Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Red Brick Castle

I mentioned Kirby Muxloe to someone the other day and he said 'Oh, yes, the red brick castle'.  I always used to think of Tattershall Castle in Lincolnshire with those words but Kirby Muxloe is most definitely a red brick castle too.

I had visited the castle many years ago in the 1980s and remembered it being surrounded by water but had forgotten it was built of brick and also that it was never completed as a building.

You can walk around the outside of the castle first taking in its structure and on the day we visited there were some lovely reflections in the water of the moat.

Above you can see the remains of the west tower and the gatehouse.  It was intended for a tower to be built in each corner of the construction, with domestic buildings in the centre of the outer walls which is where the old manor house used to stand.

The owner William, Lord Hastings (1430 -1483) began to rebuild a new and sumptuous residence on the site of the old manor house around 1480.  He was in favour and had power and influence at the court of  King Edward IV but his luck changed and he was executed in June 1483 by the new king Richard III.   In July of that year Richard III  issued a special grant to Hastings's widow Katherine and restored the family to its inheritance.  Katherine did continue for about a year with the building project but it gradually came to a close.  Had the building been completed Kirby Muxloe would have been one of the most advanced and fashionable fortified manor houses of its day.

The gatehouse is accessed by the bridge over the moat, it is modern but constructed in the style of the old one.

The entrance to the gatehouse is impressive, only the ground floor remains although you can access the next floor up it is open to the elements (see the photos below) but you can cross above the ceiling from one side to the other via spiral staircases.

One of the guard rooms in the base of the gatehouse, the other is used as the reception and shop by the custodians English Heritage.

You can see the door to one of the staircases on the left of the gatehouse. We went up via the stairs on the right and came down those on the left.

The ceiling of one of the spiral staircases,  I love the swirling brick patterns.

The remains of the room which would have been above the entrance to the gatehouse
 

  and across the two guard rooms below.
Back down the stairs on the opposite side.

There were lovely views across the centre of the castle area towards the moat and to the countryside beyond.  You can see the stone foundations of the earlier manor house in the grass below.

 
Looking upwards in the west tower

Nature was taking over.


 The opening hours for Kirby Muxloe are weekends only from May to September so it is very hard to catch it open we were lucky to be close by en route to Stoneywell (see my post of 8th September) so spent a pleasant hour here wandering around.

More information - here

22 comments:

  1. What a fabulous building. The photo of the brickwork on the spiral staircase is fabulous.
    Liz

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    1. Thank you, glad you enjoyed the photos:)

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  2. What a great place! Building a brick ceiling to a spiral staircase must be a tricky operation!

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    1. It must have been very tricky but the local building managed it didn't he? Still standing too:)

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  3. What an amazing building, I was so impressed by the brickwork on the staircase a feast for the eyes.

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  4. What fabulous photos, I love the ones in the stairwells with the moss and plants here and there and then there's the water and reflections all around! Definitely a great place to visit. :-)

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    1. It was quite magical on a warm, Sunday morning with the local church bells sounding in the background:)

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  5. I've never seen a red brick castle before - I had no idea such a thing existed!

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    1. There are a few across the UK but not many compared to the stone built ones we are more used to:)

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  6. So many castles, so little time! Interesting to see so much brick in a design that we're more used to seeing in stone - lovely - and lovely photos. Kirby Muxloe is definitely on ABAB's list. As John says above, it must have been interesting building the ceilings over spiral staircases - and the stairs themselves?

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    1. Yes, they must have been very tricky procedures, perhaps the owners paid well for such expertise? Hope you get to visit one day:)

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  7. Beautiful old red brick and such thick walls! I feel giddy just looking down the spiral staircase. I love to see the craftsmanship of the workers all those centuries ago. Great post Rosie! x

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    1. I felt giddy too at one point on those stairs but it was wonderful:)

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  8. What a fascinating place! I suppose this stands as a symbol of the rise and sudden fall of someone in power in the Middle Ages. When he was in favour, Hastings was able to build a state-of-the art, no doubt expensive castle but with his fall the project faltered overnight and never recovered.

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    1. Indeed, he was given permission to upgrade both this castle and his other one at Ashby de la Zouch, it just shows how precarious those rises to power were in those days:)

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  9. Interesting background information about Hastings and his widow and why the building work did not continue. It's still an impressive construction. I like the patterned brickwork on the wall in the photo mosaic and in the spiral staircase.

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    1. The darker patterns in the brickwork were fascinating, there is one with his initials WH but the sun was too bright and my photos were not good enough to show on here. A good excuse to return another day perhaps?:)

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  10. It's amazing how building materials total change the look and style of a castle. I remember seeing Kenilworth built of red brick and getting the sense of how over powering it was. The castles we are visiting at the moment are a lovely golden yellow sand stone, somehow making them lighter and more romantic looking. B X

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    1. Kenilworth is wonderful isn't it? Perhaps Kirby Muxloe might have been on a similar scale if events had been different. I always think that French castles seem softer and more romantic than our dour, grey stone and rather formidable ones over here:)

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  11. Lovely photos and such an interesting post. I don't think I have heard of Kirby Muxloe so it is another one to go on my list of places to visit. I really love the brickwork in the ceiling of the spiral staircase and the wonderful views :)
    ps sorry for late comment have been away for a few days and just catching up!

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    1. It is a lovely place and even on a Bank Holiday Sunday it was quiet, just a few folks and the church bells. Hope you enjoyed your few days away:)

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