Peckforton Castle, Cheshire – Review
By Barney Bardsley
The very name has a glorious ring to it. Like something out of a Mervyn Peake novel – darkly brooding, faintly fantastical. And it lives up to its name, believe me. The castle, set high on a leafy Cheshire hillside, was the Victorian brainchild of wealthy landowner Lord Tollemache, who rather fancied having a medieval-style fortress for his family seat.
If location matters to you, then Peckforton Castle will not disappoint. It hides amidst a forest of green, making the slow drive up to the entrance (complete with moat and drawbridge-effect) both pleasurably secretive and spectacular. And once you are at the top, it’s time to draw breath. Because this castle is no two dimensional edifice. From the rich red carpets on the floor, to the three-foot thick walls, complete with turrets and narrow archery windows, to the graceful Minstrels Gallery, to the tapestry woven bedspreads and high backed wooden chairs, Peckforton is medieval-style magic.
If you want modern, airy, up-to-date furnishings, go somewhere else. Peckforton is all about the mystique of a vanished world. With its moody corridors and dark whispering corners, it is probably the perfect location for an atmospheric Christmas or New Year celebration. It doesn’t come cheap, but then, it doesn’t aim to. Peckforton sets out to create an ambience of quirky luxury and it does it well.
“The mystique of a vanished world”
There are two eateries in the castle: the 1851 restaurant, named after the year in which it was built, offers rich and subtle fare. Whilst the newly re-furbished 2010 brasserie has a more bite-size menu. When we visit, the brasserie is just up and running, and hasn’t quite got into its stride – but its high vaulted ceiling still made it an excellent place to sit nursing a drink and dreaming of princes (or princesses).
As you would expect from the surroundings, they offer all the bonuses one might associate with an olde worlde venue: from medieval banquets to a falconry experience. The birds of prey are housed right next to the castle entrance, are beautifully kept and expertly flown by the master falconers on site. More than the sumptuous food – watching those birds swoop and soar was the high spot of my visit.
Great fun. A great place. Give yourself a treat.
Peckforton Castle, Stone House Lane, Tarporley, Nr Chester, Cheshire CW6 9TN.
01829 260 930 – average nightly rate is £150 for a standard room for 2 on a B&B basis