Featured image of Ashby de la Zouch Castle

The History of Ashby de la Zouch Castle

LocationAshby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire, England (Google Map)
Open for VisitorsYes
Owned byEnglish Heritage
Rooms AvailableNo

Ashby de la Zouch Castle is a ruined fortress located in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, England. Originally constructed in Norman times, this castle was the property of the Zouch family until the 14th century, when it was passed to Lord Hastings and was transformed into a castle. Since the 21st century, the castle has been managed by the English Heritage and protected under UK law as a Grade I listed building. Ashby de la Zouch Castle is open for the public to explore its stone architecture and deep history.

History

The Ashby de la Zouch Castle location was originally occupied by a small fortified manor house built during the Norman Invasion. The location was known as Ascebi during that time. As per Domesday Book, in 1086, the property was owned by the Earl of Leicester at that time. Later, the location was granted to the La Zouch family, from whom the castle took its last name. The family made many modifications to the castle during this time.

In 1455, the Wars of Roses broke out in England, during which many estates of Lancastrian, including the Manor of Ashby de la Zouch, were seized by Edward IV. At that time, William Lord Hastings was the favourite of Edward IV, and he gave Ashby de la Zouch estate to Lord Hastings in 1462. He converted the Manor into a castle and soon started using it as his primary residence. From 1471 to 1474, he made numerous transformations to the castle and added new buildings, including castle towers.

The Ashby de la Zouch Castle was passed to William’s son Edward Hastings in the 16th century. Post that, it was inherited by his son, George, who rebuilt many parts of the castle with bricks and redesigned the gardens. Similarly, the castle stayed with the family for generations. However, by 1634, the family started facing difficulties while managing it.

In 1642, the English Civil War broke out. Henry Hastings, the castle owner at the time, joined the Royalists and used the Ashby de la Zouch Castle as his base of operations. The family suffered from financial issues, and Ferdinando, the castle’s current owner, was imprisoned for debt in 1653. By the end of the 17th century, the Ashby castle was poorly damaged and required repairs. Despite it all, The castle remained with the family.

In 1789, Francis Hastings, the current owner, died, and Francis Rawdon inherited the castle. His agents repaired the ruins of the castle and opened it for visitors. The repair and remodelling work continued in the castle throughout the 19th century. In 1912, the Rawdon family gave the castle to the government for further repairs because repairing work was costly. In 1932, the castle was placed under the guardianship of the Ministry of Works, which carried out further repairs. Since the 21st century, the English Heritage has managed the Ashby castle and is open to the public.

Architecture

Ashby de la Zouch Castle
Ashby de la Zouch Castle, by DeFacto, is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Ashby de la Zouch Castle is made up of sandstone. The rained manor house we see today on the site is at least 1100 years old. It includes two large towers and associated buildings. It is believed that Lord Hastings wanted to build this castle with four large towers that surrounded the interior building that worked as the curtain walls. However, half of these towers were never added to the castle’s structure after his death.

The unique design of Ashby de la Zouch Castle is considered “an outstanding example of a late medieval castle” by historians. The castle’s site includes a kitchen tower in the northwest corner. It had only two storeys and was 34 feet tall. It was designed using yellow sandstone. Above the kitchen, there was a large winter parlour room. One of the walls of this tower fell in 1648, but you can still explore its structure.

The castle’s great hall had the original medieval feel, but it was reroofed in the 17th century. The Great chamber in the castle was originally a two-storey building. The large chapel, built of grey sandstone, is located along with the Great chamber. It was originally 60 by 21 feet tall. The Great Tower was a 75 feet tall structure made of grey sandstone. The ground floor contained the basement and a massive entranceway. Visitors can climb the Ashby castle and check out the structures, even though they are massively damaged. There is a great view from the top of the castle.

They spread on 60 acres of land and include two sunken areas and Ashby de la Zouch castle abbey. Now, the land is filled with greenery. Ashby de la Zouch Castle parking is disabled onsite; all other visitors can get parking in the town car parks and come and explore the castle’s structure and dramatic history.

Frequently Asked Quetions

Who lived at Ashby de la Zouch Castle?

Ashby de la Zouch Castle was built by William Lord Hastings in the 14th century. The Hasting family used the castle as their seat and lived in it for several generations.

What is Ashby de la Zouch famous for?

Ashby de la Zouch Castle became famous when Sir Walter Scott featured it in his novel named Ivanhoe in 1819. This novel was very popular, and it made the castle very famous.

Have you visited this castle before? If yes, why not share some beautiful pictures with us!
You can email us your pictures of the castle at castrumtocastle@gmail.com. Please use the name of the castle in the subject line.
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