Meet the Family Running Eastnor Castle
We were lucky enough to shoot our Autumn Winter Campaign at the incredible Eastnor Castle, a truly enchanting place that has been lovingly restored by the Hervey-Bathursts, who’ve been involved with Eastnor since the 1600s! We caught up with the owner, James, to learn more about what it means to take custody of a castle...
Tell us a bit about Eastnor Castle and your family's history with it?
The land has been owned by my mother’s family since the end of the 16th century! The castle itself was built in 1812 and my mother, who grew up here, moved back with my father in 1949 and began the restoration process which kept her busy for over 35 years! Lucy, my wife, is carrying on with the job…
What was it like growing up here?
Cold! We spent winters close to the Aga or wood burning stoves!! But it was wonderful too, my brother and I were blessed with amazing spaces to play in when visitors weren’t around and when it was wet, we did crazy things like cycling circuits inside the castle and playing badminton in the hall!
Which is your favourite room or space in the castle and why?
The long library is very special to me. This winter we had the painted ceiling restored with great help from the Heritage Stimulus Fund—these are the projects I really love to be a part of. They bring together teams of talented artisans and experts, who are always fascinating, and the end result is a thing of beauty and history too!
We're big believers in looking after beautiful things, but when it comes to something as big as a castle, what does that entail?
It really boils down to the fact that nothing is straightforward - take the cleaning, for example, it’s not a simple case of spray and wipe! Our team of cleaners work with triple height ceilings and hundred-year-old antiques, so everything takes time, and inevitably, things get broken when we have events and weddings. My lockdown job was glueing back all the little bits of wood that have been knocked over the years, and getting them back into place on the right piece of furniture!
You have turned Eastnor into a modern business, what has this journey been like, and what have you learnt?
That, for Eastnor to survive, it must welcome paying guests, weddings and films, and that means having a business in your house. So, much like living in a hotel, you lose some privacy and find the balance between creating a home and a place of work. The castle needs to be both, otherwise, it can be neither...
The castle has undergone lots of renovations, have they ever unearthed any secrets or treasures?!
We once stumbled upon a small Assyrian bas-relief in the cellar which has been dated to 500 BCE, which is pretty special. I'm waiting for the Antiques Roadshow to come back so I can learn more about its history!!
The grounds are beautiful too, how important is preserving the natural space alongside the built space?
Very! Initially, this was the 2nd priority as the house commanded a lot of attention, but it’s been lovely to dedicate more time to the grounds in the last 20 years and under the guidance of Tom Stuart-Smith and Lucy, my wife, our arboretum is thriving. Lockdown has seen more and more people buying Grounds-only passes, and we feel very privileged to be able to share our space and see people really enjoying it.
What’s next for Eastnor?
I think these houses mean different things to different generations. My daughter has lots of ideas, so I’m looking forward to seeing it grow and change. The most important thing is to enjoy it, meet interesting people, who pass through, grow, adapt, restore, share. It’s a huge responsibility, but as I always say to my children, it must never be allowed to ruin your lives!
With 12 beautiful rooms available for guests, as well as holiday cottages on the grounds, Eastnor is the perfect place for a special weekend party or big birthday!
For more information about bookings, head to the Eastnor Castle website.