Rockingham Castle & Knights in Shining Armor

As we were driving to Gilly and Yevgeni’s house in the countryside north of London, we came upon a sign for Rockingham Castle. Not only that but it was a sign saying that there would be jousting there that weekend!

The funny thing was, Gilly and Yevegeni had already been planning on taking us to it! Perfect! I was really excited as I love historical recreations and I thought that Z would get a real kick out of seeing a castle, and “real” knights jousting on horseback. Plus it was my first time at a real castle in England!

As we arrived at Rockingham Castle, I was impressed with the well-organized parking area and ticketing process. In no time at all we were at the ticket booth, the prices for the event and the walking tour of the castle were £10.50 per adult and Zoë was free (children are £7.50, but I am not sure at what age that starts).

We entered the grounds and walked towards the castle. The jousting didn’t start for a couple of hours so we decided to check out the castle and its gardens first. On the way to the gardens was a “Medieval Living History Village” which consisted of a couple of rows of tents with people acting out their parts as archers, cooks, wood workers, and many other trades. The “villagers” seemed very authentic and appeared to really know what they were talking about. At one point we stopped and listened to a soldier talk about the strategy in battle with hand to hand combat. I never realized that there were so many ways to get around a spear. It was all very fascinating, and the “villagers” were enjoying themselves. Many of them even had their children and pets with them, playing their parts as well. It reminded me of Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts, but much smaller. Still, it made me feel like I was in medieval times.

One of the "villagers"  explaining how he makes his wares.
One of the “villagers” explaining how he makes his wares.
Zoë checking out the shops wares.
Zoë always can find toys for sale… she has some sort of homing beacon that leads her right to them.

After we had walked through the village, we came upon the pristine gardens, which I unfortunately did not take any photos of! I know I can’t believe it either! D’oh!  It was filled with flowers and the most perfectly cut lawn I had ever seen.

Anyways we walked through the garden (there was also a wild garden, but we didn’t make it to that one)  and came to a downhill path. The view from there was amazing. Seeing the patchwork landscape of farms fenced with hedges and flocks of sheep meandering through grassy pastures looked so quintessentially English to me. I almost couldn’t look away. We all stood there for a time and took in the sight, even Zoë was impressed with it and sat still looking at it as well.

Walking through the garden to the overlook area and the castle.
Walking through the garden to the overlook area and the castle.
What a view! It was breathtaking!
The breathtaking view!

We finally had to pull ourselves away from the overlook and turned around and there was the castle! The Rockingham Castle was originally built by William the Conqueror in the 11th century and has been upgraded in many ways over time. It was gifted by Henry VIII to Edward Watson, the ancestor of the current owner James Saunders Watson. I was blown away at the craft and quality of the construction of the castle. I doubt if a house built in the present day would last 100 years, let alone many centuries.

Rockingham Castle.
Rockingham Castle. That is a tiny Zoë running towards it,
No Cameras!!! NOOOOOO!
No Cameras!!! NOOOOOO!

We walked to the entrance of the castle walking tour and saw that no phones, cameras, or video were allowed. I was pretty disappointed but stuck by the rules and didn’t take pictures of the giant kitchen (with a room that acted as a refrigerator), or the massive wooden doors that were built in the 13th century, or the many painting and portraits that adorned the walls.  The only time I broke the rules was for the photo below… I just had to!

The volunteer at the castle let Z try on an authentic helmet from the 1800's (I think?). It was really heavy, I am surprised she could hold her head up.
The volunteer at the castle let Z try on an authentic knights helmet. It was really heavy, I am surprised she could hold her head up.

After we walked through the castle and passed quickly through the little gift shop at the end of the tour, we headed outside to the storyteller. There was a gentleman that was telling stories about the history of the castle to children (and their parents too). The stories were fascinating and he was really good at making the kids laugh and participate. Zoë didn’t want to leave, but we were running late for the jousting by that time so we had to move on.


The storyteller was great! He had the kids (and their parents) laughing and completely enthralled.
The storyteller was great! He had the kids (and their parents) laughing and completely enthralled.

We walked quickly back to the jousting area and saw that they were having some sort of activity with older kids, they were teaching them how to march into battle, and yell the battle cry. We took the opportunity to get an ice cream from the ice cream truck there. I know, it’s not very medieval, but hey, I can’t pass up a good sweet snack. And it was DELICIOUS!  They were called Mr. Whippy’s and were whipped soft serve ice cream on sugar cones with a Cadbury Flake in them. It was so whipped that it tasted like whipped cream (YUM!!!). I wanted to eat 10 of them. But I digress…

We made our way back to the jousting arena and sat down just in time as it was officially starting. The MC was introducing the knights that would be jousting. There were the good knights and the black knights and each side had 4 knights. The rules were given (although I couldn’t hear them) and then the knights went around the arena asking for favors from the ladies, and women threw them their scarves so the knights could wrap them around their jousting poles. My mind wandered off for a bit after that wondering how the ladies would get their scarves back.. some of the scarves looked really nice.. hmmmm. Anyways, when my mind returned the jousting was starting and the knights were very good at making it look authentic. They fought hand to hand first with a mace and shield and then got on horseback for the jousting. It was really fun to watch.

The Knights paraded through the camp before the show.
The Knights parading through the camp before the show.
One of the knights.
One of the good knights.
One of the black Knights.
One of the black knights.

All of us had a fantastic time at Rockingham Castle.  I left feeling like I had stepped back in time for a day. For a history buff such as myself, it was the best kind of day… experiencing history in real life.

Have you ever been to a jousting event? What did you think?

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  16 comments for “Rockingham Castle & Knights in Shining Armor

  1. Bronwyn Joy @ Journeys Of The Fabulist
    June 27, 2014 at 11:39 pm

    Can’t believe they made you holster your camera! (Except that one shot… that’s pretty cool.) (But not as cool as jousting.)

    • andthreetogo
      June 28, 2014 at 7:47 am

      I know! Such a bummer!

      • Bronwyn Joy @ Journeys Of The Fabulist
        June 28, 2014 at 10:08 am

        I’m wondering what the reason for it is? With art works its often because they don’t want the works damaged, but not sure how that applies to the building. Is it to boost postcard sales? Because they know people don’t send postcards any more, right?

        • andthreetogo
          June 28, 2014 at 11:57 am

          I didn’t notice that they were selling postcards of the inside… You could take pictures of the outside but not on the walking tour inside, it was pretty crowded so maybe it’s a way to keep people moving?

          • Bronwyn Joy @ Journeys Of The Fabulist
            June 28, 2014 at 11:59 am

            Perhaps that’s it. It’s just it seems like a lot of people would want to take photos, so surely they need a pretty good reason to say no. But I can see that keeping people moving would be much easier without all the cameras.

  2. joylovestravel
    June 27, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    We’ve seen jousting at a couple of places – one of the best was at Warwick Castle. Never been here though but it sounds great – interesting history and plenty for kids to do as well. Will definitely be putting on “the list” !

    • andthreetogo
      June 28, 2014 at 7:48 am

      Next time we will has to check out Warwick castle. Z and I got pretty sick for the rest of our time in Bedford so we couldn’t see any more castles in the area. I was bummed. Next time I guess 🙂

  3. The Vanilla Housewife
    June 27, 2014 at 11:50 pm

    Great photos! I’ve never been to one but it looks like a great experience for kids. and adults lol. The castle looks so grand from afar!

    • andthreetogo
      June 28, 2014 at 7:49 am

      Doesn’t it! It looked even more grand inside… That darn no camera rule. 🙁

  4. Cyndie Tobin
    June 28, 2014 at 1:47 am

    Been to a couple of Renaissance Fairs here in So Cal and in No Cal and they were very authentic. Bang, boom, ugggghhh, could be dangerous if they were not well practiced. It was exciting, very manly, with manly men and courageous horses. Glad you saw it there. Seems more real.

    • andthreetogo
      June 28, 2014 at 7:51 am

      I kept comparing it to the renaissance fair actually. It was similar, no beer though so much less “happy” haha.

  5. thehomeschoolingdoctor
    June 28, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    Wow! Made me want to be there! Really great photos, and I enjoyed the slide show at the end. Never been to a jousting re-enactment, but in South Carolina we went to a Revolutionary War re-enactment. Sorry you got sick the rest of the time there! At least this day looked extraordinary!

    • andthreetogo
      June 28, 2014 at 8:30 pm

      Oh I would love to go to a revolutionary war re-enactment! I went to Gettysburg and saw a re-enactment there when I was a kid and loved it!

  6. Elle
    June 29, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    It looks like a really fun day out.

    • andthreetogo
      June 30, 2014 at 9:24 am

      It was!

  7. Pingback: The Free and Fun Things To Do In London with Kids | And Three To Go

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