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Deerhound Racing at Berkeley Castle


Deerhound Racing at Berkeley Castle

Deerhound racing spectacle, medieval mayhem and beautiful butterflies take centre stage at historic Berkeley Castle this May Half Term (24 – 27 May)

Visitors to Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire will experience the sights and sounds of a popular 17th century sport on Sunday 24 May, when the historic family home provides the perfect vantage point from which to watch deerhound racing on the old golf course next to the Castle.

Deerhound racing, once a favourite past-time of the aristocracy and an exciting activity employing one of the oldest breeds of hounds, has been revived by The Deerhound Club since 2002 and has grown in popularity.

Starting at 12 noon, the spectacle will see dozens of deerhounds, accompanied by their owners dressed as lords, ladies, monks and other period characters from the 17th century, led out by a piper to race in pairs, each hound wearing a red or white collar.

Unlike in the 17th and 18th centuries, no deer are harmed in the re-staging of the spectacular event.  Instead each race will see a deerhound duo chasing a motorised fur-covered lure over a mile, with the first dog to reach the post pronounced the winner.  The winning dog competes again on a knockout basis and, at the end of the day the overall winning deerhound will have raced four times without being beaten.

Charles Berkeley, who heads up the team of staff and volunteers involved in the day-to-day running of the castle, says:  "Bringing the excitement and spectacle of deerhound racing to Berkeley Castle will be one of the highlights of an exciting year here.  The speed of the dogs, the period costumes and the historic setting all promise to contribute to a memorable event for our visitors to experience as part of their entrance on the day."

And to celebrate the final May Bank Holiday and half term, the picturesque medieval fortress will have jesters and archers on hand on Sunday 24 and Monday 25 May to enthral and entertain younger guests.  Entertainment takes place throughout the day and children who arrive dressed in costume as kings or queens, princes or princesses, knights or other figures which reflect the castle's history or romantic past will be admitted for free.  Free trails, arts and crafts workshops and quizzes will provide additional amusement.

All additional activities including the deerhound racing and medieval entertainers are included in the normal Castle entry admission fees of adults £10.00, juniors (3-16) £5.50 whilst children 2 and under go free. A family ticket (2 adults, 2 children) costs £28.00 and concessions (full time students and over 60s) cost £8.50. There is free admission for children in costume throughout May half term.

Visitors will also have the opportunity to visit Berkeley Castle's Tropical Butterfly House, which contains 42 exotic species, freeflying in beautiful surroundings.  The house is home to the Atlas Moth - the world's largest moth species.  The Butterfly House can be visited with Castle entrance but is also open to non-Castle visitors. (£4.50 for adults, £3.00 for children per visit. Under 3's go free.)

Recently a filming location for the acclaimed BBC2 drama Wolf Hall, Berkeley Castle is set for one of its most exciting seasons yet in 2015.  Charles Berkeley adds:  "Our team is looking forward to welcoming new and returning visitors to a host of exciting events between now and the end of October. We have a fabulous new exhibition to announce soon, period costume activities and a stunning Harvest festival planned for the months ahead.  There really is something for everyone here this year."

Castle visitors can also enjoy fascinating tours of the Castle’s apartments taking in history from the 12th century to the present day with highlights including a medieval dungeon (King Edward’s Cell), larders, buttery and kitchens, stunning drawing rooms a Great Hall and an armoury.  Refreshments are served in an award-winning Yurt tearoom.


Explore Gloucestershire
19 May 2015


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