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Eastnor Castle, the stunning 19 th century fairytale castle near Ledbury in Herefordshire, is fixing a Birthday Surprise for a local man from Hereford. This has been arranged by his wife who wrote to the owner, Mr James Hervey-Bathurst to ask if it would be possible for her husband to wear a suit of Armour on his special day. 

Mr Howland is a keen historian and passionate about armour! “Making this happen for him would be a dream come true and a treasured memory” says his wife “and I cannot wait to see his face when we drive up to Eastnor Castle where he will be met with his birthday surprise on Wednesday 13 th July! 

The Castle contains 50 suits of armour and is one of the largest and finest privately-owned collections in Britain. Charles, the 3rd Earl Somers who collected the armour in the nineteenth century was susceptible to what he jokingly called ‘armouritis’, a nasty and possible incurable disease that gave him an obsession for armour. 

In the 1870s he bought half of the famous Meyrick Collection of medieval armour from Goodrich Court, near Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire. Most of the collection is French and German and he rightly judged it appropriate to adorn the walls of his castle with armour to complement its architecture and decoration. 

If you too are mad about armour, there will be a special interest day on Sunday 31 July at Eastnor Castle on Arms and Armour. David Edge, Head of Conservation for Arms and Armour at The Wallace Collection, will be offering fascinating talks and tours throughout the day. 

Norton Armoury, run by David Cubbage, is also based on the Eastnor estate in one of the converted farm buildings in the village and makes modern replica armour for collectors and film productions. Recent work includes armour for Gladiator, Alexander and Troy.