For the greater part of nine centuries the Berkeley family have lived in Berkeley Castle. Few great houses anywhere in Europe have been inhabited by the same family for as long a period of time. The oldest building in the country to be inhabited by the same family who built it, its place in history is significant, not just because it is still intact, but because for centuries the Berkeley family and their home have played important roles in key events; English history has been lived out within these walls and by this family. The Berkeley family are the only English family still in existence in England that can trace its male ancestors, that is, from father to son, back to Saxon times. As part of a series of unique in-depth private visits to British Great Houses, Inscape has arranged with the Berkeley family a bespoke visit to Berkeley Castle. Hosted by Charles Berkeley, the present owner, and his staff – David Smith, the Castle Archivist, Joshua Nash, the Castle Custodian and Chris Gill, the head gardener- this promises to be another up close experience of the challenges and achievement of curating and preserving these testaments to English history.

We compare the grandeur of Berkeley Castle to the intimacy of Gatcombe Court, to which we have also arranged a private visit. Gatcombe has been lived in since the 13c when John de Gatcombe built the original solar before 1254, using the stone from the Roman settlement upon which the house is built. As Simon Jenkins says of Gatcombe in his book Thousand Best Houses ‘nothing is regular, nothing the same period, yet everything is pleasing.’

Berkeley town itself goes back in time as far as the Castle, and evidence suggests that there was once a large Saxon settlement and possibly, a Roman Temple there. It is full of distinguished buildings, including the house of Edward Jenner, who in 1796 carried out his famous experiment injecting the arm of eight-year-old James Phipps with cowpox; this was the world’s first vaccine.

COST £1095 Members, £1145 non-Members, £195 single room supplement, £250 deposit, includes two nights accommodation with breakfast, two lunches with wine, two dinners with wine, tea, tours by Charles Berkeley and Berkeley castle curators, private visit and lunch at Gatcombe Court, all travel during the tour, VAT, tips and service. Excludes travel to and from Bristol Temple Meads, includes travel to Ledbury for Hellens Much Marcle tour.