Sudeley Castle, Winchcomber
PUBLISHED: 16:37 04 February 2010 | UPDATED: 15:17 20 February 2013
'Quick, Iris - there's a man in a bowler hat bouncing on the Charles I bed!'
Sudeley, as might be expected, becomes a hive of activity in the summer months. Visitors in their numbers arrive from near and far, children on holiday rush to the adventure playground, an exciting schedule of events start to unfold on an almost daily basis, and my family seem to invite everyone they know to drop in, often unexpectedly, for play, refreshment and general good times. It is a happy time of year, weather permitting. Last year, as we all remember, weather did not permit, and many of our plans were washed away in the rains and floods. However we are keeping all things crossed for a long and brilliant 2008 season.
People, for the most part, enjoy visiting Sudeley and over the years I have received many kind letters attesting to this. I recently opened a letter from a lady from Guernsey and am still purring with pleasure at her glowing comments about the garden and tour of the private wing where she said her party was joined by my six-year-old grandson who filled in some missing facts, unknown even to our learned guide, about life and items of interest in the castle, with special attention to his train set.
It is not always plain sailing for our in-house experts and I am reminded of a challenging moment a few years back as told by one of our senior guides, now retired, Alan Brandt. People often good-naturedly enjoy catching the guide out and Alan was showing around a particularly inquisitive and probing group. Amongst them, however, was a somewhat rattled father with a truculent and restless five-year-old boy.
Addressing the child, Alan asked him what he was interested in and was informed that he had come to see where the dragon lived. A wink from the father who mouthed 'try and talk yourself out of that one' activated Alan's creative resources, and he quickly replied that it was a pity that they had not telephoned before their long journey because there was a whole family of dragons who lived at the Castle including a baby named 'Cedric' but they had all gone to the seaside for their holiday, all except Cedric, who was too young for the long trip. He was very shy and asleep under a big pile of grass in the car park where they would be able to see his hot breath streaming out of the top. Luckily Alan had noticed the gardeners slow burning rubbish fire when he arrived that morning, and soon after he received a message from the father saying "Well done!"
We've entertained some pranksters too. Once, many years ago, Iris, responsible for the security and efficient running of the rooms on view, was called on the security phone to come urgently to the Chandos Bedroom. A group of young revellers were bouncing on the Charles I bed, one wearing a bowler hat, and all in a high state of inebriation and abandon. More accustomed to helping older people navigate the staircase or find their umbrellas, Iris and our other shocked guides, inexperienced in such behaviour and 'language', were called on to act as bouncers,... and that tale has gone down in the annals of Sudeley ever since.
I could write a book called Good Guide Stories and may continue this theme another time. There never seems a dull or even repetitive day at Sudeley.... well occasionally during the long grey winter months but we won't dwell on that now. Lest 'summers lease hath all to short a date' I am rejoicing in the coming of the longest day, the thoughts of balmy evenings under the stars, the energetic enthusiasm of children, picnics, flowers, summer scents, and all the other sublime gifts of this time of year, should we be so lucky. May the heavens think kindly on us this summer.... we deserve a good one.