Part two of our outing last Saturday was a visit to Tamworth Castle. After our lunch at Middleton Lakes (see my last post) it was nearly 2.30pm. and we weren't at all sure if the castle would be open but we decided to park up and walk through the pleasure grounds towards the castle. Hurrah - it was open until 3.45p.m. so we had just over an hour to look around. In we went not sure what to expect. We weren't disappointed!
There is quite a bit of renovation and building work being carried out at the moment so some of the outside areas and the Norman displays were inaccessible. We made our way through the huge doors into the reception area. The first part of the building to see is the Medieval great hall.
It was very impressive but somehow the impact of it was lost as it was split into two by ropes as you go round the castle one way and come out on the opposite side of the ropes back into the great hall.
Upstairs next to the Tudor dining room.
The withdrawing chamber on the far side had been set out as a kitchen area.
Then we went up onto the next floor where there were Museum displays about the history of Tamworth from pre-historic times to the present day. It was nice to see that there were some pieces from the Staffordshire Hoard on display with some replicas of objects to show how the pieces would have been used as decoration. There is a wonderful exhibition on a much larger scale here in the Potteries Museum in the city centre at the moment and another similar one at Birmingham Museum which we saw earlier this year.
From this history displays we were able to go outside onto one of the walkways overlooking the chimneys of some of the roof structures.
Then it was up onto the roof of the tower where there were some wonderful views of the town
and a view of the walkway we had just walked over.
The castle was lived in as a family home for several centuries and much internal alteration has taken place to reflect the tastes of the time. A lot of these were done by Lord Humphrey Ferrers whose family owned the castle right through from the 15th to the 17th century. The bedroom above is a reflection of those times. This family left the castle in 1642 at the outbreak of the Civil War and it was garrisoned by a Royalist force where continual 'harrying' raids were carried out against the nearby Parliamentarian town of Lichfield. In 1643 the castle was under siege and was eventually captured by Parliamentarian forces and held by them for the rest of the war.
The Townshend family lived at the hall from 1714 until 1837 and the next rooms reflect these rather elegant times. It was difficult to take distance photos of the rooms as the sun was streaming through the windows so I've just honed in on a couple of things that caught my eye. I loved the blue of the glasses above against the pretty blue and white wallpaper.
As well as the detail in the bonnet above. There is an area near this display where you can try on various hats and wigs and a huge mirror to admire yourself in.
Above and below are Victorian rooms, above the nursery and below the rather grand panelled room which was used by the Cook family who were tenants of the Townshend family until they sold the castle in 1897 to the Tamworth Borough council for the sum of £3,000. A museum was opened there two years later.
We were surprised at how much there was to see inside the castle. The door you can see at the far end of the room leads down a staircase and back into the hall where we first entered.
At the end of the tour is a good little gift shop and an area with tables and chairs where you can have coffee/tea and biscuits. Not the table below, of course, set for afternoon tea with its central samovar.
An hour passed so quickly and it was soon time to leave and wander back to the car park through the pleasure gardens and by the river.