Although we provide exclusive access to some of the UK’s most outstanding country manor houses and estates, offering houses to hire for almost any occasion, we can also provide access to one or two rather special castles. If you have ever looked at the range of houses in the country for rent you may have missed the fact that there are a few rare castles on offer too, and one of our personal favourites is Bath Lodge Castle.
One look at its fortified battlements, towers and portcullis is enough to make you think you’ve been transported to the Middle Ages, or Hogwarts! Certainly Bath Lodge Castle looks every bit the part, but what exactly is its history?
In fact as the name suggests Bath Lodge Castle is the principal Gate Lodge to what is one of the UK’s largest and most impressive estates, Farleigh House. The lodge itself was built between 1806 and 1813, although the history of Farleigh goes back well over a thousand years to the year 987 AD, when King Ethelred (of ‘Unready’ fame) was on the throne. The first reference to the Farleigh estate was in the Doomsday Book, although at that time the land was known as Ferlege, later called Fernleah and then eventually Farleigh by around the 12th century.
Originally owned by the Montfort family, a French noble family who were descended from the Countess of Montfort, dowager queen of Scotland, the Farleigh estate changed hands in 1337, becoming owned by Sir Thomas Hungerford, Speaker of the House of Commons in 1370. For almost a hundred years the Farleigh Estate enjoyed peace, but this was soon to be shattered when the War of the Roses took hold. The Hungerfords were divided, with two members of the family backing what was deemed to be the wrong side, for which they were beheaded.
The Farleigh estate was taken from the Hungerford family and given instead to the Duke of Clarence. The primary record of George, Duke of Clarence was in fact written by William Shakespeare in ‘Richard III’, and whilst unproven it is taken to be fact that he met his end by drowning in a butt (cask of around 480 litres) of malmsey wine. Well, perhaps there are worst ways to go!
In fact his daughter also came to a sudden end, but not quite in such a ‘pleasant’ way. She was accused of treason in 1541, and was sentenced to execution by beheading. However, she refused to lay her head on the block as an act of protect at her perceived innocence, which resulted in the executioner having to follow her around the scaffold for some time chopping randomly at her neck until eventually her head fell off. I certainly know which end I’d have preferred out of the two of them!
Fortunately after that period of history Farleigh House remained a fairly peaceful place until in 1806 it fell into the hands of a Lt. Colonel John Houlton who had a particular fascination with the Gothic revival movement. He lavished what would in today’s money be well over a million pounds on extensive improvements, amongst which was the construction of six lodges, the chief one of which was known as Castle Lodge, and later still Bath Lodge Castle.
So if you’re looking for historic houses to hire for a special occasion then the history of this country estate is certain to provide a fascinating atmosphere. For history enthusiasts, fans of large and impressive country estates and castles, or even a budding Duke or Duchess, this castle definitely has a great deal to offer. Just make sure you don’t leave the lid of your butt of malmsey wine though!