IN more than 160 acres of woods, farmland and gardens mainly laid out in the 17th century by the ancestors of the current family in residence, Huntington Castle and Gardens has a story to tell, inside and out.
French lime trees line the main avenue up from the village of Clonegal in County Carlow Ireland. There are formal lawns to one side of the castle as well as fish ponds and the spectacular yew tree walk along with a refurbished tea room, guided castle tours, woodland walks and rose gardens and an adventure playground for children.
Lawns are laid out near the castle’s conservatory, a later addition that contains a vine gifted by Anne Boleyn to Cardinal Wolsey and within the grounds are champion and rare trees including a giant fir, the tallest tree in County Carlow along with rare poplar, yew and champion cypress and hemlock trees. The gardens and castle are spectacular and it can be easy to forget that at the back of it is a family home kept by Alexander Durdin Robertson and his wife Clare along with their three young sons Herbert, Esmonde and Freddie, directly descended from the Esmonde family who first constructed the Jacobean gem.
“There are very few places left that are still maintained as a family home,” said Alexander Durdin Robertson about his ancestral home. “(Guests) can be here and (the family) can walk in with the dogs following or a few kids can be running across the yard. That is what makes us authentic and there are very few places left like that.”
While the castle, built on the much older site of a former abbey is filled with twists and turns including arrow slit windows that open onto newer construction behind, and antiquities such as a medieval armour collection and the headquarters of the Temple of the Goddess, this particular family home that happens to have been there since 1625 is quite the rare Jacobean gem that just happens to host weddings and offer accommodation.
“The kind of venue we are, we are not a mass market venue,” said Alexander Durdin Robertson. “We are an original experience. You have the paintings, the original history. People find it interesting to see the house, how the family lives and how we make it work.
“It’s not Downton Abbey,” he added, “Sitting in the study while reading the paper. It is authentic, not build 20 years ago.”
When Pynck.com first spoke with Huntington Castle’s scion he just happened to be in the middle of a flock of sheep, some of the 600 or so on the property. Their bleats punctuated the start of what led to a memorable visit to a rare Jacobean gem.
Huntington Castle and Gardens is open until the end of September to visitors while accommodation can be booked online at https://huntingtoncastle.com.
Tags: Arts & Culture Travel Staycations
Image credits: Kim Mullahey, Huntington Castle