Looking for a Princess

After walking the grounds and seeing the exteriors of several castles, we knew that it was time to satisfy Elena’s curiosity and figure out what the inside of a castle looks like. Ripley castle is not particularly large or famous. It is somewhat unusual due to the fact that the Ingilby family still lives there today, as their ancestors have done for more than seven hundred years. The castle is the seat of the Ingilby baronetcy, but the ins and outs of the titles of nobility are too complicated for us, let alone Elena, so in talking about the visit, we went along with her simplified assertion that a young woman living in the castle would be a princess, and decided to be on the lookout for princesses.

The castle tour was interesting, with lots of old family portraits, amusing stories, and historical pieces of furniture. One of my favorites was a large stained glass window that has an interesting way of recording family history: each panel represents a marriage by showing two family crests, with the side the Ingilby crest is on determined by whether they had the bride or groom in that union. Elena wanted to know which room belonged to the princess, but I don’t think any of them seemed like a good fit with her internally calibrated idea of how a princess room should appear.

The oldest part of the castle is a tower from the sixteenth century. The room at the top of the tower was full of armor, weapons, medals and ribbons, and various other artifacts. Elena and Roman probably would have been more interested if they were just a little bit older. That room also had a tiny hidden compartment behind one of the walls that must have been the best hiding place ever–it wasn’t rediscovered until a few decades ago, but according to the stories it must have sheltered many people who were wanted by the authorities and would likely have been put to death.

After the tour of the castle itself, we took a walk through the deer park next to the lake on the grounds. Except for the castle itself in the background, it seemed more like a ranch or a farm than anything else, including a small herd of cattle. The town is known for its ice cream–maybe they come from those cows. Later we walked by a large stage set up for a concert and air show later that evening, as well as a ropes/adventure course. As we took one more turn around the garden before we leaving, we were treated to the sweet sounds of the orchestra warming up in the distance with the Sleeping Beauty waltz and other favorites. To leave we had to walk by the castle proper again, right through a wedding that was about to start. The bride certainly looked like a princess! Keeping a castle in the black must require diversified revenue streams.

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