On Friday after doing some family history research at the pretty village of Aston-on-Trent we stopped off on our way home to visit Tutbury Castle. It was somewhere I'd wanted to visit for quite a while and I wasn't sure what to expect but it exceeded expectations and we really enjoyed our visit.
We'd often seen the ruined towers on the hill but hadn't realised that the castle and the area around it had such a rich history. There had been settlements on the castle site from early times but the first Motte and Bailey castle was built just after the Norman Conquest by Hugh D'Averanche. Soon after it came into the hands of the de Ferrers family until it was destroyed during the reign of Henry II. It was rebuilt in stone later in the 12th century.
Later in its history the castle became the property of John of Gaunt, 3rd son of Edward III, on his marriage to Blanche of Lancaster. In the 15th century it was owned by Margaret of Anjou wife of Henry IV. Other visitors over the years were Henry VIII and James I, whose mother...
Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned here several times throughout the years of her captivity during the reign of Elizabeth I and in 1645 Charles I and his nephew Prince Rupert stayed here during the time of the Civil War. The fireplace below is said to date from about that time.
The Castle is owned by the Duchy of Lancaster and has been much researched and refurbished over the last few years. From the towers - yes, I did climb up and down them both and my knees know about it this weekend - there are commanding views of the surrounding countryside below
the river Dove meanders by a farmer's field.The Nestle Coffee factory in the valley at nearby Hatton where they make Nescafe and Dolce Gusto coffees.
and the town of Tutbury which is, of course, famous for its glass industry. Unfortunately the Tutbury Crystal factory closed three years ago.
In the towers there is a lot of graffiti - much of it from the early 19th century. The inscription above says B Crighton 74th Regiment 1818.
The castle has many events each year things like music festivals and historical re-enactments, and also holds wedding services, civil partnerships and hand fasting ceremonies. You can have these by torchlight at midnight if required but the one being held at 3.30p.m. on the day we visited was apparently a medieval style wedding and the couple were from Australia.
The castle also has 'Tea with the Queen' when you can have a cream tea and listen to a talk by the curator who dresses as either Mary, Queen of Scots or Elizabeth I wearing the costumes above.