The 666-year-old Langley Castle, in Langley-on-Tyne, Northumberland, staged a sophisticated champagne party on July 4, to celebrate 30 years as a hotel under the ownership of Dr Stuart Madnick, an American professor from Boston.
Around 100 people gathered to reflect on three decades in which the stunning and atmospheric property has been a true castle hotel, since opening its doors to the public in 1986. During this time, it has won a Silver Award in the Enjoy England Awards for Excellence twice, attracted many famous guests, including J K Rowling and Rowan Atkinson, and hosted a wedding for a Chinese news reader that was attended by a former Minister of Mongolia.
It has also seen the restoration of the 1902 chapel that was created and consecrated on its Battlements by Josephine d’Echarvines, the wife of former owner, Cadwallader John Bates. This chapel had originally been founded after Josephine successfully requested an audience with Pope Leo XIII and was granted permission to create a chapel in memory of her husband, who had restored Langley after many centuries of the castle being in ruins.
Further investment saw the contemporary Pavilion dining and private function area added to the castle a few years ago and has enabled Langley to become and retain 4-star status, as well as its two AA Rosette accreditation. Ongoing expenditure has retained the integrity of the historic building, ensuring it is much more than a castle façade. As a result, it continues to boast the best example of medieval garderobes – posh toilets – in Europe, if not the world and many other features that are from the original 14th century castle.
Most recently, in July 2015, Langley Castle put out a call for a Northumberland Day and, to help move this forward, Langley Castle buried an exciting time capsule, as part of its July 4 celebrations, which was innovatively housed in a Nebuchadnezzar champagne bottle – the largest bottle in the world, which can hold the equivalent of 20 bottles of champagne.
This contained copies of official documents relating to Dr Madnick’s purchase of the castle, his acquisition of the title of Baron of Langley in 2007 (a title stripped from Langley after two of its former owners took part in Jacobite uprisings and were beheaded at the Tower of London), memorabilia, staff photos, guest comments, architects drawings, a letter from one of the very first guests who stayed at Langley, a 2AA Rosette plate, the history of Langley by Mrs Hadcock McKay, a list of all the brides and grooms who have married at Langley this year, a garter from one of the brides, menus, and two poems, one of which was “The Man in the Glass’
Guests, including some of the people who have been helping to move the concept of Northumberland Day forward over the past year, signed the box in which the time capsule was housed, creating their own messages for whoever discovers the box in the future.
Additionally, the time capsule contained a letter from nine-year-old Erin Martin from Westmoor, Newcastle. Erin, a pupil at Westmoor Primary School, won a competition which asked children to write a letter to the people of the future. Her letter told people that her favourite lesson is English, her favourite pastime is a game on her iPad (Minecraft) and that “a big change has happened in my life. Our country voted to leave the EU. I wonder how this will affect the future?”
Erin will now be able to have her own party at Langley Castle, inviting seven friends to enjoy being princesses and princes for a day, as well as experiencing the Battlements Tour that residents and non-residents can enjoy daily.
Dr Madnick said: “Langley has existed as a castle for 666 years. When I bought the castle, I wanted to share this exceptional place with the public, so made it a hotel. I am delighted to have enjoyed 30 successful years here, with loyal staff who have bucked the trend in the hospitality sector and enjoyed careers far longer with one employer than could ever have been expected. I think this is because we are all part of a Langley family here and there is a very unique atmosphere in this beautiful castle.
“I am proud of the leadership role we have taken with regard to Northumberland Day over the last year and hope that our time capsule will enable people to grasp our history and how Northumberland Day came about, as I am confident that with the enthusiastic team that we have driving this, we will make this concept a reality. I also hope that Langley will continue to bring joy and happiness to many people, for many years to come.”
Press calls: Jane Hunt, Catapult PR, 01253 891114 – firstname.lastname@example.org