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REVIEW: THE CASTLE AT EDGEHILL

A Cotswolds Castle with its own Pub, Award-winning Food, Extraordinary Views, History and a Discerning Ghost


We challenge you to find a more quintessentially English stay than a castle containing its own pub, award-winning restaurant, five tower bedrooms, gin school and astonishing, rolling countryside views across the site of the first major English Civil War battle.


This is what we discover as we make the ascent to the summit of Edge Hill, one of the most northerly points of The Cotswolds, where the the Medieval fortress proudly sits like a particularly fine cherry on top of a cake. 


Technically a folly, The Castle at Edgehill was built from local ironstone in 1742 to mark the centenary of the Battle of Edgehill.



As we leave the car, our eyes don’t know whether to gawp at the magnificent castle, or the views across the patchwork quilt of Oxfordshire and Warwickshire countryside, studded with the occasional castle or grand, honey-stoned building.


The fire is crackling when we head inside the Banbury pub's cosy warren, brimming with character and original, 18th century features, from gothic arched windows and recesses, to flagstone floors and cast iron chandeliers. It’s buzzing with dogs, families and couples enjoying food and award-winning, Cotswold-brewed Hook Norton ales.



It’s a crisp and blue skied winter’s day, so we take our Rioja and Espresso Martini outside to the Victorian landscaped beer gardens, where our children run around, playing kings and queens of the castle, while we sip our drinks where King Charles I had once stood to watch the battle, which paved the way for this castle to be built, 100 years later. I am much more comfortable on this side of history.



The children are particularly excited about staying in a castle, so the friendly staff lead us up the winding tower staircase to the Cromwell Suite - although this vast and luxurious warren is more like an apartment. The sun-drenched lounge has high beamed ceilings, a fireplace, gothic windows, blue velvet Chesterfields and a sofa which has been turned into a soft, double bed for the children.


Down the corridor, we find our bedroom; a large, airy space, tastefully decorated in royal blue and cream, with gold accents and gorgeous views from the cushioned window seats of the salmon sun, dipping beneath the green and honey views. This leads to a roomy bathroom, with another, sexy arched window. 



The castle has five, en suite bedrooms, all named after key figures in the Battle at Edgehill and spread between its two towers, Rupert and Kings, which are connected via a pretty nifty, wooden drawbridge. 


It’s pleasing to take a few, lazy steps from our room, back downstairs to the restaurant, where we are shown to our table in The Glasshouse dining area. It’s a cosy space, hugged by honey stone walls, with dramatic, floor-to-ceiling panoramic views across Warwickshire and the famous battlefield.



If there is truffle on the menu, I will sniff it out like the pig I am, so I start with the wild mushroom and truffle risotto. It is bold, creamy and gooey, with the meaty and nutty mushrooms taking centre stage and a pleasing, salty crunch from the crispy vegetables and kale which topped it.



I  could have happily eaten it from a large bucket with a spade. Thankfully I didn’t, as my second course is the rich and very generous beef medallions dish, with creamy garlic mushroom, green asparagus and fried quail egg. The medallions are wonderfully tender and the creamy garlic adds delicious depth to the meat.



 "Look at me, eating quail eggs in a castle. Am I a king?" I think, before my son reminds me who really wears the crown, as he orders my peasant self to wipe his nose. 


My partner grudgingly lets me try his 36-hour cooked pork belly, which might be the best I have tried - a juicy slice of meaty heaven, encased in crunchy, gooey crackling and served with sweet potato mash, parsnip puree, roast apple and kale.



Meanwhile, the children are briefly silenced by their tomato pasta and fish and chips - I sneak a sample, while my son is distracted by his reflection in a spoon, and it is a lovely, lightly beer-battered haddock.


We eye up some of the beautifully presented desserts our fellow diners are diving into: Walnut and dark chocolate cremeux; chocolate fondant, cherry puree and black cherry ice cream or hot apple and berry pie, caramel sauce with apple ice cream.



But devastatingly, the only ones with space for desserts are the children, who devour their locally milked and produced, Ridgeway Ice Creams.


There are three dining areas in the castle; the relaxed, wood-panelled Library, the main Dining Room around the roaring fire and The Glassroom; our favourite spot, which we return to the following morning for breakfast. 



We are rewarded by morning views from that vast wall of glass - golden sun creeping up over pea-green hills, with sleepy sheep in the distance and extraordinary, painterly views, which stretch all the way to Birmingham’s skyline. 


The waitress is funny, jolly and brilliant with children - when our son insists on a questionable order of pancakes with sausages, she serves him just that, and it turns out it’s a winning combo for a three-year-old. 



My partner and I opt for the Full English, which is perfection - properly crisped, excellent quality rashers, chunky, crumbly black pudding, rich, orange yolks, tomato, mushrooms, toast and a kind-hearted consideration for the need to prevent bean juice from bothering other items, by serving it in tiny saucepans.


Meanwhile, our daughter’s highlight of the year is her pancakes, dusted in icing sugar and served with blueberries and pots of Nutella and berry compote. I can’t report on what this is like, because I am not allowed within a fork’s distance of it.



As we leave, we notice a sign on the wall, informing guests that the castle even has its own, friendly ghost. Luckily, nobody can fear a haunting from a spirit called Edna - I imagine her, clutching her blue-rinsed head beneath her arm, peering over purple, diamante specs, and shouting: “Boo, possums!”


And who can really blame her for wanting to loiter in this deliciously inviting castle for eternity?



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