Ruthin Castle Hotel, nestled in acres of beautiful parkland, is the perfect romantic setting for a weekend break or evening jaunt to enjoy a jolly with friends or workmates.
Each month the castle hosts themed Medieval Banquets and the welcome is as warm as the smile on everyone’s face as you step back in time to a world of merry japes and bawdy limericks.
Arriving at the castle is a treat in itself as your nostrils fill with the smell of mulled wine and the grand architecture leads you through a maze of open stonework. The castle became a hotel in the 1960s and some of the décor certainly reflects a 70s feel rather than 13th Century but hospitality oozes from every corner as you are handed bread and salt upon arrival by ladies in billowing costumes.
Once all guests were assembled in the bar, with drinks in hand, we were given an entertaining speech – each verse in rhyme – on the history of Ruthin castle and its legends by our friendly master of ceremonies for the evening.
The banqueting hall is large enough to host sizeable groups comfortably but doesn’t grow so vast that you don’t feel cosy. Our party of thirteen merrymakers, donned in both fancy dress and modern day dress (for it is perfectly acceptable to wear either) were shown to the top table to preside over the night’s proceedings.
Laughter rang through the rafters as my friend and I were declared the baron and baroness – presented with a crown each – as we were seated upon wooden thrones and raised our glasses of mead to toast the night’s hearty feast ahead.
Our gracious servers could not do enough to ensure the food was plentiful and our cups were over flowing. Fastening white bibs around our necks, we knew we were in for a messy meal, just as in times gone by, and there would be no heated lemon scented wet wipes handed out later!
Attention to detail is clear at the castle, with all the ingredients locally sourced and the chorus of Welsh singers and musicians clearly loved every moment of their performances as we started tucking into Thick Vegetable Soup. With no spoons we glugged down the delicious broth and mopped up leftovers with a generous chunk of bread.
The main courses of braised Lamb Shank with chunky root vegetables followed by slow roasted leg of Chicken in Honey and Orange dressing with Jacket Potato were delicious – the lamb was tender and absolutely melt in the mouth while the chicken was hefty and satisfying. Meat sliding easily from the bone, dripping in its delightful juices, one had to roll your sleeves up and get stuck in to the spirit of the feast. That we certainly did with clean plates (but stained bibs!) all round!
All the while between courses diners were invited to dance merry jigs, listen to a heart rending version of ‘You Raise Me Up’ in Welsh and were regaled with the bawdy limericks we had all been given the chance to write at the start of proceedings, and it was one of our party declared the winner and presented with a miniature whisky for her wit!
By the time it came to the delicate dessert of Fruit Syllabub my belly was fit to burst, but the sweet and sour taste cut through the tastebuds and roused us ready to hear the evening’s final traditional singsong of carols before retiring to the bar for a good old fashioned knees up with modern disco tunes.
As the clock struck midnight it is fair to say not a single one of us were ready to take to our carriages and leave the Medieval merriment behind. The night will long remain in the memory as a unique celebration, and a chance to do something different in a world so consumed with trying something ‘new’, why not try something tried and tested – a banquet fit for a King!
Click rating: **** Four stars! Enchanting.
For a fantastic selection of medieval costume choices call 01490 413141 or visit www.costume-company.co.uk – they even offer a delivery and collection service to the hotel.
Celebrate Valentine’s at Ruthin Castle with a Six Course Valentine’s Dinner – just £49.95 per person Friday 14th February – call 01824 702664 to reserve your table.
Upcoming 2014 banquets:
February – Saturday 15th & Saturday 22nd
March – Saturday 1st, Saturday 22nd & Saturday 29th
April – Saturday 12th, Saturday 26th & Sunday 27th
May – Saturday 3rd & Saturday 24th
June – Saturday 7th & Thursday 26th
July – Saturday 5th & Thursday 17th
Aug – Saturday 2nd & Saturday 16th
Sept – Saturday 6th & Friday 19th
Oct – Saturday 4th, Saturday 18th & Friday 31st
Nov – Saturday 15th
Full details and special offers visit: www.ruthincastle.co.uk