|Castle Village, Midland, Ontario, 1973 (source)
As a child, castles held a special place in my heart. On a family trip to England, I insisted that we stop the car at every road-side castle from London to Land’s End: the towers of London, Dunster and Tintagel in Cornwall. I asked for Lego castles for Christmas, built castles out of snow and ice when the weather permitted and pretended that my bunk bed was a castle at nap time.
Despite my travels through the remnants of medieval England, my most memorable castle experience was a roadside attraction in Midland, Ontario. The castle consisted of a 500 square foot gift shop engulfed in concrete parapet walls capped with tin spires. surrounding the walls was a small moat filled with murky water. Even though this castle was tiny in scale, as a child of eight, I found it incredibly imposing. Sweat beaded on my neck as we approached the entrance, the eyes of a massive plaster dragon peering at me from the castle wall, warning me that terrible things lurked within. On entering, I was blind to the laminate flooring and fluorescent lights, as all of my attention and fears were focused on the stairway leading down to the “dungeon”. Dragged closer and closer to this darkened stairway, my nerves finally got the best of me, my legs locking in paralysis. As my brothers and sisters descended into the catacombs without me I said my final goodbyes, assuming that they would never return. They ascended a few minutes later.
In retrospect this bastardized castle was effective at provoking my imagination because of its shortcomings. The miniaturized scale and poor workmanship begged for my imagination to fill in the gaps.
E. Sean Bailey
|Madonna and Guy Richie’s Wedding, Skibo Castle, Scotland, 2000 (source)
For the wealthy celebrity, maintaining a desirable profile is often achieved by surrounding oneself with the ostentatious: luxury cars, expensive jewels, boats and even castles. The last of these spectacular indulgences ranks high amongst coveted locations, particularly for the hosting of special events. When it comes to celebrity events hosted at castles, weddings top the list for their grandeur and glamour.
High priced agreements are made between the event hosts and magazines seeking to gain first dibs on photos documenting the celebration. In order to ensure exclusive press access, celebrity hosts are required to hire security teams to limit paparazzi around the perimeter of their chosen castle. In this regard, castles themselves are no longer able to fulfill their protective role—while once they could protect their aristocratic inhabitants from entire armies, they are defenseless against the capture of images.
Erandi de Silva