We were between international fairs and decided to drive towards the east coast for the day. We wanted to visit Tattershall Castle. We’d driven by before and, this time, we were determined to stop. Tattershall Castle is a tall imposing structure made of red bricks. Not exactly the picture that flashes in your mind when you hear the word “castle”. It’s more of a fortified tower house (a giant keep), not a castle used as a fortress.
It was built as a private residence for Lord Cromwell, the Lord Treasurer to King Henry VI in 1434, taking 13 years to complete. This is not the Cromwell from the Civil War, Commonwealth and Protectorate. It was built on the site of a stone castle, built two centuries earlier. Now, it is owned by the National Trust. It is set right beside the A153 in the town of Tattershall, about 30 miles from the North Sea coast.
After parking, we strolled past the Holy Trinity Church and the almshouses (we’ve shown these photos on Instagram), crossed the first moat and stopped in at the guardhouse to purchase tickets and pick up our headsets (which we didn’t use).
What’s left of the castle is a red brick keep, a tall tower (crazy tall) that’s been around for 550 years, some ruins and two moats. The keep is four stories high with a basement below and battlements above. All of the keep is opened to visitors. On each corner of the keep is a turret. One turret contains the spiral winding 149 stairs that take you from the ground floor up to the battlements. It’s the widest spiral staircase we’ve ever encountered. A separate, smaller staircase takes you into the basement.
On each of the four floors is one ginormous room and then the other three turrets contain smaller rooms for the guards and bathrooms. In the large open chambers are where the family lived and conducted their business. Each floor has a massive fireplace that dominates the room. The higher you go up in the tower, the more impressive the Fireplaces and rooms. Decorated with strained glass, carvings, and painted ceilings. It’s important to note, that while the family’s servants shared the common rooms with the family, the family did not enter the basement nor the ground floor. The family did not mix with the locals. The kitchens were located in another building that no longer exists.
Tattershall Castle was built on high ground, though not on a hill or cliff. When we huffed and puffed up to the top battlements, we could see Lincoln Cathedral, as we looked northwest. Drive time between the two landmarks takes about 40 minutes. The day we were there was exceptionally windy and hazy, but we could still make out the cathedral. The family had Spectacular views, as they looked down.
There’s always something about a place that captures your imagination. We were fascinated that the castle was left empty from 1693 until 1914. Here’s this massive structure allowed to decay and it’s used as a stable for cows! The locals took stones away to built their own garden walls and buildings. During this period, visitors still came to view the romantic ruin. Even as a ruin, it must have been something to see.
It wasn’t until 1911 that Lord Curzon of Kedlestone decided it was a national treasure and must be saved. He was one of those titled English gentlemen that rich American girls wanted to marry. He married well (thank you America) and had enough money to save Tattershall Castle, Bodiam Castle and the Taj Mahal in India! At the time he bought the castle, a company had purchased it and had begun tearing it down. The four massive fireplaces had been sold to people in America and they were already removed and waiting on the shipping docks. Lord Curzon stepped in and pulled some important strings. Since the fireplaces were part of a national treasure, they were returned to the castle by horses and carts.
We hoped you enjoyed reading about our adventures in the midlands of England in October. Thanks for reading! And be sure to stop in the store and tell us your England stories. You might even find a special English antique to take home with you.