Of Castles and Kings
Updated: Mar 20, 2018
I’ve had a minor obsession with castles lately. This is attributable to my search for event venues for my book launch party that have some (ANY) character. First problem: I live in a state that is only 141 years old. There is graffiti in Warwick Castle in the U.K. that is 300 years older than my whole state! So needless to say, not very many castles have been built in this very young part of the country.
Second problem: The two well-known castles that I did find are either very expensive (Cherokee Ranch & Castle) or didn’t deem it worth their time to respond to my two requests for information (Dunafon Castle.)
Third problem: Most event venues in this area are either completely booked already with weddings for all summer weekend evenings or have subscribed to the current design trend of all white walls (yawn) with splashes of rustic wood and metal (falling asleep here with this look, but that is a whole other topic/post.) I wanted something with historical or gothic architecture, possibly stone masonry walls, color, (anything, please!) ideally in a central location. All very difficult to find! But after combing around the internet for weeks, I found it! Further miracle - its available for the weekend evening in July that I wanted!! Jumping up and down!!
So, here’s a tip if you are looking for an event venue with character for a reasonable price. Check out all city and county websites for their event venues. The cities have inherited properties that they use for a combination of offices and event venues, sometimes for as little as $50 an hour. My husband and I were married at Chief Hosa Lodge, another castle-type venue owned by the City and County of Denver, that is as charming as it is very reasonably priced.
What’s the obsession with castles, you may ask? Well, there are several in the book, and I wanted to pay homage to that with my celebration. But even deeper than that, I feel like they are a symbol of a time with kings, chivalry, beauty, and an appreciation of quality and craftsmanship. It sometimes took decades to build just a wing or tower of a castle, or for example, over 300 years to build Raglan Castle in Wales, which still stands today. Compare this to the M.O. now, tearing down Mile High Stadium after only 53 years of use, which was, and is just offensive to me.
I appreciate the ingenuity and skill it took to fit the stones together tightly while maintaining the perfect curves of towers and staircases, creating not just a home for hundreds of lords and ladies and their servants, but a fortress to protect them as well.
Ok, I know, this is all a very romantic view. I know that in reality they were drafty, cold places with no sanitation to speak of. The finely dressed court of the Sun King regularly (ehem) relieved themselves in the corners of the great halls of Versailles, leaving visitors to comment on the stench that pervaded the place. The oubliette at Wickham Castle (and other Castles as well) was a pitch-black hole in the rock, devoid of all sound and light, with a tiny opening at the top where if you were found guilty of something or other, the Earl threw you in and forgot you – left you there to starve to death – if you didn’t lose your mind first. Charming, huh? (If you are interested in more stories about castles, I recommend Secrets of Great British Castles on Netflix.)
Murders, uprisings, and conspiracies were all commonplace in these magnificent, massive structures. A dark soul with a highborn, beautiful face. Maybe that’s why I like them. If a castle was a character, what a story that could be! (Hmmm… I wonder…)