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Ashby de la Zouch Castle (Ashby-de-la-Zouch)

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Address: South St / Ashby-de-la-Zouch / Leicestershire / LE65 1BR / England

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      20.02.2009 20:23
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      A ruined castle brought to life with a great audio tour.

      Hubby and I went to Ashby-de-la-Zouche Castle because we were staying nearby on holiday. Our English Heritage annual membership tickets meant that we didn't have to pay any extra, so we thought we might as well have a quick look around this ruin, but we had a good couple of hours entertainment.

      *** History ***

      The first building on this site was a 12th century manor house, which was enlarged to a castle 300 hundred years later. Royal visitors that were entertained here include Henry VII, Mary Queen of Scots, James I and Charles I.

      During the Civil War this Royalist Castle was captured by the Parliamentarians in 1646. They then made sure that it would be of no more use to the Royalists by ruining it.

      The castle's more recent claim to fame is that it is where Sir Walter Scott set the jousting in his novel Ivanhoe.

      *** Audio Tour ***

      We were pleasantly surprised at how much entertainment this ruined attraction gave us. The audio tour made with local comic actors, whose banter was in the same vain as the "Men Behaving Badly" duo of Martin Clunes and Neil Morrissey, was both amusing and informative. There aren't any "rude" bits though, which makes it suitable for all the family.
      Visitors with a good imagination, like us, should enjoy this attraction with the help of this impressive audio tour which gives plenty of information about how different parts of the building would have once looked, important events that happened there and the variety of notorious characters that visited the site during its long history.


      *** Disabled Access ***

      Access to wheelchair users is not great, but most of the parts of the site that the audio tour directs you through are accessible to those capable of going over grassy slopes. We went during a rainy season and were pleased that plastic matting had been put over the muddiest, most slippery, parts of the route.

      Visitors who cannot use the audio guide will be pleased to know that there are plenty of information boards about. These give historical details well, but without the humour of the audio tour.

      Toilets, including those for the disabled, are situated next to the souvenir shop, at the entrance to the site.


      *** Prices and Transport Links ***

      Price which includes admission and individual audio tour:
      Adult £3.60, Child £1.90, Concession £2.90, Family Ticket £9.10
      English Heritage members are free.

      Open daily except 25, 26 Dec and 1 Jan.
      Occasionally special events are held here, such as the Summer Knights Trial. The English Heritage website has details of these.

      The nearest train station is 9 miles away at Burton on Trent. Arriva run bus services from the station.
      Car parking is in Ashby-de-le-Zouche town, which is 12 miles south of Derby on the A511. (There are plenty of signposts once you get near.)

      If you are disabled you could phone ahead and ask if you could have one of the limited spaces nearest to the castle.

      Tel: 01530 413343

      *** Recommendation ***

      I wouldn't go miles out of my way to visit these ruins, but we spent an enjoyable couple of hours here following the amusing audio tour, climbing up the 98 spiral stairs of the 75 foot Hastings Tower to see the views, and going down to explore the underground passageway between the tower and the kitchens.

      At least one dove seems to have made its home in the tower. We went by the nest carefully enough not to disturb it, but I could imagine that if it took flight, it could be mistaken for a ghost in this eerie setting.

      If you are in the area, I recommend that you take your imagination and enjoy the entertaining audio tour as it takes you back to the times when royalty visited.

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    • Product Details

      Built in the 15th century by the first Lord Hastings. The castle is an impressive ruin of a late medieval castle,