On Saturday 26th March 2016 I found myself near the town of Grantham in Leicestershire for the Belvoir Castle wedding of Farah and Taimur. Belvoir Castle is the ancestral home of the Dukes of Rutland. The family have lived at Belvoir in an unbroken line for almost a thousand years.
It was a rather a windy day, I almost lost my notes in the car park after a strong gust of wind sent them twisting in the air. After chasing these papers down, I caught up with Farah for the bridal preparations in the The Kings Rooms, a suite of three rooms, originally for the exclusive use of The Prince Regent, but have seen guests such as Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
The legal marriage ceremony took place in the Guard Room, entered through the pre-guard room which is lined with 18th Century Brown Bess Flintlock Muskets. Once married the couple were allowed a few minutes in the normally closed the Elizabeth Saloon, extravagantly decorated in the style of Louis XIV in memory of the 5th Duke’s late wife, before re-joining their guests in the art gallery for drinks.
Following the reception was a traditional Persian or Iranian wedding ceremony, which featured an elaborately bedecked wedding table or Sofreyeh Aghd. This led into the wedding breakfast, speeches and first dance .
Originally the estate was a gift from William the Conqueror to one of his Norman barons – Robert de Todeni who fought for him as his Standard Bearer at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The first castle which was begun in 1067, was constructed primarily to defend its Norman owners from attack, and so took full advantage of its defensive position high up on the ridge. By 1464 the Wars of the Roses had taken their toll on the building and it was more or less in ruins. Some 60 years later it rose again, but as a nobler structure with a central courtyard, parts of which can still be recognised today. But in 1649 that too was destroyed, by Parliamentarians after Royalists had seized it during the Civil War. Its third incarnation, began in 1654 was designed as a large family home with no connotations of defence or war.
The castle you see today finally emerged in the early 1800s and was built for the 5th Duke and Duchess of Rutland between 1801 and 1832 by architect James Wyatt.
The castles was give the French name Belvoir – meaning beautiful view – now pronounced ‘beaver’ remains as one of the most magnificent and beautiful Regency houses in England.