After our visit to Canons Ashby we were looking for somewhere to visit to break up our drive back to Nottingham and decided that Rockingham Castle was the perfect choice. It’s still a family home and is only open on certain afternoons throughout the year, so always check the website and pre-book tickets (adult £14.00) if you plan to visit. It’s also worth noting that photography is not allowed inside the building itself.
The castle was built on the orders of William the Conqueror, to be used as both an administration centre – controlling passage along an important south-north road – as well as a popular base for hunting. Originally built along the typical Norman designs it was expanded and modernised during the late 13th century.
As power gradually moved towards London the castle fell into decline and though kings still visited – including Henry VIII and his then wife Catherine Howard – it was no longer seen as quite as important as it had been. So it was leased in 1544 to Edward Watson, the descendants of whom still live in the house.
You access the castle through an easily followed self-guided tour and it does reveal some remarkable rooms and objects, including letters from Charles Dickens who was a friend of Richard and Laurie Watson and performed in several plays at the castle. The house in Bleak House is also based in part on Rockingham Castle.
It’s a really interesting place to visit and entry includes access to beautiful gardens and a church, both of which will feature in upcoming posts. You can find some more photos here.