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Get Out of Town, | Jan 28, 2016

Castle in the corn

Imagine being treated like royalty without leaving the state.

Dylan Groh serenades three ladies with a lute at Clayshire Castle. Costumes and props are provided at the castle so guests have the best photo ops. /Photo by Courtney Veneri

Clayshire Castle is a medieval-themed bed and breakfast run by Doug and Mary Jo Smock, though guests call them Lord Douglas and Lady Josephine. Doug, an engineer for Rolls Royce, and Mary Jo, a pediatrician, said they had always dreamed of running a bed and breakfast, and the castle theme came from their love of Renaissance fairs and history.

The castle was built in 2012 as the Smocks’ retirement plan, and they welcome guests from all over the country. They host themed weddings as well as festivals. Lord Douglas is an avid jouster, though not on horseback, and he says he loves hosting festivals that feature giant trebuchets launching pumpkins into the woods.


Bowling Green, 33 miles northwest of Bloomington. Signs on State Road 46 guide drivers down gravel roads to the castle.


Rooms go for $200 a night plus $25 per each extra person (up to four total) staying in the room.


Clayshire Castle has five guest rooms, each with a different medieval theme — Enchanted Forest, Tapestry, Wine Cellar, Tournament and Fairy Tale. Each room has a king-size bed, a decadent bathtub and an electric fireplace. Guests can read or play chess in the library with a chess set that, according to Lord Douglas, is based on the first set ever created. One side of the castle is reserved for their family.


Guests are treated to a royal breakfast — warm scones, fruit parfaits, bacon — with a main course varying from quiche to eggs Benedict, all homemade by Lord Douglas. Guests can pay extra for a royal dinner or go to a restaurant in the surrounding towns.


The castle sits on 100 acres, and hiking trails lead guests through the surrounding forests to a lake where anglers can bring their poles and fish. A hedge maze and a giant chess set lure guests when the weather is nice.

The castle also has an extensive costume room with medieval outfits and accessories for all ages. Guests can dress up and take pictures around the castle — even on a throne.

When night falls, visitors can relax in the outdoor hot tub while looking at the stars. Kids can roast marshmallows at the fire pit and make s’mores.

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