The ancestral home of the Duke of Rutland is steeped in history and fairy-tale grandeur. But this neo-Gothic masterpiece is no relic
It’s a rare thing to find, that balance of history and modernity; opulence and functionality, but sitting atop a hill in the eponymous vale, Belvoir Castle does just that.
The castle cuts an imposing figure nestled on the border of Leicestershire, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire, carrying all the gravitas you might expect from a place that has housed the same family in an unbroken chain for almost 1,000 years. However, in spite of its considerable history, the castle (completed in its current form in the 19th century on the ruins of various fortresses first built in 1067, on land gifted by William the Conqueror) is more alive with activity today than it ever has been.
Arriving at the castle is like stepping onto the set of a period drama. Belvoir was Windsor Castle’s double on Netflix’s The Crown, and has served as a backdrop in Hollywood blockbusters The Da Vinci Code and Young Victoria. Beyond the beauty of the castle itself is a vast, varied offering of activities and experiences for all generations to enjoy.
Various paces of life
It’s easy to spend hours on end at Belvoir. For families with youngsters who have bundles of energy to burn, a £350,000 adventure playground is an exciting new addition. Covering four acres, it features a timber castle, ship and towers inspired by the castle’s iconic architecture and is a safe space for imagination to run free, offering something for children of all ages to explore. For those looking for some retail therapy, the Engine Yard artisan shopping village has a garden centre, restaurant, bar and shops boasting a fabulous range, from local Belvoir produce to gifts and fashion personally curated in the Duchess’s Gallery.
Stunning gardens, featuring statuary, topiary and David Austin roses, also hold RHS Partner Garden status, and the extensive grounds have been restored to original Capability Brown designs (discovered in the castle archives a few years back). The estate’s commitment to sustainability is shown by the planting of more than a million trees over the past 17 years, and five acres have been set aside to make a haven for flora, fauna and rare species of birds.
The castle’s resplendent estate rooms, featuring works from Holbein, Rubens and Gainsborough, offer something more cerebral, with the odd touch of contemporary quirkiness from the current Rutland family. And, while many would consider a visit to any English stately home incomplete without a spot of afternoon tea, the oh-so-British ritual holds a particularly special resonance at Belvoir Castle, which, in the mid-1840s, is where afternoon tea was ‘invented’ – very much by accident – by the Duchess of Bedford. On a visit to the 5th Duke of Rutland, the Duchess began to feel peckish in the middle of the afternoon, and took tea and light refreshments to stave off the hunger pangs until dinner. It’s fair to say it caught on, and today, Belvoir’s newly refurbished Aviary Tea Room provides the perfect backdrop.
A staycation to remember
For some, a day is simply not enough to sample all that Belvoir has to offer. Options for an overnight stay are plentiful. Vale House, a nine-bedroom boutique Georgian guesthouse located at the Engine Yard, offers vibrant interiors curated by the Duchess herself behind a gorgeous pink façade, while the glamping site promises a summer staycation to remember, with the kind of vistas that leave no doubt as to why the Norman invaders gave this place the name ‘bel voir’ (meaning beautiful view) back in the 11th century. And, for those looking for something particularly lavish, there are a number of rooms available in the castle itself.
With a gypsy caravan, a shepherd’s hut and a luxurious lakeside lodge also among Belvoir’s array of accommodation, there’s something for everyone.
Work, play or a bit of both
From team-building days to corporate conferences, product launches to Christmas parties, whether it’s work, play or a bit of both, Belvoir’s unique combination offers the perfect setting for companies of any size. Belvoir boasts a luxury and diversity of space, and with the flexibility to create bespoke events with an experienced in-house team, the castle, its grounds and its people make for the perfect combination in delivering memorable experiences.
The perfect shoot location
Belvoir offers the finest pheasant, partridge and duck reared on the estate and, with more than 75 drives, the castle makes for the perfect shoot location, whatever your level of experience. No two drives are the same, with different locations, topography and the instincts of the birds making each drive a new challenge.
As with everything at Belvoir, the opportunity to enhance the stay is never lost. Guns may choose to stay in one of the opulent state bedrooms at the castle, or in the cosy shoot lodge at Croxton Park. The castle’s personal chef will deliver the finest culinary delights and the superb hospitality team will look after you to the highest standards. To complete your trip, bespoke evening entertainment, such as whisky tasting, a casino night or even a medieval banquet, can be rustled up to make your visit one to remember.
There are still a few dates left in September this year, so please get in touch if you’d like to book.
Belvoir Castle may have a fairy-tale quality, but there’s no sense of ‘once upon a time’ there. It is a place for the here and now, whoever or whatever you’re looking for. Now is the time to experience it.