A Tale Of Forbidden Love
Our tale dates back to the end of the 15th Century, when Bickleigh Castle belonged to Sir Philip Courtenay and King Henry VII was on the throne.
Tragedy struck when the Castle lost its owner the Earl of Devon during the Wars of the Roses, Bickleigh became the property of the Sir Philip, of Powderham, and was tenanted to his cousin, Sir William Carew and his extensive family.
Sir Philip was devastated further when he lost his son Sir Humphrey, in 1496, who left a daughter named Elizabeth at the tender age of just four. Sir Philip being of considerable age felt he was too old to look after Elizabeth, and asked Sir William to look after her and so Elizabeth was to be raised with his children at the Bickleigh Estate.
Many years passed and Elizabeth, now all grown up, fell in love with Sir William’s younger brother Thomas. However the match was not approved of and the young couple were soon forced to elope, disappearing in the middle of the night, much to the consternation of both Sir William and Sir Philip.
The young lovers fled to the borders of Scotland, and were still there when the Scots invaded in 1513. Fearing for her safety, Sir Thomas sent Elizabeth back to Devon where she ardently awaited news of his return.
Sir Thomas then joined in the Battle of Flodden Field much to the woe of Elizabeth.
But this tale is not to end in sorrow. Sir Thomas, after distinguishing himself at the battle of Flodden Field when he saved the life of his commander-in-chief Lord Howard. by riding out with the deputy commander.
They had found themselves in great danger of being captured by the surrounding Scots. So the gallant Sir Thomas suggested they should swap armour, allowing the Lord Admiral to escape unrecognised. This plan was enacted forthwith, and Thomas remained where he was, eventually being captured by the Scots and incarcerated in Dunbar Castle.
This might have been the end of the story, had not the Lady of the castle taken pity on Thomas, and in due course a prisoner exchange was arranged, with Sir Thomas being allowed to return to Engand where he was joyously reunited with Elizabeth along with the assured friendship of Lord Howard who made Thomas an honorary vice-admiral and espoused his cause with Elizabeth's family and relatives in such glowing terms that he and Elizabeth were welcomed home to Bickleigh with open arms, and all was forgiven.
Elizabeth and Thomas enjoyed many happy years at Bickleigh with their children, visited frequently by her cousin by marriage, the Royal Princess Katherine Plantagenet, who resided at nearby Tiverton Castle, along with various royal children who would arrive during the Summer and sometimes remain for weeks at Bickleigh enjoying its beautiful riverside setting among the Devon hills.
Elizabeth and Sir Thomas inherited the estate from Sir Philip in 1518 and until 1927, Bickleigh Castle belonged to the Carew family.
The current estate is now available for exclusive wedding weekends
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