Crisis at the Castle is a three-part documentary series which explores the hardships that have befallen the owners of three of Britain’s beautiful stately estates. Sudeley Castle, Burton Court, and Kelburn Castle are the three examples used to demonstrate what happens as these stone buildings have aged and decayed throughout the centuries. The current owners are as different from each other as the architecture but they all have to find a way to pay for the ever increasing maintenance costs that plague their lives.
Crisis at the Castle is a beautifully shot show, showcasing the beauty of the castles and the lands that surround them. We are taken into the inner most areas of the castles, being privy to some of the castles secrets that are also the reasons its owners need so much money. The documentary also shows us how they are trying to raise the money and all the successes and failures that go along with their attempts.
Crisis at the Castle not only examines the houses but also the people who live there. At Sudeley Castle, the reluctant owner is preparing to hand over the control of the house to her two children. Burton Court has two elderly owners trying to keep their house alive before handing it to their son. Kelburn Castle, which has been inhabited by the same family for many generations, sees a Lord and his Viscount son trying to not only keep their castle from falling apart but also their life of leisure. One of the things that seems to be the same across the three houses is the way in which the owners are having trouble coping with sharing their home with tourists and wedding guests. There has to be a price to pay to keep the houses from falling into disrepair, the question is if these families are willing to pay that price and still be able to have some semblance of a normal life. The two generations have two different outlooks; the older generation is having trouble changing with the times and the younger have to watch the homes they grew up in become more of a business than a home.
Included with the Crisis at the Castle DVD is a twelve page viewer’s guide. This viewer’s guide includes articles related to historic preservation guidelines, unconventional ways people have saved stately homes, gardens of the estates, as well as a map related to these homes. There is also stories of the estates themselves. This viewer’s guide is a great companion to the documentary. It gives information that expands the documentary and helps to solidify the issues that are being explored. In a country full of old castles, both in good and poor condition, we can learn what goes into keeping these architectural treasures from falling into the wayside. There is also an option to expand your learning with further discussion and questions on athenalearning.com.