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Monday, June 27, 2016

Family builds local castle

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Clayshire Castle is almost 10,000 square feet and includes five guest bedrooms. The Smock's plan to turn it into a bed and breakfast, to open next May. [Order this photo]
Bernie and Katie Voges (left) are the son-in-law and daughter of Mary Jo and Doug Smock (right), who are the owners of Clayshire Castle. All four have been working on the idea for years. [Order this photo]
Clayshire Castle sits on property in Bowling Green, Ind. The name means "Clay County," as shire is an Old English word for county.
As your car winds down the long gravel road, you begin to wonder if you're in the right place. But then you turn the corner to see a vast opening with a large castle before you.

After 10 years of planning and 10 months of building, the castle is complete.

Doug and Mary Jo Smock, along with their daughter Katie and her husband Bernie Voges, have been busy hanging wall art, tapestries and curtains in their new establishment, which doubles as the Smock's new home.

Clayshire Castle is the name of the local attraction, which sits in Bowling Green, Ind.

"Shire is an old English word for county," Bernie said. "So Clayshire -- Clay County."

The two Indianapolis residents, Doug and Mary Jo, enjoy having medieval-themed dinners for friends and family. Doug is a chef who specializes in medieval meals, while Mary Jo is a musician and medieval costume designer.

The couple has always had a dream of creating a medieval-themed bed and breakfast after they retire.

Now, before retirement, the couple is on their way to fulfilling their dream.

"We decided to (build the castle) before retirement because interest rates are down," Mary Jo told The Brazil Times.

Doug agreed.

"Interest rates were down and building costs were down, so we said, 'Let's start now,'" Doug said.

The Smock's had land south of Martinsville, Ind., but they decided the location would be too noisy due to the new highway being built.

"We looked for other property and found this piece of land (in Bowling Green, Ind.)," Mary Jo said. "It's such a pretty place."

The architectural plans began 10 years ago when Katie began sketching ideas for the castle. In September 2011, Daniel Builders, Cloverdale, began the ground breaking.

"(Daniel) made what we drew exactly how we drew it," Doug said.

The Clayshire Castle sits on 120 acres. The property includes many fruit trees that Mary Jo will use to make jams, jellies and syrups. [Order this photo]
When Doug and Mary Jo showed the property to Katie and Bernie, the four agreed it was the perfect location.

"Your winding through the woods and you finally come to this big clearing," Bernie said, describing the moment he saw the property. "I said, 'That's it.'"

Mary Jo said she wasn't worried about the location being too far away for visitors.

"That will be the charm of it," she said. "It's a chance to get away."

The property includes a stocked lake for fishing and hiking trails for guests.

"It's a place where they can relax and have fun," Mary Jo said.

The three-story castle, which is almost 10,000-square feet, sits on 120 acres and includes five guest rooms, a library, a game room/lounge, a full service kitchen and an exercise room, among other rooms.

The Fairytale guest room includes a bed, pull-out sofa, flat screen TV, bathroom and closet, as do all the guest rooms in the castle.
When you enter the castle from the main doors, you are quickly taken back in time. Two bathrooms and coatrooms sit on either side of the entrance, where you can walk straight into the great hall. The great hall will have custom-made tables and chairs that are authentic to the medieval times. A knight's suit of armor stands above the servant's entrance, and eight chandeliers hang from the ceiling.

The Smock's said the great hall would be used for dinner banquets, weddings and serving breakfast to guests. The hall can hold up to 100 guests.

The backside of the building makes up the living quarters for the Smock's, including a kitchen, living area, bedroom, two bathrooms and an office, as well as a large pantry, laundry room and many closets.

"My mom is obsessed with closets," Katie told The Brazil Times.

Walking up the stairs leads you to the library, complete with a balcony overlooking the entrance to the property, which includes an apple orchard, fire pit, hot tub, hedge maze and lawn chess game.

The great hall can hold up to 100 guests for dinner banquets, weddings or other events. The great hall has eight chandeliers and a suit of knight's armor above the servant's entrance. [Order this photo]
Katie said she plans to make a large garden on part of the property. She and Bernie are responsible for landscaping the property and have many ideas.

Inside, the five guest bedrooms each have a name and theme including Enchanted Forest, Fairytale, Tournament, Tapestry and Wine Cellar. The rooms all include their own bathroom, a sleeper sofa, closet and flat screen TV.

The charm of the bed and breakfast will be in its details. Each room has a skeleton key rather than a card to swipe. Bernie's mother embroidered all the towels and robes. Custom-made stained glass by Fox Studio, Indianapolis, covers windows in the great hall.

"They used recycled pieces from old churches," Katie said.

In the basement, guests can enjoy a lounge and game room, kitchenette, children's play room and exercise room. The Smock's said they might have a spa downstairs as well. They also have a conference room available for guests.

In the basement of the castle sits a costume room, full of medieval attire for guests to wear during their stay if they choose to do so. Mary Jo Smock or her daughter Katie Voges made almost all of the costumes.
Due to Mary Jo and Katie's love of sewing, the Clayshire Castle also has a costume room complete with clothing for peasants to princesses from children's clothing to size 26. Mary Jo said guests would be able to try on costumes and wear them during their stay. Katie began sewing in middle school, and now at the age of 27, still likes to make dresses and other clothing for renaissance fairs. The ladies said they usually make one outfit per year. The costume room also has masks, crowns, hats and chainmail, which knights used to wear.

The Smock's said fencing and medieval dancing would be a few of the activities available to guests.

Guests won't be able to enjoy the new attraction right away; the family has many features to finish before opening. Currently, they are setting the guest bedrooms up and adding features such as ladders to the bookshelves in the library or signs above the guest bedrooms.

Mary Jo said her and her husband would like to "practice" the bed and breakfast with their friends and family before having their grand opening, including a renaissance fair, sometime around next May. The public will be welcome to attend the event.

Until then, the Smock's and Voges' invite the community to become a fan of their Facebook page, "Clayshire Castle," in order to stay updated on the happenings of the attraction. The Castle will eventually have its own website, where guests can make reservations and see a price list.

The bed and breakfast, once opening, will be open on weekends so the Smock's can continue their full-time jobs in Indianapolis. The business will be open more once they retire from their full-time jobs.

The bathtub inside the Wine Cellar guest bedroom has been a popular favorite among those who have taken tours of the Clayshire Castle, according to Mary Jo Smock. [Order this photo]
Upstairs, a library sits in the Clayshire Castle, including a balcony that looks out over the property. The Smock's plan to get ladders to go on the bookshelves. [Order this photo]

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How cool! Can't wait to see it!

-- Posted by bandmom_63 on Thu, Jul 5, 2012, at 7:57 PM

How fantastic - Medieval enchantment. I guess that means you don't use conventional utensils. Should have lots of finger bowls. Look forward to their success.

-- Posted by captnwench on Thu, Jul 5, 2012, at 8:46 PM

Wow!Amazing! So very beautiful. I will be first in line. EXCITED.

-- Posted by sweetest thing on Thu, Jul 5, 2012, at 9:11 PM

FABULOUS!!! All it needs right now is a deer park. Later, add an armoury on the walls such as that at Warwick. Congratulations on such an enterprise.

-- Posted by wands on Thu, Jul 5, 2012, at 11:52 PM

Love it......a castle for my knight...for s night...cant wait...karen

-- Posted by morkids on Fri, Jul 6, 2012, at 12:30 AM

It needs a moat and a draw bridge. I am going to have to check this out.

-- Posted by MS660 on Fri, Jul 6, 2012, at 7:50 AM

very nice for clay county! great job on the decor and castle theme!

-- Posted by damahaba on Fri, Jul 6, 2012, at 11:00 AM

Love it and cannot wait to stay there when they open! I agree with the previous poster-they need a moat and drawbridge and of course, a dragon! Princess in distress, not necessary! :)

-- Posted by Moon on Fri, Jul 6, 2012, at 3:15 PM

Very nice indeed. Would love to stay there in the future or attend a wedding etc...

-- Posted by indianamama on Fri, Jul 6, 2012, at 3:49 PM

WOW! Totally awesome!!! Very interesting and very beautiful......certainly would bring people to little ol Bowling Green for special occasions! Kudos to the family who created such a beautiful castle !!!!

-- Posted by JaniLou on Fri, Jul 6, 2012, at 4:59 PM

How neat!! Where is this located in Bowling Green?

-- Posted by sixfoottown on Fri, Jul 6, 2012, at 10:34 PM


For those of you interested in arranging visits, weddings, etc. Stay tuned. Updates on the Castle are posted here by the owners.

-- Posted by Musica on Sat, Jul 7, 2012, at 2:24 AM

This looks great--Are you any relation to Tom and Maxine Smock from Brazil? They were friends of my parents--Paul and Dorothea Smith. Good luck.

-- Posted by pvanwagnen@yahoo.com on Sat, Jul 7, 2012, at 11:52 AM

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