|Location||Tamworth, Staffordshire, England (Google Map Location)|
|Open for Visitors||Yes|
|Owned by||Tamworth Borough Council|
|Official Website||Tamworth Castle|
The town of Tamworth is a site of immense historical significance. Situated at the intersection of the Anker and Tame Rivers, it was a chokepoint that was of strategic importance in the pre-modern era. Tamworth Castle is a magnificent structure in Tamworth, Staffordshire, with a history that spans hundreds of years. Situated at the mouth of the River Anker, the Castle’s architectural beauty is supplemented by the pleasant riverside setting. Tamworth Castle is open for tours and makes for an enriching visit, allowing one to become immersed in the site’s fascinating history. There are also several stories of ghosts being sighted in some parts of the Castle, making it a thrilling experience. The campus also has a Battle and Tribute exhibition house, entertainment area, and vast expanses of Castle grounds.
The first structure to be built at the site of Tamworth Castle was a fortification constructed by Offa, the King of Mercia, from 757-796 AD. Tamworth was made the capital of the Kingdom of Mercia by Offa, who built a royal palace and surrounded the nearby settlement with a rampart and ditch. The settlement was fortified by the River Tame and hence acquired the name Tamworth. In 874 AD, King Burgred of Mercia was attacked by the Danes and was forced to surrender the Eastern portion of his kingdom to the Danes, which included Tamworth. Eventually, several Anglo-Saxon territories were overrun by the Danes, leaving Wessex as the last Anglo-Saxon stronghold held by King Alfred.
A brief period of peace between the Danes and the Anglo-Saxons prevailed after King Alfred led Wessex to victory at the Battle of Edington in 878 AD. Meanwhile, King Alfred sought to boost his defences and converted Tamworth to a burh in 913AD. He gave his daughter Aethalflaed’s hand in marriage to Aethelred, the Lord of Mercia, merging the two dynasties and uniting the kingdoms. Aethalflaed is considered one of the most powerful female rulers of her time. She played an active role in ruling the kingdom alongside her husband and remained the sole ruler after his death, defending against Viking invaders. Aethalflaed stayed at Tamworth for a long time as it was an important power centre.
A full-fledged Castle was established at the site after the Norman invasion in 1066. William I granted the Tamworth Castle to Robert le Despenser, who is speculated to have built it. The Castle was then passed on to Robert Marmion, the hereditary Royal Champion to the King, and remained with his family for the next two hundred years. The Marmion family upheld Tamworth Castle’s status as a noble residency, hosting several royal guests, including Henry I in 1100 and Henry II in 1158.
Robert Marmion supported the rebels in the First Barons’ War (1215-17) after the Magna Carta- a peace treaty between the rebel barons and King John of England- failed to bring about peace. Tamworth Castle sustained minimal damage during the War after King John ordered it to be razed to the ground. Henry III visited in 1257, adding to the Castle’s list of notable guests.
In 1294, Tamworth Castle was granted to Sir Alexander de Freville, who served in the Wars of Scottish Independence and the Hundred Years’ War. The Second Lord Baldwin de Freville even hosted King Edward III at the Castle in 1330. In 1423, Tamworth Castle was passed on to Sir Thomas Ferrer, who made it his main residence and renovated it. The Ferrers had effectively transformed Tamworth Castle from a fortress to a grand Tudor home during their ownership. During the English Civil War, Royalists garrisoned Tamworth Castle until 1643, when the Parliamentarians besieged it and held it for the rest of the War. In 1715, the Castle was passed to James Compton, the Earl of Northampton, and then to George Townshend in 1786. Finally, the Tamworth Corporation purchased the Castle in 1897 and opened it to the public as a museum.
The first defences constructed by King Alfred consist of a turf-built rampart held by wooden framings and supported by a timber façade. A deep ditch constructed to fortify Tamworth Castle runs in front of the Castle wall. In the 11th century, while Tamworth Castle was under the ownership of Robert Despenser, several modifications were made. The construction of a mound topped with a timber palisade which created a Shell Keep was carried out during this period. The Shell Keep encloses several important buildings such as the Great Hall and royal accommodation. In the late 12th century, Tamworth Castle sustained some damage during the First Barons’ War. It was rebuilt in stone from the late 12th century, and the foundations were strengthened to accommodate the increasing weight of the newly built structures. The timber-tied Great Hall was built in 1437, replacing an earlier building, and was later modified in the 17th century by being faced with brick. Lord Humphrey also made some changes to Tamworth Castle, re-modelling it to reflect the high society of the time. George Townshend changed the Tudor bay windows of the Elizabethan wing with gothic-style windows.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who owns Tamworth Castle?
The first known fortifications were made by King Offa (757-796AD), who built a royal palace at Tamworth. The Marmion family occupied Tamworth Castle in the 11th and 12th centuries. The Freville family owned it in the 14th century, and the Castle was passed to the Ferrers in 1423. In 1897 it was purchased by the Tamworth Corporation.
Is Tamworth Castle available for booking?
Rooms can be booked at the Tamworth Castle Hotel. The Castle’s Great Hall can be booked for weddings and events.
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