It is sixty years ago since first I visited Cholmondeley Castle. Coronation year. My Uncle Arthur had landed a dream job – butler to the Earl of Rocksavage (later to succeed to the title Marquess of Cholmondeley) – and with it went a magnificent flat in the Castle itself. My auntie, uncle and cousin moved in early in 1953 and soon my sister and I went to stay there for the first of some very memorable holidays.
A couple of weeks ago I went back with Margaret, my wife, and for me it was a truly special occasion. Of course, I cannot take her round the flat because the Castle is not open to the public, but we were free to roam in the park and the gardens. We timed our visit perfectly – the azaleas and rhododendrons were in magnificent bloom and latogether the place was looking more splendid than I had seen ever seen it before. All credit to Lady Lavinia, Dowager Marchioness of Cholmondeley whose vision it was to restore and extend the gardens and open it all to the public. And I have to say how grateful I am to her late husband for employing my uncle as his butler. Without that I would never have known this super place.
That’s the main thread of my personal Cholmondeley story: came here as a kid in 1953, loved it and have done ever since. There’s another thread woven in with this one but it will have to wait until another time.
On our way to the Castle we stopped at Bickley Church. I wanted to spend a little time in quiet reflection beside the grave of my Auntie Betty and Uncle Arthur. Two very special people.
And that's the churchyard cat who is always there to welcome visitors.