- Belvoir Castle
thumb|right|The south west range and round tower of Belvoir Castle from Jones' "Views of the seats of Noblemen and Gentlemen", published in 1829. The medieval castle had been replaced after the Civil War and again rebuilt in the romantic style illustrated between 1799 and 1816, but in the latter year it had been almost destroyed by a fire. It was rebuilt again to largely the same designs, and barring minor details this image shows the castle as it remains today.Belvoir Castle (pronounced "Beaver") audio|En-belvoir_castle.ogg|listen is a
stately homein the English county of Leicestershire, overlooking the Vale of Belvoir(gbmapping|SK820337). It is a Grade I listed building. [IoEentry|189989|Entry on Imagesofengland.org.uk]
A Norman castle originally stood on the high ground in this spot. During the
English Civil War, it was one of the more notable strongholds of the king's supporters. It eventually passed into the hands of the Dukes of Rutlandand following a fire, was rebuilt by the wife of the 5th Duke, and gained its present Gothic castle look. The architect James Wyattwas chiefly responsible for this restructuring, and the result is a building which bears a superficial resemblance to a medieval castle, its central tower reminiscent of Windsor Castle. The present Castle is the fourth building to have stood on the site since Norman times.
Belvoir was a royal manor until it was granted to Robert, 1st baron de Ros in 1257. When that family died out in 1508 the manor and castle passed to George Manners, who inherited the castle and barony through his mother. His son was created Earl of Rutland in 1525, and John Manners, 9th Earl of Rutland was created
Duke of Rutlandin 1703. So Belvoir castle has been the home of the Manners family for five hundred years, and seat of the dukes of Rutland for over three centuries.
The castle is open to the public and contains many works of art. The [http://www.qrl.uk.com/m_home_old.html Queen's Royal Lancers Regimental Museum] of the 17th and 21st Lancers was established here in 1964 but left in October 2007. The highlights of the tour are the lavish staterooms, the most famous being the Elizabeth Saloon (named after the wife of the 5th Duke), the Regents Gallery and the Roman inspired State Dining Room.
The castle sits in a vast estate of almost 30,000 acres (120 km²). The landscaped grounds, nearer the castle, are also open and the Root Houses, built by the fifth Duke's wife, can also be seen. The present Duchess is restoring
Belvoir Gardens, which includes the Secret Valley Garden and the Rustic Summerhouse of 1800.
The estate is open to the public and offers a range of outdoor activities. Many people take advantage of the shooting, fishing, quad biking and four-by-four driving, Throughout the year they also host sheep, duck and dog exhibitions.
The Duke and Duchess of Rutland also manage Manners Arms [http://www.mannersarms.com] , a country hotel and restaurant on the Belvoir estate.
Modern day usage
A corner of the castle is still used as the family home of the the Manners family.
Several films and
televisionprogrammes have used it as a location, notably the film " Little Lord Fauntleroy" starring Sir Alec Guinness. The castle itself was used as a filming location for "The Da Vinci Code" - it represented Castel Gandolfo, the Pope's summer residence. In September 2007, Belvoir Castle was also used as a filming location for " The Young Victoria", due for release in 2008.
Since Spring 2006 the castle has been the venue for an annual Folk Music weekend. Organised by volunteers, and run on a shoestring, the event has a unique style and atmosphere. Folk music performers from all over the region forego their usual fees and expenses, for the chance to play in the magical setting of Belvoir's ballroom, guardroom, old servants' hall and the Regent's gallery.
Belvoir Castle is the host of Belvoir Fireworks, a popular firework competition running in the UK. [http://www.belvoirfireworks.co.uk www.belvoirfireworks.co.uk] .
* [http://www.belvoircastle.com/ Official website]
* [http://www.belvoircastle.com/thegardens.asp Belvoir Gardens]
* [http://www.mannersarms.com/ Manners Arms]
* [http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=belvoir+Castle Flickr photos tagged Belvoir Castle]
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