As I write this post it is the 4th of July so happy Independence Day.
I think the only positive outcome of the COVID-19 lockdown, for me anyway is that I have discovered many places in my local area that I never knew existed. As my educational background is in American studies, I was super excited when I discovered Boston Castle and the connection that it has with America.
The castle is not a castle as such, it was built as a hunting lodge for Thomas Howard, the 3rd Earl of Effingham in the late eighteenth century.
The castle got its name from the Boston Tea Party of 1773, when colonists protested against the British crown for unfair taxation, throwing cases of tea into the sea.
Thomas served in the Coldstream Guards (the oldest continuously serving regiment in the British Army) and supported protests by the colonists in the USA. When Thomas’s regiment was ordered to America on active service, he resigned rather than support something that he did not believe in.
There is a lovely view from the castle towards Sheffield and the grounds of Boston Park are nice to take a walk around.
Bolingbroke Castle was one of three castles built by Ranulf de Blundeville, Earl of Chester and Lincoln, in the 1220s after his return from the Crusades (the others being Beeston Castle, Cheshire, and Chartley, Staffordshire). After Blundeville’s death, the castle remained in the ownership of the Earls of Lincoln and was later inherited through marriage by John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster.
During the English Civil War (1642–8), the castle became a defensible base for a Royalist garrison and was surrounded by armed Parliamentarian forces in 1643. The Royalists surrendered that winter, and the entire castle was destroyed. The remains of the castle gradually deteriorated and in 1815 the last remaining structure fell. The site was a bumpy field until archaeologists excavated the site in the 1960s and 1970s.
Today, the castle is managed by English Heritage, entry is free and it is open year round and is easily accessible from the road. There isn’t much parking as it is located in a small village.
Conisbrough Castle is located just outside Rotherham in South Yorkshire and is managed by English Heritage. The original Castle was built by William De Warenne, the 1st Earl of Surrey who was the son-in-law of William the 1st (William the Conqueror) sometime in the 11th century . The castle passed to Isabel De Warenne in 1147, and the keep was built by her husband, Hamelin Plantagenet in the late 1170s or 1180s. The castle inspired Sir Walter Scott’s novel, Ivanhoe, published in 1819.
I did not visit, but the nearby Anglican Church of St Peter has stood in Conisborough since the 8th century, and is the oldest standing building in South Yorkshire.
Personally, I always prefer English Heritage places over National Trust, I think it’s because I find ruins more fascinating. I really enjoyed Conisbrough Castle. However, there are a few things to bear in mind if you plan on visiting. Firstly, the parking. I usually look in advance before I travel on what the situation is with parking, but this time I did not. When I arrived at the castle the signposts send you into a privately run car park. I parked up and got my little pot of car park change from my glove box that I keep for such situations. I went to find the machine, but there was not one in sight. The car park requires you to either download an app, or to call and pay by card. Bear in mind that parking is 50p an hour. I thought this seemed like a lot of faff for 50p. I tried scanning the QR code, like the sign said, but nothing happened, so I drove out of the car park and parked on a nearby street. I don’t usually like parking in residential areas as I’ve had bad experiences with people who don’t like you parking in front of their houses, even though you can park where you like as long as there are no parking restrictions, or you aren’t blocking anyone ones access, etc. But, often people get real funny about parking. Anyway, there is plenty of free on street parking, that isn’t outside anyone’s house, if you don’t mind a short walk to the castle. If the car park was English Heritage, I would have paid the money, but as it was a private company, I did not bother. I think this is a bad call from English Heritage. If people don’t have a mobile with them, I know my parents don’t always take their mobile phone out with them, how are you meant to pay? Or if you don’t take your bank card out with you, you can’t pay as there is no machine.
The other thing to consider at Conisbrough is that there are narrow stone stairs in the castle with no lift. If you are disabled or have push chairs, you might not be able to access the castle, but I would double check with English Heritage before you go.
Tattershall castle is located in Lincolnshire, close to the beautiful Woodhall Spa. I always like visiting this area as there is plenty of heritage, especially if you like the history of the RAF.
The original castle was built by Robert de Tateshale in around 1231. He was granted a licence by King Henry III in order to build a crenelated manor house. The castle was then passed to Ralph, 3rd Baron Cromwell sometime in the fifteenth century. Ralph became Lord Cromwell in 1433, and remodeled the manor into a more lavish home. It is said that half a million bricks were made at Edlington Moor Brickworks for the castle re-model.
Cromwell died, childless in 1456. I have found two versions of what happened to the castle after his death. One is that it was passed to his niece, Joan Bouchier. When Joan’s husband, Humphrey Bourchier changed sides during the war of the roses from the Yorkists to the Lancastrian cause, Yorkist King, Edward IV seized the castle on Bourchiers death. However, the National Trust website states that on Cromwells death, the castle passed into the Crown’s possession who subsequently granted it to loyal and familial subjects.
In 1573, the castle was purchased by Edward Clinton (Earl of Lincoln) and remained in their possession until 1693. It was then passed to the Fortescue family, who never lived at the castle and so let it decline. At one time, it was also used by farmers as a cattle shed.
In 1910, Tattershall and its contents were sold to a buyer in the USA (rumoured to be William Randolph Hearst). The sale included the contents which included the tapestries and fireplaces. However, in 1911, Lord Curzon purchased the castle and saved it from exportation and in August of 1914, the Castle was opened as a visitor attraction. The castle became the property of the National Trust when Lord Curzon died in 1925. (The Curzon family home of Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire is also property of the National Trust).
I visited the castle on Sunday the 27th of October. The castle had been decorated for Halloween as they had an event on for kids, which made it a little busy and noisy for my liking. There isn’t a great deal to see, you can do an audio tour if you want more information whilst you are walking around. If you are not a National Trust member, adult entry is £7.50 without gift aid. There is a small shop (the old gatehouse) selling the usual National Trust merchandise and small selection of cakes, overpriced sandwiches and hot drinks. I had a coffee and it wasn’t very nice if i’m honest.
My pictures did not turn out as good as I would have liked. The light was too bright and shadows too harsh. But I have done my best to edit them.