Eastnor Castle, near Ledbury, took tentative steps towards re-opening at the weekend as it reinstated access to limited parts of the grounds for visitors for the first time since the Covid-19 lockdown began.
Like all tourism and leisure businesses, Eastnor Castle was forced to indefinitely close its gates on 23rd March, just weeks before it was due to open for a busy Easter.
The castle and grounds have been closed ever since until a change in Government guidance last weekend advised attractions could open their gardens through a ticketed control system.
Eagerly anticipating this announcement, Eastnor Castle had been working hard throughout their closed period to implement Covid-19 safety measures to ensure that they could open up as soon as possible after the broadcast was made.
These safety measures included limiting ticket capacity and selling tickets online only, closing the maze and playgrounds and implementing one-way systems. Extra hand-sanitiser stations were also bought in along with signage advising visitors to keep 2 metres apart from each other when queuing for ice creams.
Following a successful re-opening weekend, David Littlewood, General Manager of Eastnor Castle said: “We’re delighted we were able to re-open parts of our grounds at the weekend for visitors and it was great to see so many of them enjoying a day out. It’s been a particularly challenging time for us, alongside the whole tourism sector, as we’ve had to remain closed during the main part of our busy season.”
“Typically, we’ve had some lovely weather during lockdown too which would have bought lots of visitors here. Normally by the beginning of June we would have welcomed 25,000 visitors to Eastnor Castle so to have missed all of those is devastating as we won’t be able to make those visitor numbers up again in the coming months before we close for the season at the end of September.”
He continued “Looking ahead though, our partial grounds opening this weekend was a great success and we’ve had some lovely feedback from our visitors who commented on how safe they felt with the protection measures we’ve implemented. We’ve all seen the photos of crowded beaches and beauty spots over the last few weeks so I think our visitors enjoyed the space in our 100 acres of grounds. We have limited ticket numbers to just 10% of our maximum capacity so it’s never going to feel overcrowded.”
“It’s a shame we’re not able to open the castle, maze and playgrounds at the moment but we’re hoping we can add more to our offering over the coming weeks as the restrictions are lifted. Although our Tea Room also remains closed, our ice cream parlour was open at the weekend and did particularly well.”
Eastnor Castle is now open on Saturdays and Sundays until the end of June. Ticket prices have been reduced to reflect the limited attractions and tickets must be purchased online.
More information can be found at www.eastnorcastle.com