Thursday, 8 September 2011


Can you see the squirrel? Perched on top of the helmet? I'd love to know the reason its there. After browsing around a little, we ventured through the doorway and into a long passageway which brought us out into a sunny courtyard.
This would be the inner bailey, and the heart of the castle. Buildings range round it on all four sides, with a bigger gateway to my left. People are heading to a small doorway tucked underneath a set of steps with a right angle in them, which must lead up into the grand hall. Today only the antique dealers are allowed up there. So we step into another doorway, and I really got a sense of stepping into rather than through, for the worn flag stones were a little below the threshold. Notices warned of uneven floors.
Gaunt stone walls, odd shaped doors, even odder internal windows without glass so from the corridor we could look into a couple of dark rooms taken over by the inevitable coffee and scone cafe. Then  we took the stone stairs and arrived at the start of the antiques fair. Lots of stalls, with eight foots screens forming small rooms and spaces but unfortunately hiding a good deal of the castle structure! Lots of lovely things on display but the least expensive things we found were copies of John Speed's early maps - for £55. There was a wonderful sculpture of a green bronze dragon with gold-tipped horns and claws, perhaps three foot tall, and priced at £8,000, lots of jewellery and glossy 18th and 19th century furniture. 

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