle with terraces climbing up almost thirty feet to the gun terraces softening the façade of the castle with colourful flowers and plants.

Over a long time, the harsher aspects of the castle have been mellowed with flowers. The last major planting to occur was by Gertrude Jekyll at the beginning of the last century.

Berkeley roses are delightful and have a rare and heavy scent best experienced in June. There are many rare species of plants, shrubs, flowers, and trees for your enjoyment. The gardens specialise in scent and you will be overwhelmed by this olfactory treat.

There is evidence of earlier periods and the bowling green where Elizabeth I played can be clearly seen below the gatehouse. On your exploration of the gardens, you will find a venison larder and the place where beer was brewed for the household. During medieval times, beer was drunk at all times including breakfast.

A butterfly house is an attraction not to be missed. With over forty-two species from as far afield as Indonesia and Japan, this vibrant colourful oasis is a tranquil and beautiful spot to stay awhile.

It is worthwhile planning to spend a day at Berkeley Castle, as there is so much to see and do while feeling you are visiting a family home, such is the welcoming atmosphere. Every member of your travelling party will find something of interest, so add Berkeley to your priority list of things to do while staying at Cooks Green Cottage.

Berkeley Castle

6 Interesting Facts About Gloucestershire

Harry Potter filmed in Gloucestershire
Harry Potter filmed in Gloucestershire. Photo by jesuscm, licensed under CC BY 2.0
There are so many interesting facts and figures about Gloucestershire and we come across new ones from time to time.

It is always so interesting to find out global impact from long ago events or little snippets of information that add interest to the different places of interest that can be visited around the county.

Here we present six interesting facts and a round up of the “best of the rest” so you can bear them in mind while you are visiting us here at Cooks Green Cottage.

Six Interesting Facts about Gloucestershire

  1. Gloucester’s Walls Ice Cream factory is the biggest in all of Europe. Built in 1959, there was a major expansion in 1981 when Unilever consolidated all ice cream production in Gloucester with the closing down of its factory in Acton, London. Walls was originally a meat producer and Walls sausages were one of its more famous brands. However, in 1922, sales were falling in the summer time and to avoid redundancies in their work force, they started to manufacture ice cream and the rest is history. Do not forget to try one of Wall’s lovely ices on your travels.
  2. The US national anthem is set to a tune written by John Stafford-Smith. Known as the Anacreontic Song, it was written for a London based gentleman’s social club. The tune became popular in America and the lyrics from the poem “Defence of Fort McHenry” written by Francis Scott Key was set to the music. Renamed the “Star Spangled Banner” the song soon became a patriotic anthem for the USA. The tune was also used as a national anthem by Luxembourg briefly before it was adopted by the USA as national anthem in 1931. What does this have to do with Gloucester you may ask? Well, John Stafford Smith is buried in Gloucester Cathedral.
  3. In a local election, it is not possible to have a draw. One candidate must win outright. In the case of a tie, the matter must be resolved by a toss of the coin and this almost happened in Cirencester in 1892 when Conservative candidate Colonel Chester-Master had supposedly won by the small margin of three votes. His opposition challenged this and a recount showed the votes were equal. Neither candidate was brave enough to win by toss of the coin, so a re run of the election took place and the opposition candidate a liberal won! Perhaps the Colonel should have gambled his chances after all.
  4. Cheltenham owes its status a spa town to a flock of pigeons. People kept noticing a large flock of pigeons pecking away in a field on the town’s edge. In 1715, on further exploration, it was discovered the pigeons were congregating at the site of a mineral spring, which is what was attracting them. In honour of the pigeons and to show the town’s gratitude to them, pigeons are featured on the town’s crest.
  5. The Crecy Window inside Gloucester Cathedral is the largest window made of stained-glass window in the UK. It measures in at 12m x 24m and commemorates Gloucestershire knights who fought at the battle of Crecy on the winning side.
  6. The very last battle of the English Civil War was campaigned at Stow-on-the-Wold. In March 1646, the Royalists knew the battle was a lost cause but 3000 men stood to fight to try and make their way to Oxford and Charles I to buy the monarch some time. Sir Jacob Astley and his troops were hopelessly outnumbered and the commander was forced into making a last stand in the market place, where he finally surrendered.

The Best of the Rest

  1. Most of the prestigious buildings in the Gloucestershire area were built when there was great wealth from the main industry – wool from sheep.
  2. Two well-known Gloucestershire castles Sudeley Castle at Winchcombe and Berkeley Castle have royal connections. Sudley is associated with King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I visited Berkeley Castle. Both places are great to visit.
  3. A man from Stroud invented the very first lawnmower. The Museum in the Park has some of these early machines on display.
  4. The Romans also loved visiting Gloucestershire, so much, so they stayed and left a heritage and many artefacts and buildings. The Corinium Museum in Cirencester documents Roman life.
  5. Gloucester Cathedral was used in the “Harry Potter” films. The cloisters played the part of the Cloisters at Hogwarts School.

This is just a taste of the fascinating facts available about Gloucestershire and we hope you will enjoy discovering even more on your visit to our holiday cottage.

Berkeley Castle

9 Top Children's Attractions around Gloucestershire

Bourton-on-the-Water Model Village
Bourton-on-the-Water Model Village. Photo by Simon Q, licensed under CC BY 2.0
For people visiting Cooks Green Holiday Cottage with children, it can sometimes be hard to keep the little ones occupied, although with our lovely cottage garden there is plenty of space to run and play. It is always enjoyable to visit some interesting and fun filled places with the kids so we have put together some of our favourite attractions that we think you and your children will remember long after your holiday is over.

1. Castles are always great favourites and a good place to start. Berkeley Castle is one of the best. It is possibly one of the most outstanding examples of Medieval domestic architecture in England. Special events such as the Steam Rally and the ‘Berkeley Skirmish’ medieval re-enactment are well worth looking out for.

2. Slimbridge Wetland Centre is world renowned for its collection of swans, geese and other wildfowl, and is hailed as the birthplace of conservation. There is a year-round programme of walks, events, workshops and spectacular wildlife encounters. Many of the facilities and activities are designed specifically with children in mind.

3. Exploration of the two-wheeled variety is something all the family can enjoy. Pedalabikeaway near Coleford in the Forest of Dean is a place where you can hire bikes for the whole family and hit the trail on one of the many marked cycle tracks in the Forest. Natural beauty, tranquility and exercise make the day go pleasantly past.

4. Ideal for children, the 1:9 scale replica of the village of Bourton-on-the-Water may be found in the garden of Bourton’s Old New Inn. Complete with houses, church and shops, built in the traditional Cotswold stone of the original. The model village is a masterpiece of craftsmanship.

5. Underground exploration in Clearwell Caves, near Coleford, will make an exciting trip for the family. There are nine impressive caverns to explore, and some of Britain’s oldest underground mine workings.

6. An action-packed day of fun is to be had at Cattle Country near Berkeley. In the play barns you will find drop slides, wavy slides, ball pools and much more, whilst outside there is lots to do as well, including rides on the mini train, or bouncing on Britain’s largest jumping pillow. For animal lovers there are opportunities to see deer, bison and cattle, as well as the chance to handle smaller animals.

7. During the maize growing season, Elton Farm creates three new giant maize mazes, large, medium and small. The mazes are themed and provide an unusual and entertaining challenge (potentially a long one!) for all ages with special events always going on. The late night special event is great fun but bring your torch with you!

8. The Dean Forest Railway is a good place for railway enthusiasts young and old. In addition to heritage train services for visitors to the Forest of Dean, the railway runs special events suitable for all the family, such as a ‘Day out with Thomas’.

9. Gloucester Folk Museum is a treasure trove of items relating to local history and just right for a rainy day and with free admission you can’t go wrong. Domestic life, crafts, trades and industries from about 1500 to the present day are exhibited. There is a Toys and Childhood gallery, with toys to play with and a puppet theatre.