An ancient castle is a magical backdrop for your wedding. Pull up the drawbridge and let the carousing commence with our pick of the best
Words: Hollie Bond
The Tower of London
The Tower of London
is about as magnificent and medieval a venue as you can get for pre-wedding drinks or a post-ceremony dinner. Give your wedding breakfast a stately tone by holding it in The Jewel House, where guests can have a private viewing of the crown jewels. For maximum medieval effect, though, it’s the St Thomas Tower, the famous White Tower (pictured) and Upper Wakefield Tower that have most allure. Thick stone walls, huge statement fireplaces, stained-glass windows and opulent motifs all contribute to the theme. Just imagine adding your wedding day to the list of important events those fortified walls have witnessed. Magical.
tel 020 3166 6226
Alnwick Castle, Northumberland
It’s Alnwick’s two rings of buildings – set around a small central courtyard – that make it such an attractive choice for a wedding. The Capability Brown-designed approach is spectacular, but it’s the quintessentially medieval architecture that makes this castle famous (as well as its role as Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films and as Brancaster Castle in Downton Abbey). The Guest Hall is all wood-beamed roof and stone archways, while The Gun Terrace is far more romantic than the name suggests: picture a sweeping lawn peppered with ancient cannons. Champagne reception with a historical twist, anyone?
tel 01665 511086
Warwick Castle, Warwickshire
Get hitched here
and your wedding will join a long line of spectacular events that began with the Earls of Warwick, who hosted royalty back in the medieval era. Channel this history by picking from entertainment that includes a fighting knights spectacle and a falconry show. Inside, the historical experience continues with reception rooms decked with knights’ armour and bedrooms furnished with four-poster beds. You can even glamp for the night in a medieval-style tent – although we’re guessing this wasn’t actress Anne-Marie Duff’s choice of accommodation when filming here for the period drama The Virgin Queen
tel 01926 406660
Leeds Castle, Kent
’s grounds and huge moat make an exquisite backdrop to a wedding. Once a Norman stronghold, the picture-postcard castle has been home to no fewer than six queens of England. Henry VIII made his mark here too, transforming Leeds from a castle into a royal palace. Much more recently, it was a backdrop for The Hollow Crown
, starring Benedict Cumberbatch. The Banqueting Hall here is the place for an indulgent wedding reception, with its large tapestry depicting a medieval marriage. You can then dance the night away in the Heraldry Room.
tel 01622 767877
+ Historian, TV presenter and chief curator at the Historic Royal Palaces, Lucy Worsley is just the person to ask about the most memorable weddings of the era. This is what she has to say about biggest celebrations: ‘Royal weddings of this period would’ve been defined by the rich, bold colours of illuminated manuscripts. Afterwards, the Archbishop of Canterbury would’ve gone – with guests – to the bedroom of the newlyweds to give them his blessing.’
+ After a medieval wedding, guests would break into the newlyweds’ suite to bring them an energy-giving potion called ‘bride’s broth’. Indeed, it wasn’t unusual for guests to remain as witnesses to ensure the marriage was actually consummated.
Fancy something from a different time in history? Click below to step back in time on your big day and star in your own period drama.
This article was first published in SquareMeal Weddings 2017