"Broughton Castle . . . about the most beautiful castle in all England . . . for sheer loveliness of the combination of water, woods and picturesque buildings." So said historian Sir Charles Oman in 1898.
It was built as a manor house in 1300 in the village of Broughton by Sir John de Broughton at a location where the merging of three streams created a natural site for a moated manor, the house was sold in 1377 to William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester. The battlements were created in 1406 by Sir Thomas Wykeham.
The house was passed by inheritance to the Fiennes family (Barons Saye and Sele) in 1451. In the 17th century William Fiennes, 1st Viscount Saye and Sele was one of the leading militant reformers against Charles I. He raised troops to fight against the King at the Battle of Edgehill in 1642 and Royalist troops later besieged the castle, overcoming the defenders and occupying the castle for a while. It fell into disrepair in the 19th century but was rescued eventually by Frederick Fiennes, 16th Lord Saye and Sele, who brought in Sir George Gilbert Scott the renowned Victorian architect .
Broughton Castle is to this day still the home of the Saye and Sele family. Many films and tv programmes have been filmed there, notably parts of the films The Scarlett Pimpernel (1982), Three Men and a Little Lady (1990), The Madness of King George (1994) and Shakespeare in Love (1998).
As we walked we saw this family of Canada Geese
preparing for a snooze
in the beautiful place where they had chosen to live.
Although on this occasion we didn't visit the formal gardens, I couldn't resist a few photos from the other side of the moat.
Maybe with troubled thoughts,
Come, enter here and rest;
And may the sweet serenity of growing things,
And the heavenly,peace
Be mirrored in thy soul.'
I thought this rose was particularly lovely.
The sky would rain down roses, as they rain
From off the shaken bush. Why will it not?
Then all the valley would be pink and white
And soft to tread on. They would fall as light
As feathers, smelling sweet; and it would be
Like sleeping and like waking, all at once!'
We spent some time watching the Swallows, soaring and dipping over the moat in pursuit of insects for their meal. Trying to photograph them was the most frustrating experience as they darted backwards and forwards and in and out of my viewfinder, it was impossible to get any decent photos but I have included two which just about show what they are.
And the great winds come and go,
And the steady breezes blow,
Bearing perfume, bearing love.
Breezes hasten, swallows fly,
Towered clouds forever ply.'
I was very struck by the sculptural contours of this old tree
and I thought these Water Lilies looked pretty too.
Unfortunately we hadn't seen very much in the way of bird life apart from the Canada Geese, Swallows and these Mallards.
As we retraced our steps through the parkland to make our way back to the car the bells were ringing to summon parishioners to evening worship at the church situated in the grounds of this beautiful castle where lie the remains of many of the ancestors of its owners.