Belvoir Castle is a stately home in the county of Leicestershire. Belvoir, meaning beautiful view in French, dates back to Norman times. The English pronunciation sounds more like 'Beaver'. It was built up over many centuries through the inability of Anglo-Saxons to master the French tongue.
Belvoir Castle has been the home of the Manners family for five hundred years and is currently the family home of the 11th Duke and Duchess of Rutland and their five children. The present castle is the fourth to have stood on the site since Norman times. The existing castle was completed in the early 19th century after previous buildings suffered destruction during the Wars of the Roses, the Civil War and a fire in 1816.
Inside the castle one can find stunning interiors; the elegant Elizabeth Saloon, the majestic State Dining Room, the Regents Gallery and the Guard Room. There are many notable pieces of art and paintings (including Gainsborough and Holbein), furniture, tapestries and sculptures.
Belvoir was a royal manor until 1257, when it was granted to Robert de Ros. When the Ros family died out in 1508, it passed to George Manners, who inherited the castle and barony through his mother. His son was created Earl of Rutland in 1525, and the 9th Earl was created Duke of Rutland in 1703.
In the early 17th century the castle servants Joan, Margaret and Phillipa Flower were accused of murdering the 6th Earl's two young sons by witchcraft. Joan died while in prison and Margaret and Phillipa were hanged.
The castle, which sits in a vast estate of 15,000 acres, is open to the public. They offer a range of outdoor activites and they host exhibitions throughout the year.
Odd Fact: In August 2010 the castle's website was mistakenly hacked and taken over by an Algerian group who blanked the pages and inserted anti-Semitic texts in Arabic. The hackers had mistaken Belvoir Castle for Belvoir Fortress, which is located in Israel....
Groby Old Hall is partly a 15th-century brick-built manor house near the site of Groby Castle in Leicestershire.
The previous grand hall was probably built by the Ferrers family, Barons of Groby. The Hall and Barony passed by to the Greys after Sir Edward Grey married Elizabeth, granddaughter and heir to the 5th Baron Ferrers, around 1432. The Grey family's most known members were Elizabeth Woodville, Queen of England, and Lady Jane Grey.
Elizabeth married Sir Edward Grey's son John and moved to Groby, where they had two sons. After John's death in battle, 1461, she petitioned King Edward IV for return of her confiscated lands, and won not just her case but also his heart and hand in marriage. Their daughter, also Elizabeth, married the victor of Bosworth Field, Henry VII, thus uniting the houses of Lancaster and York to end the Wars of the Roses.
When Henry Tudor defeated Richard III in 1485, Elizabeth's son Thomas Grey started work on a new brick gatehouse on the same site as his ancestral manor, which later became part of what is now the 'Old Hall'. However, he expanded his plans by beginning the great red brick house in his hunting park at Bradgate which was completed by his son some time after his death in 1501 and this house became the home of the Greys for the next 240 years.
Groby Old Hall, which probably incorporates earlier remains, remained a key part of the Groby estate. We do not know the exact year when the former grand hall was demolished. The Crown eventually took over the Grey estates, and Groby Hall was reported as derelict and fit only for resale as building materials in 1577. Somehow it lived through the decades, in decay, after being vacated.
Gainsborough Old Hall in Lincolnshire is over five hundred years old and one of the best preserved medieval manor houses in England. The hall was built in 1460 by Sir Thomas Burgh. The Burghs were rich and powerful people and the hall demonstrated their wealth and importance.
In October 1483 Sir Thomas entertained King Richard III here. The King probably stayed the night at the hall on his way to London from York. Sir Thomas had won his confidence, sufficiently to have been made a knight of the Garter. However, after the visit he appears to have switched his allegiance to the King's opponent, Henry Tudor.
His great-grandson Sir Edward married Catherine Parr, who would later become the wife of Henry VIII and Queen of England, in 1529. The couple lived at Gainsborough for about a year. King Henry VIII visited the hall twice, in 1509 and again in 1541 with his fifth wife Katherine Howard, who was accused and executed of indiscretions supposedly committed both at this hall and at Lincoln Castle about 18 miles away.
Historical letters survive, suggesting that Henry VIII left Lincoln on 12th August to coincide with important Privy Council meetings, taking place in Gainsborough, on 14th,15th and 16th August. Popular belief is that the King and Queen slept in the upper bedchamber in the Old Hall’s Tower, but Henry’s medical condition (obesity, ulcerated legs) would have made climbing the narrow staircase rather difficult.
When the fifth Lord Burgh died without an heir, the hall was sold to a William Hickman, a London merchant, in 1596. He made many improvements. When a new house was built in 1720 on the edge of the town, the old hall became unoccupied. It remained in the family and continued being used for a variety of purposes; it has been used as a pub, masonic temple and a theatre. Architecturally, it hasn't changed much over the years. Those who will climb the fifty nine steps of the brick tower will have a lovely view of Gainsborough town. The elaborate timber roof and the medieval kitchen both survive. The kitchen still contains original features, such as the fireplaces and bread ovens.
From 1949 the house was looked after from 1949 by a volunteer group; The Friends of the Old Hall, who saved the building. Sir Edmund Bacon gave it to the nation in 1970 and it is now owned by English Heritage and is open to the public as a museum.
Samples of timber from the Great Hall suggest the trees used in the construction were felled between 1454 and 1485. The West Range that stands today was probably constructed sometime after 1470 with later additions, such as the brick tower, completed in the 1480s. It is believed the manor was originally surrounded by orchards and hunting grounds, all belonging to the Burgh family.
William Hickman and his mother Rose offered support to the Separatist congregation. Some of these Separatists went on to form the group of Pilgrims who sailed for America on the Mayflower.
Lincoln Castle is a castle constructed by William the Conqueror on the site of a former Roman fortress in the city of Lincoln during the late 11th century. The major castle is unusual, because it has two mottes, and is one of the most impressive Norman castles in the United Kingdom. It remained in use as a prison and law court into modern times, and is one of the better preserved castles in the country. It is open to the public. Lincoln castle remains one of the most impressive Norman castles in the United Kingdom. A walk around the Norman walls provides a magnificent view of the castle complex, the cathedral, the city, and the surrounding countryside.
For a number of years after his victory at the Battle of Hastings, William the Conqueror's position was very insecure. In order to project his influence in the north of England, he constructed a number of major castles at Warwick, Nottingham and York. It was at this time that the new king built major castles at Warwick, Nottingham, York, and finally Lincoln, which was one of the country's major settlements at the time and connected several important routes. Work on the new fortification was completed in 1068.
|View of Lincoln Cathedral from the Gatehouse|
The castle was the focus of attention during battles in the city on a few occasions. The prison Gaol was built in 1787 and extended in the 1840s. The 19th century hangman, William Marwood, carried out his first execution at Lincoln. He used the long drop, designed to break the victim's neck rather than to strangle him, to execute Fred Horry in 1872. Until 1868, prisoners were publicly hanged on the mural tower at the north-east corner of the curtain wall, overlooking the upper town. In the castle grounds are the graves of those executed there for various crimes. They have markers featuring the initials of the condemned and the date of death.
An attraction offered at the castle is the opportunity to see one of the four surviving originals of the Magna Carta, sealed by King John after his meeting with the Barons in 1215. Parts of the prison are also open as a museum, including the 19th century chapel, with the coffin like pews which were there to remind prisoners of their fate and to ensure that they could not see each other.
|An oriel window moved from Sutton Hall and incorporated into the main gate.|
It is now owned by Lincolnshire County Council and is a scheduled ancient monument. In 2012, a three-year programme of renovation began at the castle, which involves creating a new exhibition centre in which to display Magna Carta. The scheme is due to be completed in April 2015, to coincide with the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta.
Fotheringhay Castle, Northamptonshire, was probably founded around 1100 by Simon de Senlis, Earl of Northampton. Possession of the castle descended through Scottish princes until the 13th century, when it was confiscated by King John of England. It remained in royal possession until the reign of Edward II. It was a favoured residence of the Dukes of York, and King Richard III was born here in 1452, the eleventh child of his parents.
Fotheringhay was a large motte and bailey castle. The large motte, topped with a polygonal stone keep, was surrounded by a water-filled moat. Visitors today will often find canal boats docked on the sleepy river beside the castle site. During Richard’s time, the river would have been humming with activity. The windows might have been ornamented by a falcon enclosed in a fetterlock, which was an emblem for the House of York. Fotheringhay Castle remained a favoured residence of the family after Richard's death. Cecily often entertained guests there and in 1469 Elizabeth Woodville, Edward IV's queen, resided at the castle.
Mary, Queen of Scots, spent her final days at Fotheringhay where she was tried and convicted of treason, after 18 years of imprisonment. Mary was only given the verdict the day before her execution, and spent her final night praying in the castle's small chapel. She was beheaded on a scaffold in the castle's great hall on 8 February 1587.
By 1635, less than 50 years after Mary's execution, it was reported to be in a ruinous state. It was dismantled and most of the masonry removed, leaving only the earthworks. The castle site is protected as a Scheduled Monument and is open to the public.
The building and gardens are owned by The Earl of Winchilsea, and managed by English Heritage.
Rockingham Castle is a former royal castle and hunting lodge in Rockingham Forest, Northamptonshire.
The strong defensible location on which the castle stands has been used since the Iron Age. William II replaced a former wooden motte and bailey at Rockingham with a stone castle. It was then used as a royal retreat throughout the Norman and Plantagenet periods. Nearby Rockingham Forest was especially good for hunting wild boar and deer.
Edward III was the last monarch to visit the castle while it was possessed by The Crown. By the late 15th century Rockingham Castle had fallen into disrepair. Sir Edward Watson acquired the lease of the castle from Henry VIII and parts of the castle were subsequently replaced with a Tudor house and gardens. The former royal castle became a hunting lodge for the nobility.
The castle was a popular haunt of writer Charles Dickens who was a great friend of Richard and Lavinia Watson, ancestors of the current family. The Castle is arguably the inspiration for Chesney Wold in Bleak House, one of his greatest works.
Nottingham Castle is located in a commanding position on a natural promontory known as Castle Rock. In the Middle Ages it was a major royal fortress and occasional royal residence. It was in decline by the 16th century and largely demolished in 1649, with the Duke of Newcastle later building a mansion on the site. The mansion was burnt out by rioters in 1831 and left as a ruined shell. It was later adapted into an art gallery and museum. Little of the original castle survives, but sufficient portions remain to give an impression of the layout of the site.
For centuries the castle served as one of the most important in England for nobles and royalty alike. It was known as a place of leisure, being close to the royal hunting grounds The castle also had its own deer park, which is still known as The Park.
While King Richard I of England ("Lionheart") was away on the Third Crusade, Nottingham Castle was occupied by supporters of Prince John, including the Sheriff of Nottingham. In the legends of Robin Hood, the castle is the scene of a final showdown between the Sheriff and the hero outlaw. A historic battle took place at Nottingham castle in March 1194. It was the site of a decisive attack when King Richard besieged the castle, after constructing some of the same types of siege machines he had used on the crusade. The castle surrendered after a few days.
Shortly before his 18th birthday King Edward III staged a coup d'état at Nottingham Castle, with the help of a few trusted companions, against his mother Isabella of France and her lover, Roger Mortimer. Both were acting as Regents during his minority following their murder of his father Edward II at Berkeley Castle. In the dark of night on 19 October 1330, William Montagu and his companions entered a secret tunnel with the help of the castellan and overseer of Mortimer's castle.
They climbed up to a door in the castle, which had been unlocked by Edward or a servant, killed Mortimer's guards and overpowered him. Mortimer was arrested, along with Isabella. He was sent to the Tower of London and hanged a month later. The Queen mother was forced into retirement at Castle Rising in Norfolk. Edward III's reign began. He used the castle as a residence and on a few occasions, as a prison. In 1346 King David II of Scotland was held prisoner, and in 1376 Peter de la Mare, speaker of the House of Commons, was confined in the castle for having 'taken unwarrantable liberties with the name of Alice Perrers, mistress of the king'. From 1403 until 1437 Nottingham Castle was the main residence of Henry IV's queen Joan, but after this, maintenance was reduced.
|Castle Rising, Norfolk, where the Queen Mother Isabella was forced to retire.|
During the reign of King Henry VII the castle remained a royal fortress. Henry VIII ordered new tapestries for the castle before he visited in August 1511. By 1536 Henry had the castle reinforced and its garrison increased from a few dozen men to a few hundred.
The Constable reported in 1538 on the need for maintenance. The castle eventually ceased to be a royal residence and was largely rendered obsolete in the 16th century by artillery. After the English Civil War and the execution of Charles I in 1649, the castle was dismantled to prevent it being used again.
The present 'Ducal Mansion' was built by Henry Cavendish, 2nd Duke of Newcastle, between 1674 and 1679 on the foundations of the previous structure. Some rock cut cellars and a long passage to the bottom of the rock, known as Mortimer's Hole, through which guided tours take place, still remain. The coming of the Industrial Revolution left Nottingham with the reputation of having the worst slums in the British Empire outside India, and it lost its appeal. Residents of the slums rioted in the early 1830s and burned down the mansion.
The mansion remained a derelict shell until it was restored in 1875. It was opened in 1878 by the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, as Nottingham Castle Museum. The gatehouse of the medieval castle and much of the walling of the outer bailey was retained as a garden wall for the Ducal Mansion.
On Christmas Day 1996 a leaking water main caused a landslip. 80 tonnes of earth and retaining wall from the Restoration terrace next to the Mansion fell to the bottom of the Castle rock. This revealed remains of the original castle foundations and the bedrock.
|Nottingham Castle Museum, the secret tunnel and buildings below|