Nostalgia returns to Eastnor Castle, near Ledbury for the May Bank Holiday, on Sunday 24th and Bank Holiday Monday 25th May with a Vintage Day of family fun.

An interesting line-up of working Steam-Engines will be on display in the courtyard in front of the castle, with a 100th birthday celebration for our Ransomes Sims & Jefferies agricultural engine and we will mark 40 years at Eastnor for our Foden tractor.  Alongside will be a vintage carousel and chair swing, punch & judy, tea tent, garden games and live music.

James Hervey-Bathurst, Owner of Eastnor Castle said ” Our Ransomes is a very popular and solid half of the family tug of war, but it will also be running a threshing machine as it was designed to do in 1915.  It is one of the few traction engines that has not been repainted since it’s preservation, and so it has a very authentic look.  Other vintage vehicles, including a Stanley steam car, will be on display, and our showman’s living van will also be open to visitors.  We look forward to a fun event”.

The usual castle attractions will also be open, including the new Land Rover Little Off Roaders and Rota Swing, Knight’s Maze, Burma Bridge Tree Top Walkway and Adventure Playground, Tearoom, Gift shop and Ice Cream Parlour.

Vintage Family Fun will be open from 11 am to 5.30 pm on both days and please click here to buy discounted tickets on-line.

Official opening by Elizabeth Hurley on Sunday at 12 noon in the Castle Courtyard

Now in it’s 4th year, the Chilli Festival at Eastnor Castle is back on Sunday 3rd and Bank Holiday Monday 4th May.  This year, there will be over 50 stalls and entertainment, showcasing all things HOT!

The castle courtyard will be transformed into a Chilli Market and visitors will be able to try and buy delicious products such as chocolate, bread, cake, vodka, cocktails and chutney as well as grow-your-own chilli plants.  There will also be a number of specialist hot food suppliers selling authentic Asian curries and other spicy foods.

Sarah Littlewood, Event Co-ordinator at the Castle (pictured) said:

“This year we are delighted to have local resident, actress and model Elizabeth Hurley opening our event on Sunday morning at 12pm.

One of our big Chillies has just arrived from an off-road journey across the Eastnor Estate into the castle courtyard and is hotting up for the big event.  We are really thrilled with the success of our Chilli Festival as it has gained a huge following“.

There is a huge amount going on over the weekend with something for all chilli fans.  Back by popular demand is the Clifton Chilli Club with their chilli shenanigans which includes our legendary chilli eating competition.  Join local chefs Felice Tocchini, Rayeesa, Tom Court, Rob Swift and vegetarian specialist Lizzy in the cookery demonstrations marquee and children can join in Easy Peasy cookery school.

To create a real carnival atmosphere, there will be live musical entertainment from local Mexican band – Los Squideros from Hereford, joining them will be Andalus an authentic Gypsy Kings sounding band to entertain the crowds.

Plus all our usual attractions including the maze, new swing and Land Rover Little Off Roaders.

For further information and book discounted tickets click here.

The much-loved family treasure hunt here at Eastnor Castle, will be taking place over the Easter weekend every day from Good Friday 3rd April to Bank Holiday Monday 6th April between 11am and 5.30pm.

This years hunt is about work EGGsperience, the Easter chickens and bunnies will be dressed in their work wear and you will need to guess their chosen career!

The castle General Manager David Littlewood says “This is our favourite weekend of the year where local families come to Eastnor Castle to enjoy the annual treasure hunt and this year it’s all about our Easter Chickens and bunnies hard at work!  We have lots of new and fun events planned for this summer as well as some new attractions including audio tours, a new swing and our Land Rover Little Off-Roaders.  As part of our on-going relationship with Land Rover Experience, they have supplied us with 4 Little Off-Roaders and we have built them their own off-road track within the grounds.  We hope this will be very popular with the children where they can practice their driving skills around a fun track”.


Ollie Lancett from Eastnor (pictured)  in the Land Rover Off-Roader with an Easter Chicken as passenger ready for Easter opening!

Every child taking part in the EGGsperience Easter Hunt will win a chocolate treat and there will be a draw at the end of each day when one lucky family will win a giant chocolate egg in a basket!  In addition, the Knight’s maze, Burma Bridge tree top walkway, junior assault course, mini zip wire, castle shop and tearoom will also be open throughout the weekend.

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Illyria’s outdoor theatre returns to Eastnor Castle on Sunday 10th August with yet another Roald Dahl classic ‘George’s Marvellous Medicine’.  Following their enormous success and sell-out tour, Illyria return with a show full of larger-than-life characters, plenty to join in with and just a twist of malicious fun!

It is the first day of half-term, Grandma is coming to stay, and George is going to have to give   

up his bedroom for her.  It wouldn’t be so bad if Grandma were a nice Grandma.  But George’s Grandma is horrible.  “George do this!  George do that!”  “George, is it time for my medicine?”  What’s the point of taking medicine, George wonders, when it’s not doing her any good, and it certainly isn’t making her any nicer?  So he decides to concoct his own medicine for Grandma which he gives Grandma on a spoon – with hilarious results!  The performance is guaranteed to send you through the roof!

The performance will be on the lower terrace overlooking the lake at 3 pm, gates open at 2 pm.  Approximately 1hr 35mins (including a 20 mins interval).  Please bring your own seating/rug, warm clothes and a picnic.  Soft drinks and ice cream will be available.

Please click here to book tickets.

The much loved CBeebies character ‘Tree Fu Tom’ will be taking a break from his adventures in Treetopolis to come to Eastnor Castle on Sunday 29th June.

Come along and meet and greet ‘Tree Fu Tom’ who will be making personal appearances at intervals throughout the day in the castle courtyard.  Bring your cameras for a photo opportunity with your little ones.

“This should be a really exciting day for any young Tree Fu Tom fans as they will get to see this magical superhero in person in the castle courtyard” said David Littlewood, General Manager.

All the usual castle attractions will be open, including the Knight’s Maze, full-size-play Land Rover Defender, mini Zip Wire, Burma Bridge Tree Top Walk Way and Adventure Playground, Tearoom, Gift Shop and Ice Cream Parlour.

Open from 11am to 4.30pm and admission is Castle & Grounds – to buy tickets click here.



We held our vintage day over the Whitsun Bank Holiday weekend and attracted over 3000 visitors over 2 days.  Although we do not aspire to compete with the great vintage weekend at Goodwood, The Goodwood Revival; we invite a reasonable range of historic vehicles along and the variety appeals to our public.  We received a generous review afterwards on Trip Advisor, which was very nice.

It is certainly not a festival of speed either, rather the opposite, with steam and diesel rollers (max speed perhaps 5mph), a Foden 5 ton wagon (max speed not much more) and a large traction engine, a re-import from Tasmania, and my Ransomes Sims & Jefferies 1915 8 3/4 ton agricultural traction engine, which was spontaneously pressed into work shown in the image.  The tug of war is always popular as it is, at least on one side, a team game, with simple rules and little need for fitness and training, in fact, being slightly overweight may help.  There are 3 pulls, and this time the engine was beaten 2:1.  In an earlier competition, one or two visitors slipped on the gravel, not a ‘fair’ surface on which to compete, though it is a level playing field in the strict sense, and there were some grazed knees, but luckily not this time.

Other exhibits included the estate Morris 28hp petrol lorry, an Austin 7, a Stanley steam car, two living and one showman’s vans and hand-driven carousel.  There was a guest appearance from a Mini club, with some fine traditional Minis and a few spun-off designs.   My own Foden 6 to the steam tractor was not available as it is still away recovering from the fitting of a majorly repaired boiler, the first since new in 1928.  I hope it will be the star of the show next year.

J H-B   14 June ’14

Now in its 3rd year, the Chilli Festival at Eastnor Castle, is back on Sunday 4th and Bank Holiday Monday 5th May.  This year, there will be over 50 stalls and entertainment, showcasing all things Hot!

The Castle Courtyard will be transformed into a Chilli Market and visitors will be able to try and buy delicious products such as chocolate, bread, cake, vodka, cocktails and chutney as well as grow-your-own chilli plants.  There will also be a number of specialist hot food suppliers selling authentic Asian curries and other spicy foods.

David Littlewood, General Manager at Eastnor Castle said “We are really thrilled with the success of our Chilli Festival and it has gained a huge following.  The Clifton Chilli Club are back by popular demand this year, hosting the Chilli eating competition for anyone brave enough to join in.

Our Head Groundsman, Nick Robinson (pictured) who grows his own chillies, will be taking part in the competition to see if he can better his 3rd place last year”.

In our cookery theatre, Thai chef Suree Coates, from Shropshire who is chef of the year semi-finalist and has her own restaurant ‘The King and Thai’ will be demonstrating her authentic cookery skills;  Marina Ibrahim will be showing visitors how to make delicious Egyptian mezze and Italian chef Felice Tocchini.  Younger visitors will be well catered for with the Easy Peasy Children’s Cookery Theatre.


To create a real carnival atmosphere, there will be live musical entertainment from local Mexican band – Los Squideros from Hereford, joining them will be One Island Steel Band to entertain the crowds.


Admission prices and book tickets click here.


The much-loved family treasure hunt at Eastnor Castle will be taking place over the Easter weekend every day between Good Friday 18th April and Bank Holiday Monday 21st April between 11 am and 4.30pm.

This year the event marks the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War and to commemorate the heroes, we invite families to take part in our Hunt for Heroes.  We need you to search for the brave bunnies and chickens around the castle and grounds, solve the clues and you may be a lucky winner of a giant chocolate egg!

David Littlewood, Castle General Manager says “This is our favourite weekend of the year where local families come to Eastnor Castle to enjoy the annual treasure hunt and this year we are going back in time to World War 1!  W has lots of new and exciting events planned for this summer and we have a new full-size play Land Rover Defender and mini zip wire”.

Every child taking part in the Easter Hunt for Heroes will win a chocolate treat and there will be a draw at the end of each day when one lucky family will win a giant chocolate egg in a basket!

An exciting new festival of children’s literature, which will take place in the grounds of Eastnor Castle near Ledbury. The focus of this event is the performance of children’s literature, through drama, storytelling, illustration, arts and crafts and audience participation.

Hooked on Books will see an impressive line up of children’s authors who will be reading from their books, including:

Polly Alakija – Monday 12th to Thursday 15th August
Sally Pomme Clayton – Monday 12th August 
Hannah Shaw – Tuesday 13th August
Jessica Souhami – Wednesday 14th August
Paul Cookson – Thursday 15th August

Competition for local children

As part of the event we are promoting a short story writing competition for local children. Children are asked to write a castle-themed story of no more than five hundred words. Furthermore each entry should be supported by a front cover illustration, using whichever media is preferred.  Whether it be knights in shining armour, damsels in distress or ghostly ghouls,  stories must be set in a castle and above all, be original and entertaining.

Prizes will be awarded for the best short story and illustration in the following categories:

Children aged 5-7 years
Children aged 8-11 years

The best short story in each category will win a £25 book voucher, a Family Privilege Pass for free entry for 2 adults and 3 children to Eastnor Castle and Grounds for 12 months and an Eastnor Castle goody bag.

We will also select one overall competition winner, who will receive all of the above and have their short story beautifully produced in hardback form to keep as a memento. Furthermore, the winning story will be read by one of our guest authors during the Hooked on Books festival.

Entries must be sent to:

Sarah Littlewood, Castle Office, Eastnor Castle, Ledbury HR8 1RL

Please ensure that the name, postal address, telephone number, email address and Age of the child is written on both the story and the accompanying illustration.

All entries must be received by Friday 19th July and the winners will be notified by Monday 29th July.

For any queries please telephone 01531 633160 or email


After a very successful first year, the Chilli Festival at Eastnor Castle, near Ledbury, is back on Sunday 5th and Bank Holiday Monday 6th May.  This year, there will be even more stalls and entertainment, showcasing all things Hot!

Over 40 exhibitors will be exhibiting and demonstrating their products in the Castle Courtyard Chilli Market and visitors will be able to try and buy delicious products such as curry sauces and pastes, pickles and jams, chilli-flavoured chocolate, cheese and vodka, as well as grow-your-own chilli plants. There will also be a number of specialist hot food suppliers selling authentic Asian curries and other spicy foods.

David Littlewood, General Manager at Eastnor Castle said “We are really excited about our second Eastnor Chilli Festival. This year we have a new Chilli eating competition, organised by the Clifton Chilli Club, for those who are brave enough! Younger visitors are also well catered for with the new Easy Peasy Children’s Cookery Theatre, our specially designed Chilli Trail and the much-loved Eastnor Stilt Walker and Fire Juggler.

We are also delighted to welcome a number of new local exhibitors, including Fat Man Chilli from Preston-on-Wye and his curry sauces, plants, jellies and chocolates, Chilli Pepper Plantation from Bromyard and their grow-your-own chilli plants and Becky’s Bhajis and Dips from Rushwick in Worcestershire”.

In our cookery theatre, Rayeesa from Mordiford, will be demonstrating Indian cookery skills; vegetarian cookery will be the focus of Our Lizzy from Malvern and Marina Ibrahim will be showing visitors how to make delicious Egyptian mezze.

To create a real carnival atmosphere, there will be live musical entertainment from local Mexican band – Los Squideros from Hereford and the Pantasy Steel Band will be entertaining crowds with their traditional Caribbean music.

The second Eastnor Chilli Festival will be open from 11am to 5pm on both days and admission prices are Adults: £9.50, Seniors: £8.50, Children: £6 and a Family Ticket (2+3) is priced at £25.  Discounted tickets are available on-line.

Further details visit  Eastnor Castle or call 01531 633160.

Big Chill Festival at Eastnor Castle

The Big Chill first came to Eastnor in 2001 as a small festival with a dedicated following of fewer than 10,000 fans.  It was not a festival that aimed to attract huge crowds to mainstream acts, but rather specialised in up-and-coming performers, including a number of DJs.  The festival also had a cinema, poetry area and arts trail, and as we soon discovered, delicious food stalls and some very good shops selling clothes, music etc. The audience mostly camped in fields we made available around the main site which was in the Deer Park.

The licensing authority was generally supportive as they were keen to see an event like this come to Herefordshire and bring the delights of the county to the attention of a wider audience, whilst local people, who were understandably nervous of  the possible noise and disruption, were willing to give it as chance, perhaps encouraged by the prospect of free tickets if they lived close enough to be affected.  All went well at the first Festival, although the event caterers bought all the bread from the local supermarket on the Saturday morning, which was not popular with regular customers.  On the other hand, the organisers also spent several hundred thousand pounds with local suppliers and recruited local students to work on the site during the festival, so the economic benefits were well appreciated.

Over the last ten years, the Big Chill grew bigger, but it kept its relaxed attitude and low-profile security. At its height, it attracted 25,000 festival goers, with a further 5000 working on site.  It became an important event in the Herefordshire summer calendar and a useful way for us to fill the Park programme over the month of setting up and dismantling. More famous acts included Leonard Cohen, Lillie Allen and Kanye West when the main stage area was heaving with spectators.  The weather never let us down, amazingly, and the Park recovered, free of litter, after a few weeks. 

After missing 2012 because of a clash of dates with the Olympics, sadly the Big Chill decided it should close.  It had not attracted quite enough visitors and competition in the middle of the summer for the few headline acts every festival needs was too intense.

I am very sad it has gone as it was an exciting event and unfailingly attracted my elder children to come home for the weekend!  I understand the tradesmen of Ledbury will miss it too, but we are on the look out for a replacement event…

JH-B  10th February 2013

Due the popular demand of our last Wedding Showcase we are opening our doors again on Sunday 7th October from 11am until 3pm.  We have a few places left, please register your interest here.

Our first Chilli festival took place, as planned, on 6th & 7th May.  The weather was not ideal, and one of our normal car parks was waterlogged, so we used another field across the road in the park.  On the day, that too proved to be softer than expected, but our visitors found harder ground nearby and cheerfully, in most cases, walked the extra distance to the house.

There was an amazing selection of stalls, selling hot sauces and chutneys, curries and chilly-flavoured vodka and chocolate as well as Welsh cheeses, Herefordshire cider and perry and traditional potato chips.  We hired an entertainer, who walked about on stilts and juggled around the courtyard: he also did a great job amusing the queue at the main entrance. T here was a trail for children and a DVD showing in our exhibition room describing the building of the house, which started 200 years ago.

We attracted about 4500 visitors over the two days, most of whom went round the house where we had a fire blazing in the Great Hall.  It was quite a job to get people to move along at times as they were so glad of the extra warmth.  The feedback was good, and the stallholders were happy too, especially as we allowed them to drive right up to their stands and because they were placed right in front of the main entrance.

We plan to hold another Chilli Festival at the same time next year.  It was hard work for us as our office ran the event, but it was worth it.  I even got a compliment for emptying some rubbish bins!

JH-B   11th May 2012

“Chilly” is an adjective that was long associated with Eastnor Castle before we restored the central heating system.  We kept the word association going with the “Big Chill”, which last year celebrated its tenth anniversary at Eastnor.  We will miss the festival this year as it is having a rest while many of its faithful customers will be watching the Olympics or going abroad to avoid them, but we look forward keenly to its return in 2013.  In the meantime, we are organising our own Chilli Festival, not as much to keep the theme going, but because we think it will be an excellent new event for our visitors to the Castle. 

We have seen the success of the chilli festivals at Levens Hall through our membership of the Historic Houses Association and felt the distance between Cumbria and Herefordshire was enough to allow us to follow their example without competing, so now we look forward to having 40 exhibitors set up their stalls in the Courtyard.  Visitors will be able taste and buy curry sauces and pastes, pickles and jams, chilli chocolate, cheese and vodka.  There will be specialist hot food suppliers selling curries and other spicy food.

Local suppliers will include Monkhide WinesThe Velvet Bean and Ambalama Spices, Rayeesa, a curry expert will lead cookery demonstrations in a covered area, Los Squideros, a Hereford-based Mexican band, will provide live entertainment, and for children there will be a Chilli Trail, stilt walker and fire juggler.

We have had a lot of interest so far, I hope it will be a great success… and also that someone will be selling bananas to absorb the heat!!

JH-B     22nd April 2012

Wizard Wonky at Eastnor Castle

This week, Herefordshire’s best wizard, Wizard Wonky, has been entertaining our younger visitors when we have been open to the public. Wonky has a range of activities and here he is showing how to make animal shapes from balloons, assisted by his daughter. 

He used to be the leader of our children’s group activities when we had a special week for children, but now we spread our entertainments over the whole holiday period so we are less affected by bad weather. His programme includes Fun & Games and Magic Tricks. His sense of humour is fantastic, although many of the jokes pass over the heads of his young audience and more are enjoyed by the parents and grandparents.

In real life, as John Norris, he is a Maths teacher, and I wish he had been mine as he has no problem keeping order, explaining clearly and holding attention. His success reminds us that there is nothing better than good live entertainment and a bit of competition. Computer games stand no chance when the Wizard is around!

Tomorrow is his last day at Eastnor Castle this year, so come along if you can, even if it is raining as the Wizard has a shelter for himself and his audience…   JH-B�

Mountain Bike Race Eastnor Castle

Last weekend we hosted the great 24-hour mountain bike race, Mountain Mayhem.  Hundreds of competitors camped on site and took part in an endurance race on a ten mile course around the woods and hills within the Park and beyond. The weather was mostly dry, and not too hot, a relief for the mountain bikers if not the cold drink salesmen. 

The race runs through the night, and you could see the lights traversing the slopes after dark. As the Park is not open to mountain bikes normally, this event was a good chance for riders to compete on the slopes that are reserved otherwise for walkers, deer and Land Rovers.

The organisers and sponsors did a great job, leaving the site undamaged and giving everyone a good time. It was amazing to see the range of equipment for sale and diversity of the competitors. One year, but I did not see them this time, one or two monocycles competed. When we were children, my brother and I used to ride our normal bikes in the park, with the Sturmey Archer three-speed gears. I now see why we did not get very far…           JH-B   1st July 2009

Fundraising Eastnor Castle Event

Last Bank holiday weekend, we hosted a fund raising zip-wire event where supporters of the Noah’s Ark charity were sponsored to take off from the top of our north-east tower, cross the lake and arrive, luckily quite safely, on the far bank. The zip wire, which is reputed to have a breaking strain of 20 tons, was set up by D3, otherwise known as Outside, who are now based at Eastnor and organising a range of challenging activities for their clients on the estate.

The event was well supported and Noah’s Ark raised over £7,000.00 to support their work. No-one lost their nerve, although getting through the trap door onto the top of the tower proved a serious challenge for some as the opening is rather narrow. The ride on the wire is great once you have recovered from the nasty moment of stepping through the parapet off the top of the tower. The wire is the longest of its type in the UK, and we will be using it again later in the summer.

Meanwhile, below the wire and on the route back to the house from the landing point, there is a great display of flowering shrubs and wild flowers, including azaleas, rhododendrons and wild garlic, looking their best in the spring sunshine and helping to calm the nerves of the riders.

It was a great event, and we hope others will put this challenge on their agenda.  J H-B