Belvoir Castle is the ancestral home of the Dukes of Rutland. The land was a gift from William the Conqueror to one of his Norman barons – Robert de Todeni who fought for him as his Standard Bearer at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The first castle which was begun in 1067, was constructed primarily to defend its Norman owners from attack, and so took full advantage of its defensive position high up on the ridge. By 1464 the Wars of the Roses had taken their toll on the building and it was more or less in ruins. Some 60 years later it rose again, but as a nobler structure with a central courtyard, parts of which can still be recognised today. But in 1649 that too was destroyed, by Parliamentarians after Royalists had seized it during the Civil War. Its third incarnation, began in 1654 was designed as a large family home with no connotations of defence or war.
The castle you see today finally emerged in the early 1800s and was built for the 5th Duke and Duchess of Rutland between 1801 and 1832 by architect James Wyatt.
The castles was given the French name Belvoir – meaning beautiful view – now pronounced ‘beaver’ remains as one of the most magnificent and beautiful Regency houses in England.
Belvoir has many rooms with layers upon layers of history interwoven into the very fabric of the building. Here is a taste of some of the rooms at Belvoir…
The Guard Room
This room was designed to leave a lasting impression on any visitor to Belvoir, once alighted from your carriage in the covered Portico, then walking down the Pre-guard room flanked by 18th Century Brown Bess Flintlock Muskets you enter a room with a wow factor. The guard room was designed in true gothic revival architecture – accomplished by architect James Wyatt, commissioned by the 5th Duke and his wife Duchess Elizabeth
The Kings Rooms
Consisting of a suite of 3 rooms they were designed for the exclusive use of The Prince Regent – later King George IV who was a close friend of the 5th Duke of Rutland, later in 1843 the rooms were occupied by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert on a visit to Belvoir.
One of the most evocative rooms in the castle. This was the first room in England at it’s time to be decorated in the style of Louis XIVI. The panellings came direct from Madame de Maintenon’s palace in Paris and were used by the 5th Duke to furnish the room in a decadent and opulent fashion following the sudden death of his beautiful wife Elizabeth. It is often remarked that the room is a representation of his grief at his loss where he put his heart and soul into making the room somewhere she would have loved.
Belvoir Castle is adorned both indoors and out with the products of creative artists who have been admired – or hired – by each generation of the Manners family, who have arranged these paintings, sculptures and furnishings to reflect their innermost aesthetic preferences.
For those of you who have chosen to hold a civil ceremony we have two fabulous rooms to choose from. We are licensed to hold civil wedding ceremonies in both the Guardroom and Ballroom. The Guardroom, traditionally the grand entrance to the Castle, has high ceilings and open fires on either side. The walls are adorned with a fine display of military treasures providing an impressive but romantic setting for your nuptials. The grand staircase descends two floors and makes for a dramatic entrance by the bride with guests looking on in wonder. The Guard Room is licensed for up to 100 guests. The Ballroom has floor-to-ceiling stained glass windows, ornate chandeliers and gothic archways, creating an elegant, fairytale setting for your ceremony. The room is modelled on Lincoln Cathedral and is licensed for up to 120 guests.