A Visit To Dobroyd Castle

This was the first visit to the castle by the Society since it has been taken over by the Robinwood Activity Centre organisation.  The Castle is now used as activity centre for 8-11yrs.

A large party of Fieldens met at Dobroyd Castle.  Included in the group was a lady who was not a member of the Fielden Society, but nevertheless had been invited to join us because she is the process of writing the biography of Ruth Fielden.  There is even the possibility of turning it into a play script and offering it to the TV channels

Our visit We started off at the back door i.e. the servant's entrance where Merlyn Farmer, who is a senior member of staff at the Activity Centre, met us to show us around.  The Castle now owned by the Activity Centre has been adapted to suit its new role of housing 180 children, but many original features abound.  It was interesting to look at the plan of the ground floor and compare then and now.

Many modifications had been made to the servant's area with rooms for 'boots and knives' and 'brew and wash house' not really required any more.  These rooms are now used as store rooms for the many of the pieces of equipment required by the Activity Centre.  The Housekeeper's room, Storeroom and Butler's pantry had been made into one large room and now used as the Dining Room for the children taking part in the courses.  Interestingly, on the corridor outside this room was some children's work about the history of the Castle.

We then walked through one door and entered another world-one of opulence and grandeur.  The contrast was quite startling.  We were in the saloon or central hall, which was totally unaltered since the time of John and Ruth.  Indeed when the Activity Centre took over the Castle they made the cleaning and refurbishment of this area a priority.  All the different surfaces, both marble and mirrors, gleamed in the strong light coming down from the dome.  The colours created by use of the many different materials and the space achieved in the double height room combined to form an amazing place.

We explored the other large rooms such as the Dining Room, the Drawing Room, the Breakfast Room and the Billiard room.  We found beautiful floors, examples of plasterwork, mahogany woodwork and marble fireplaces.  These rooms were not in the same condition as the saloon but we were told their restoration was to be part of future plans.

We then continued to a room, which is identified as 'Own Room' on the plan we had.  It is now used as an office by the Activity centre staff.  What we discovered there was quite amazing.  In the back corner was a door which when opened revealed an old Victorian safe made by Chubb of London.  It was so huge that it seems it must have been there since the Castle was built.  We speculated that 'Own Room' must indeed refer to John himself.  Perhaps after the accident that crippled him, in 1873 he conducted much of his business from here.  What was in the safe? Nobody knows because there doesn't seem to be a key!

We then mounted the magnificent staircase to visit the first floor room. 

Again there was a contrast between the rooms, which had been renovated, and those, which hadn't.  The main bedrooms, those of John and Ruth, on the front were in quite good condition with good examples of plasterwork, woodwork and fireplaces.  Ruth's boudoir was in a fairly poor condition with paper peeling and plasterwork deteriorating but with some of the original yellow décor being discernable.  We were unable to climb the staircase to the Tower because it was felt that it wasn't yet in a safe enough state.

We finished our visit with a tour round the walled garden, which still has some fruit trees producing edible fruit.  We know they were edible, because we were allowed to pick and eat some apples from a tree, that may well have produced fruit for the table of more famous and wealthy Fieldens than us.  How the wheel of history turns.            

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