I have just returned from walking with my dog Spike in Caludon Park. Whilst there I used my height advantage to gather some of the few remaining damsons from the trees within the moated area where the ruined castle wall stands. In times gone by the estate fed the occupants (both estate workers and aristocrats) with locally produced fruit, fish, fowl and venison. Ancillary buildings included a home farm, granaries, a brew house and mill.
Tomorrow I shall be offering a guided walk in the park covering some of the history of the estate. My biggest problem with this walk is deciding just what to leave out as a walk / talk of just over an hour could only cover a small fraction of the site's background. One of the main sources for the subject matter of my walk is John Edward Clarke OBE's "A History of Caludon Castle - The Lords of the Manor Of Caludon". This really is a fascinating book reflecting the years of dedication and research that John and his team put into it. He has had a coat of arms drawn up which includes the motto "Caludon Meus Instinctus" - Caludon My Inspiration. The spirit of that "inspiration" flows through the book which includes many contemporary sources and documents from the medieval and Tudor periods (and beyond) to give a feel of how life must have been on the estate. It has led me personally to pursue links to writers, musicians and histories that I would have otherwise been unaware of and I would thoroughly recommend it. Particularly interesting are the chapters outlining the Berkeley family's time at Caludon - combining links with Shakespeare, Tudor royalty and the legend of St George with the everyday running of the estate.
I had picked up that Lord Henry Berkeley liked to try his luck at card and dice games and feel pretty confident that he would have had at least the occasional wager at the game of "tables" - now widely known as backgammon. I am a keen player myself and have been looking for historic references to the game in Coventry going back as far as medieval times. I have managed to find one and I shall be revealing it to members of Coventry Backgammon Club when we meet to play at Coventry & North Warwickshire Sports Club on Thursday evening. All are welcome so please come along if you would like to try your hand at this ancient game.
Whilst playing at the UK Open Backgammon Championships just over a week ago I took some time out to speak to Derek Winterbottom. Derek is an Isle of Man resident and an established published historian with degrees from both Oxford and York Universities. As a fellow backgammon player he attended the UK Open which was held at Coombe Abbey in 2017. He was taken by his surroundings and inspired to write "Coombe Abbey - A History through Ten Centuries" another well researched and information packed book which is available through the shop in the Visitors Centre at Coombe.
Coombe is another of Spike's regular haunts and the park and grounds (the work of Capability Brown) are well worth a visit. However - like a stroll around Caludon - the visit could be greatly enhanced with a break on a bench spent with a picnic and good book learning a bit of the history of the site before rambling on .........