A Castle through the ages
Rockingham Castle is a real gem and is a grand example of a work commissioned by William the Conqueror. He ordered a motte and bailey castle to be built here in around 1070 and it still stands today, over 900 years later. This is the place to visit for a real historical experience. The Castle is owned and lived in by the Watson family who were granted it in 1544 by Henry VIII. The same family has lived there ever since, which is quite unique. The Castle was involved in the English Civil War and even has connections with Charles Dickens.
The Castle is protected by huge 13th century drum towers and the grounds show something from many eras. The house is mainly Tudor with an impressive collection of paintings from the 18th to 20th centuries. Charles Dickens was a friend of the family and there is a description of Rockingham Castle in Bleak House. David Copperfield was also dedicated to Richard and Lavinia Watson.
The Castle is located near the town of Market Harborough in Leicestershire. Visit Market Harborough for shopping, restaurants and many unspoiled Georgian buildings. Rockingham Castle overlooks the Welland Valley and has stunning views over 5 counties. For more information visit http://www.marketharborough.com/.
During the Civil War, the Castle was held by a garrison of Roundhead soldiers. Royalists attacked on several occasions but the Castle held. After the war, Cromwell made sure that the main defensive structures were destroyed so the Castle could not be held against Parliament.
There are 18 acres of gardens with the most famous feature being the ‘Elephant Hedge’. This is a 400 year old yew hedge that follows the line of the Norman motte and bailey. There is also a wild garden dating back to the 19th century.
It is a fine example of a building with many layers created over time. Much of the residence is Tudor enclosed with Norman castle walls. The gatehouse still stands and may have strengthened by King John. The inside of the house was mainly built by Edward I and the great hall remains as his centrepiece.