For a real treat, Carlton Towers is a great location to have a right royal time
Where I went
Carlton Towers doubled as Windsor Castle in ITV drama Victoria and this Grade I-listed country house is set in a 250-acre North Yorkshire estate, south of Selby.
Parts of the building, ablaze with scarlet creepers when I visited, date back to the Domesday Book of 1086. There’s a 1777 wing, converted chapel and impressive Victorian façade.
Once named Carlton Hall, it became Carlton Towers when turrets and gargoyles were added in the 19th Century.
One of the bedrooms named ‘Priest’s Hiding Hole’ has a glass panel in the floor to display a Catholic cleric’s snug Reformation hideaway. (It didn’t turn out well.)
What I did
I first enjoyed a York city walking tour with Real Yorkshire Tours’ Tim Barber (firstname.lastname@example.org). The Romans sailed up the Humber and their tombs remain, there are medieval halls, Viking houses and the streets are dotted with stone cats, talismans to ward off 14th Century plague.
At Carlton Towers, I tried clay pigeon shooting with expert marksman Vernon Miles (I missed but he was very patient) and 4×4 off-road driving with Ardent Events.
I made cheese with expert cheesemongers Cryer & Stott and learnt about craft beer with Little Black Dog Brewery who produce artisan ales in a former coach house.
Where I stayed
The very sociable Lord and Lady Fitzalan Howard share their ancestral residence with the public and made my two-night stay a lot of fun. I slept in a huge room with antique furniture, four-poster bed and fancy drapes.
As I browsed around this family home, I came across two chairs from Queen Elizabeth II’s 1953 coronation and Christmas cards from Prince Charles.
Lord Gerald has spent 30 years restoring the estate and is enthusiastic about his rare-breed pigs – the cutest called Doris – sheep, hens, beehives, walled kitchen garden and new vineyard.
Carlton Towers offers a range of themed breaks throughout the year. See carltontowers.co.uk
What I ate
Dinner first night was a candle-lit four-course meal in the Venetian Drawlng Room, a key filming location for Victoria. After the amuse bouche, I was served a beetroot starter, salmon fish course, roast partridge main and trio of desserts.
The following evening was a relaxed tapas and wine-pairing event in the restored Victorian kitchens that now house Cooks – The Carlton School Of Food. The cassoulet with homemade chorizo was delicious with a Spanish Rioja.
Each morning I had the Full English breakfast with Carlton Towers bacon, sausage and egg, followed by honey-smeared toast.
From York I shared a minibus taxi, but you can get a rail connection to Selby and then a 401 bus. By car, just motor up the huge drive.