Berkeley

Gazette Series: Berkeley Castle Berkeley Castle

Berkeley is largely dominated by the 840 year-old castle around which the existing town has developed.

Berkeley Castle has been transformed from a savage Norman fortress into a grand stately home and is particularly noted in history as being the scene of the murder of Edward II on 21st September 1327. Located off the A38 between Bristol and Slimbridge, the fortress was completed at the command of Henry II in 1153 by Maurice Berkeley, whose family have been occupants of the castle ever since.

Whilst Berkeley is not a tourist town in the same way as those in the central Cotswolds it is nevertheless a busy thriving area which benefits from the increased numbers of tourists generated by the Castle.

The town has several convenience stores, a couple of public houses and coaching inns, antique shops and a County Library.

Aside from the Castle, Berkeley is also home to the Jenner Museum which is located in Church Lane. Edward Jenner who was a country house doctor in the area during the late18th and early 19th centuries discovered a vaccine made from cowpox which was used in the fight against smallpox. It has now been developed into one of the most important parts of modern medicine, Immunology.

A monument to his memory can be found at the Chantry in Berkeley, which was reputedly Jenner's favourite house. Restored and refurbished it is now a museum and conference centre, and is open daily April to September (except Mondays) but including Bank Holiday Mondays.

In addition to the Castle and Butterfly Farm, there are many attractions to visit close by. Just over four miles away is the secluded wooded valley of Lydney Park Gardens with its carpet of daffodils, primroses and bluebells. Owlpen Manor is probably one of the most romantic small manor houses in the west of England, whilst Woodchester Mansion is an unfinished masterpiece of Victorian Building.

As with other small towns in the area, Berkeley benefits from its close links to Bristol and Bath and its proximity to the M4 and M5 motorways giving easy access to the west and north of the country.

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