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~ Feast fit for a King ~ The last bank holiday of August was my Nan's birthday. As 70 is a special number she planned her birthday for the family to have a medieval weekend in Caldicot. She has been planning this for over a year so I know it was going to be a brilliant evening. The main part of her birthday was to go to Caldicot Castle for a banquet. We all had medieval outfits where some were not as pleased to wear as others, but I think we all looked great. After we arrived at Brooklands Motel we got ready into our outfits and all met on the balcony for a toast. We then only had a five minute walk down the road to the castle, which the locals driving past thought was interesting. Twenty two people walking down the main road in Medieval gear. The men's outfits were brilliant and we had a large mixture of different outfits including knights, priests and a Robin Hood. As we walked up to the draw bridge the view was brilliant and we all waited at the front gate to be instructed in. It was a lovely time to spend the evening and the next day we came back to the fun day held there. ~ About the Castle ~ Caldicot Castle is situated in the beautiful woodland and country park of Caldicot. It was founded by the Normans in the Middle ages and was past on to Victorian times and turned into a family home until the 1960's. The Castle has a lot of history. It is known for its colourful setting and romantic history including stories told by the staff. The castle is set within fifty acres of park with rivers and nature surrounding it. The park offers walks and picnics set alongside the Castle walls and usually hosts fairs and fates. The Castle is very child friendly and offers many activities for them. Incuding puzzles, games and rein acting of historic scenes. They can have a game of chess, drafts and play around the Castles gardens. It looks quite sinister from the outside but when you enter it is really beautiful. The history is seen by the architecture and furniture which has been kept. The large 13th century Norman gardens as kept its basic features with lots of space for picnics. The Castle was also at one point in possession of Thomas of Woodstock who was a son of King Edward III. It was eventually neglected and fell to ruin in Victorian era. It also has a reputation for a number of ghosts that hunt it including The Grey Lady, Hooded monks and other family members from the 18th century. There have been sights of furniture moving and cold spots in certain places around the Castle. ~ Opening Times ~ 1st April - 31st October - 11am -5pm Last audio tour at 4pm You can visit outside these times by arranging a banquet, wedding and catering functions. ~ Contact ~ Caldicot castle, Church Road, Caldicot, Monmouthshire, NP26 4HU 01291 420241 Email- Caldicotcastle@monmouthshire.gov.uk ~ Admission ~ Adults- £3.75 Children, OAP's and Students (5-17)- £2.50 Family (2 adults and 3 children) - £12.00 ~ Find the Castle ~ By Car I drove up by car as it only takes an hour and ten Mins from Bath. From the M4 you need to take junction 23a and B4245 road to Caldicot. If you come from the M48 then you can take junction 2 and follow signs for Chepstow and this will also led you to Caldicot. The castle is sign posted when you reach the town. Other transport You can also catch a train to Caldicot and buses run from many towns including Cardiff, Bristol and Newport. ~ Our Feast ~ The Castle offers a remarkable and amazing Medieval banquet that you can book online. You have chance to sit and get a drink before anything starts and gives time for everyone to arrive. As we were shown into the Guard room there were about four other parties that joined us. Only one other family was dressed up but we liked getting into the atmosphere of the time. The parties were all different and one was there to celebrate a couple's anniversary. I think it is a great way of celebrating an occasion. There were staff that were also dressed and there to entertain and serve us. We were first told a bit of history and there were others providing background music. Once it had begun we were not allowed to bring any 21st century drinks with us. The Baron and Baroness for the evening were announced which was my Nan and my uncle who we nominated. He had no idea of this until that moment. They would be the ones sat at the head of the table and were taken off by staff. We were then called by family name and shown into the banquet hall. Climbing twisting stairs and corridors and seated on wooden benches and tables. ~ The Hall ~ The grand hall seats around 100 people and is set out in rows of benches with the top table higher than the rest. They were set out to set about ten people on each bench and had only plates lay from the Medieval era. The atmosphere was lovely and shown in the pictures I have included, the tables being lit by candles. There was a small platform facing the Baron and Baroness where we were entertained though out with music, songs and dances performed by professional Welsh musicians. The staff provided us with everything we needed and there was one server allocated to each table. The room was decorated with flags and it really felt historic. The feast started at about half eight where we were served our five course meal. The food was fantastic and a real eye opener for the children. We were served meals from the era and were only allowed to use what they used, meaning no knife and fork just a small knife for meat and your hands. I have found the menu which I have written below- 1- Royal Platters - Cured and smoked meats, olives, stuffed vine leaves, bread, welsh cheese and oils. 2- Barons Broth- Hearty broth of vegetables, pearl barley and herbs served with ground bread. 3- My Lordes- Slab of oiled pork 4- The Courts Chicken- Quarter roasted towl, rolled in Mace, black pepper and lemon sauce. Served with jacket potato and salad. 5- The Knights and Wenches- an ice cream based dessert. The meal costs around £39.00 per head and there are vegetarian options which include pasta dishes and stuffed peppers. We had a very humoured and it was very enjoyable. I loved the layout of the room and everyone looked like they loved it. The servers were polite and got you anything you needed. They introduced themselves once we were seated. You did not have to wait a long time for the food and were entertained during each course. I liked the way everything was kept to the times. If you had to leave the room at any point you had to stand and courtesy the Baron and Baroness and wait to be dismissed. I think my uncle liked this. You are served mead, wine, ale and heart all night but can order jugs of water and coke for the children. I really liked the food and they accommodated well for the disabled and my young niece who didn't stop eating the cheeses and vines leaves. She was quite scared at first of the nice and laughter but song was fascinated by the singing and music. They provided her with a high chair which attached to the table so she could be at the same level as us. I think the children really enjoyed it and it was something different to experience. There were songs in Welsh which my Nan looked pleased to know which a nice culture hit was and it was good to see people from different places. There was plenty of food and think that it was good value for money. I think I would have done quite well eating all that back then. My Nan seemed to really enjoy the meal and I am glad everything went brilliantly. The Banquet finishes at about 10.30pm were you can go down to the bar and have some late night drinks. I think many people were pretty dunk due to the flowing mead and wine. It gave a chance to relax and talk to other people. There are many tables to sit and chat and you can walk around the gardens which the kids preferred to do. There were tents set up inPictures of Castles (Wales) Castles (Wales)the Castle ground which we were told was for the rein acting tomorrow. We met many other people and socialised with locals. The bar was slightly packed but you did not have to wait too long for drinks. There was also a good selection of drinks to have for such a small bar. Last drinks were served at 11.45pm and we then made our way back. It is not very well lit so we had to bring torches to walk down the woodland road to our hotel. The hall also caters for Christmas parties, children's parties and murder mystery parties which sounds interesting. ~ The Next Day ~ The next day we went back to the castle once we had left our hotel as we heard it was hosting a fun day in the Castle and around the park. The car park was two pounds. You also have to pay if you want to enter the Castle and we brought a family ticket for £12, (other prices above). There were many things for children to do and stalls of all different kinds. We then went to have a proper look around the castle and find out more about it. There were different information boards set up inside ach pat and it was great to read about it's history. There are also rooms set up to show furniture and tools from the era. One room had a bedroom and a dining room with the table from the Castle home. On the Castle lawn there was archery set up for the children and rein acting of stories. We watched one about the famous Robin Hood which was ok, more for the children I think. There is a coffee shop which is open daily and you can buy a range of hot meals, snacks and drinks. The bake house is available for free use by local groups. We did not stay there long as I had to drive back, but we looked around a car boot sale and the Castle gift shop which had many souvenirs to buy. There were great opportunities to take some good pictures of the area and castle. There were all different stalls and some raising money for charities and causes such as Support Our Troops and Children charities. We had a few goes on a raffle and looked around the gifts. There were also plenty of places to eat with trailers parked along the stalls. ~ Good Points ~ - Everything pretty much. The Banquet evening was superb and full of entertainment and delicious food. - Beautiful views - Helpful staff - Good history - Socialising - Fun days ~ Negatives ~ - The only negative I would really say is that there was a really annoying man stood outside when we were having our banquet who was keeping an eye on everyone. We were not allowed to smoke anywhere on Castle grounds so you had to walk around and cross the draw bridge. We couldn't take drinks over the bridge and he kept following us to make sure we didn't do anything. ~ OVERALL ~ Caldicot Castle is a brilliant place to visit. It is historical and beautiful to see. The sights seen from the Castle tops are stunning and over looks the Welsh countryside. You can also see the two bridge crossing to Bristol. The Banquet was amazing and suggests this for any special occasion. The food was really nice and the drinks even better. I enjoyed the events which were offered and the staff were very polite and helpful. It is defiantly worth the visit. I would go again if we arranged another occasion to celebrate. If you are ever in the area it is worth a look. Hope you enjoyed the read. Blackmagicstar4. Oct 09. Also published soon on Ciao.