Explore the history of harvest at Berkeley Castle this September

Gazette Series: Charles Berkeley and Eleanor Taylor with a harvest display at Berkeley Castle Charles Berkeley and Eleanor Taylor with a harvest display at Berkeley Castle

HARVEST has come to Berkeley Castle, which has been decked out with agricultural displays befitting the site’s rich history.

Staff and volunteers have attempted to showcase the best of summer's blooms and produce before autumn sets in for the inaugural Festival of Harvest.

House manager Eleanor Taylor said: "The castle has been filled with displays of what is harvested."

This ranges from grapes for wine, flax and quinces through to fish caught from the River Severn and wool being spun, woven and dyed.

It’s a new angle on the castle’s past, in which agriculture and harvest played an important role.  

Anecdotes abound for each type of harvest.

"Bees were kept at Ham," explained Ms Taylor. "Honey was very important to the medieval diet for sweetness."

Dairy features too, with an appropriate placement in the Jenner pantry alongside a portrait of the famous physician.

Milkchurns and a milkstool sit alongside a picture of Blossom, the cow who inspired the birth of the vaccine.

When ‘harvesting’ milk, milkmaids caught cowpox on their hands from the cow’s udders. This inspired Edward Jenner to work on the cowpox and smallpox vaccines which changed the face of modern medicine.

Children can track down a host of felt animals around the castle by following the animal trail with two different harvest quizzes.

The cell in which Edward I was infamously murdered is currently playing host to a bat, a hedgehog can be found in the tower room and tiny felt mice run wild in the housekeeper’s room and up a clock in the long drawing room.

The festival can be viewed at the castle Sunday – Wednesday until Monday, September 30.

For more information visit www.berkeley-castle.com.

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