Rex the Rabbit Visits Hartlebury Castle
Text only version
Rex was a rabbit who loved history. He was very excited when he learnt that his human worked at Hartlebury Castle. She said that it had lots of history. So one day, Rex decided to visit.
On the day of his visit, Rex was so excited. He bought his ticket, hopped around the Carriage Circle and went into the Castle. Rex was amazed as he hopped into the Great Hall. He looked around in wonder. There were portraits everywhere. Are all of these people bishops? He thought.
As he started looking more closely at the portraits, a lady came up to him.
‘Welcome to Hartlebury Castle.’ She said. ‘My name is Maria. Would you like me to show you around?’
‘Oh yes please!’ said Rex. ‘That would be lovely.’
Rex approached the first portrait. ‘Who’s he?’ he asked. ‘He looks familiar.’
‘This is Right Reverend Dr John Inge, the current Bishop of Worcester.’ Said Maria. ‘He became bishop in March 2008. You may have seen him in the local news speaking on behalf of the clergy and churches under his care.’
‘How many Bishops of Worcester were there?’ Rex asked, as he looked at another picture.
‘113’ Maria replied. ‘This timeline lists all of the bishops from the 12th century onwards. It also shows important dates in history like the English Civil Wars.’ This is so cool, thought Rex.
He turned back to the portrait he had been looking at.
‘That is Bishop Arthur Perowne, Bishop of Worcester 1931 – 41.’ Maria told him. ‘His father was also Bishop here in the 1890s. He was once visited by the Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin to discuss the abdication of Edward VIII. However, the butler did not recognise the Prime Minister and so nearly sent him to the servants’ entrance.’
‘Oops!’ said Rex ‘That could have been difficult to explain.’
Rex carried on exploring the Great Hall. He stopped at another portrait. ‘Why does this bishop have all of those medals?’ He asked
‘That’s Bishop William Cash, Bishop of Worcester 1941 – 56. He was a chaplain to the forces during World War One and awarded the Distinguished Service Order in 1916 and made a CBE in 1919.’
‘Wow.’ Said Rex. ‘Did he do anything in World War Two?’
‘He remained as Bishop of Worcester, however most of his staff went to war or worked in the factories. Only his head gardener and chauffeur remained.’
Rex dashed over to the next portrait.
‘And this one?’ He asked, eager to hear the next story.
‘Bishop Robert Carr, Bishop of Worcester 1831 – 1841. Bishop Carr was very good friends with George IV, while he was still the Prince of Wales. He even took on some of the Prince’s debts when George owed a lot of money. Unfortunately, Bishop Carr couldn’t pay off the debts. When he died, his coffin had to stay in the Great Hall, here at Hartlebury Castle until the debt was taken on by somebody else.’
‘Eek!’ Said Rex, before he moved onto the next portrait.
‘That’s Bishop Richard Hurd, Bishop of Worcester 1781 – 1808. He built the amazing Hurd Library here at the Castle because he wanted somewhere to keep all of his books. When he died, he left all of his books to the future Bishops of Worcester. You’ll find out more about him and his library as you explore the Castle.’
‘Nice!’ said Rex and approached the final portrait.
‘Bishop Peter Selby, Bishop of Worcester 1997 – 2007. He was the last Bishop to live at Hartlebury Castle. While at Worcester he was also Bishop to Her Majesty’s prisons and was a supporter of the Civil Partnership Act 2004.’
‘Why did they move the Bishop’s home when he retired?’
‘Partly because it was very expensive to live here and also because the Bishop’s new home is much closer the Worcester Cathedral.’
This is all fascinating! Thought Rex. I wonder what else there is to see…
‘Oh wow!’ Said Rex. ‘Is…is this the Hurd Library?’
‘It is’ replied Maria. It was built by Richard Hurd in 1782. It is now the only Anglican bishop’s library with its books on their original shelves in the room built for it.’
‘It’s stunning!’ said Rex. ‘Are all the books about religion?’
‘Oh no. There are lots of topics including history, science and nature. We’ve also got books given to Bishop Hurd by King George III himself, and some that used to belong to famous poets like Alexander Pope.’
‘Amazing! What’s your oldest book?’
‘Our oldest book is called the Golden Legend, which was printed in 1476.’
‘That’s very old.’ Said Rex.
Then Rex spotted something out of the corner of his eye. ‘Is that a hat?!’ he asked. Maria chuckled.
‘Yes it is. It’s called a mitre and the Bishop wears it during services. He also wears a cope, which is a bit like a cloak. You can try that mitre on if you like.’ Rex didn’t need to be told twice, he rushed to the mitre and balanced it on his head. ‘How do I look?’ he asked happily.
Rex carried on exploring the Castle and came across a funny looking portrait.
‘Why don’t they have any faces?’ he asked.
‘That’s for you to pretend to be King George III or Queen Charlotte’ Maria replied. ‘It’s based on copies of their portraits by artist Thomas Gainsborough which are in our beautiful Georgian Saloon. They were given to Bishop Hurd by King George III and Queen Charlotte. They were good friends and visited him at the Castle for breakfast once. Would you like to pretend to be in the portrait?’
‘I want to be George!’ cried Rex, as he hopped behind the picture.
Rex was still exploring when he heard a rumbling noise. He looked down at his tummy. In all of his excitement he hadn’t realised it was lunchtime! So off he hopped to enjoy a delicious salad. While he was eating his lunch, Rex noticed a small Gypsy Wagon for children to play in. That looks fun! He thought, but I wonder why it’s here. Rex soon discovered why… The Castle had an amazing collection of colourful Gypsy Wagons.
‘Hartlebury Castle’s so cool!’ Thought Rex, as he bought his Guardian Pass. ‘I’ll have to come back again soon.’ With these thoughts, Rex hopped back home, thinking about his wonderful day out at Hartlebury Castle.
Research copyright of Mary Arden-Davis