Tucked away in the heart of the Devon countryside, just 15 minutes from the M5, with Tiverton Railway Station and Bristol and Exeter airports both within easy reach, Bickleigh Castle is accessible from many areas of the South West.
The castle snuggles itself in the Exe Valley, surrounded by trees, fields and the Exe River. It sits below an original motte-and-bailey at the back of the castle (a motte-and-bailey castle is a 10th century fortification with a wooden or stone keep, situated on a raised earthwork called a motte, accompanied by an enclosed courtyard, or bailey, surrounded by a protective ditch and palisade), which is where the castle is now located.
We all like a good 'house party', but there is nothing quite like one in an historic castle. It's not like being at a hotel; at Bickleigh your house party is an exclusive event - you have the whole place to yourselves. You host only your group of friends and family in this private venue; the experience is that of staying at an estate, where staff prepare and serve your meals and look after your every need for the duration of your stay. The castle can sleep up to 39 people in 18 bedrooms.
The estate contains a wonderful and ancient Saxon chapel, dating back to the 6th century. Whilst this is normally used to hold castle weddings, it is a great space for an evensong or carols, or other services, especially if you are holding a retreat. It has its own lawns and the space can be used as a back-drop for almost any activity, just on the edge of the river.
With several receptions rooms at your disposal in the castle and adjoining buildings, you can have a drinks party, or musical soirée, up in the Medieval Great Hall, with a roaring log fire and (near Christmas) a magnificent tree, or perhaps a formal dinner in the banqueting room. The castle has also hosted an amazing Medieval banquet on long tables, just like they did centuries ago.
There is just one bedroom in the castle itself, a Tudor 4 poster room with private bathroom, however the charm of Bickleigh Castle can be found in the accommodation in the traditional, pretty thatched cottages overlooking the courtyard. In the summer this is just idyllic.
If it is action you like, you can enjoy a variety of activities to suit your taste – the castle has hosted `zorbing´ in the grounds, treasure hunts, cycling events, tennis (hard court at the back of the castle), shooting, croquet, tug-of-war, horse- riding, falconry, balloon rides, kayaking and country walks. Fly fishing is popular on the castle's stretch of river, which is home to trout, grayling and sometimes migratory salmon.
Other things to do:
Powderham Castle – home of the Earl of Devon – 15 miles
For locals and visitors to Devon, it is a ‘must see’ with its many attractions – a wonderful family day out!
Exmoor National Park – 10 miles
Containing an amazing variety of landscapes within its 267 square miles. A unique landscape of moorland, woodland, valleys and farmland, shaped by people and nature over thousands of years. Where high cliffs plunge into the Bristol Channel, and cosy pubs and tearooms offer delicious local produce.
Dartmoor National Park – 15 miles
From rare birds and butterflies, Neolithic monuments and ancient woodland, to tradition, folklore and farming on horseback, Dartmoor has it all. Leading the way for the arts, all things organic, a haven for literary greats and explorers, you will be walking in some awesome footsteps.
Tiverton Castle – home of the Gordon family – 4 miles
Originally built in 1106 by order of Henry I and later rebuilt and much enlarged in the 13th and 14th centuries, it was once home of the powerful Medieval Earls of Devon and of a Plantagenet Princess. With later additions and alterations down the centuries, all periods of architecture from Medieval to modern can be seen, with beautiful walled gardens within the romantic ruins.