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A Medieval Wonder
Tattershall Castle (Lincoln)
Member Name: arnoldhenryrufus
Tattershall Castle (Lincoln)
Advantages: A Step back in time
Disadvantages: Sadly can only cater for the able bodied
For our holiday last year we opted for Lincolnshire to settle with our caravan for a couple of weeks, we had a lovely time travelling most days visiting the various Castles and Stately Homes that Lincolnshire has to offer. About half way through our holiday we had a very rainy day, so we decided that we would not travel far from base and as we still had loads of places to see during our stay, we could not afford to loose the day; Tattershall Castle became our destination.
~~ A Little History ~~
The first castle on this site was started in 1231 by the young Robert de Tateshale. There is not much left of the original castle apart from the basic layout which determined its shape which is very distinctive over the years.
In the early 15th century Tattershall Castle was passed to Ralph, 3rd Baron Cromwell who later became the Lord Treasurer to Henry VI. With his new found status he went on to improve the castle and built a 33.5m Great Tower.
This medieval castle went on to be owned by the kings of England from Edward IV to Henry VIII. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the Earls of Lincoln occupied the castle until 1693 when the castle became empty and stayed that way slowly decaying with the natural elements.
Around 1910 chimney pieces and fire places were torn down and sold to the USA and in 1913 Lord Curzon stopped this by buying the castle; he managed to get the fireplaces back and he carefully started to restore the building and reinstated the original chimney pieces. Due to Lord Curzon’s love of old buildings Tattershall Castle was saved, but not only that, the government also took an interest in Britain’s Ancient Monuments and the National Trust was founded. Lord Curzon bequeathed the Castle to the National Trust on his death in 1925.
~~ Our Visit ~~
As we approached Tattershall village our eyes were scanning the roads looking for the brown tourist information signs to point us in the right direction; I was just studying the map when my hubby saw the tower in the distance standing proud above all the shops and houses.
Within a few minutes we had reached our destination, it was well signposted and parking was alongside a small Norman Church, The Holy Trinity. Disabled parking is only a few hundred yards closer and is n between the church and the castle.
We paid our fee and walked to the small building which is the Gatehouse; this is now the Gift Shop and small café where you can get tea\coffee or a soft drink. The seating area is up a wooden staircase; this area also is advertised as a small museum, which was in my opinion a little disappointing as a museum. There was a small scale model of the castle, moat and surrounding grounds; books and information sheets were available for you to look at providing you with a little history. Maybe, it is not my idea of a museum but I was hoping to see some historic relics apart from my hubby that is.
You can get an audio tour guide from the gift shop to take with you around the castle, looks a little like an old large mobile phone, or you can just grab a guide book for the princely sum of £3.50.
We purchased our guide book and walked through the heavy rain to cross the wooden bridge that spanned the now empty moat towards the castle; it was only a short walk to the castle entrance approx 200-300 yards.
From the outside it looked spectacular with it orangey-brown brick work; the main building form the outside is in fantastic condition considering how old it is. So, facing the front of the building we were faced with 3 archways and the choice of which one to enter first. We opted for the door on the right which took us to the Parlour (kitchen area), we were very surprised here as it was just an empty room with lots of little tiny rooms off it; it was at this stage that I wished we had picked up the audio guide, but it was raining too hard to ask my hubby to run back to the shop to get one.
So it was now that we had to rely on our trusty guide book, opening it up I found out a tiny bit of information about the beautiful stone fireplace and the stained glass windows. We left the parlour and went for the centre archway which led us down a stone staircase to the basement, be careful here as it has a very low ceiling, I am 5ft 5in and I only just cleared it, my poor hubby being 6ft 2in had to duck to get inside. Again, this room was devoid of any furnishing.
The book only gives us limited information saying that this, dark dank room would most probably been used by the servants and for storage of food. The book states there are torches for you use as there are only two very small windows letting in very little light; we did not find any torches on our visit to use. I have to say that the aumbries (wall cupboards) looked big enough for someone to sleep in, silly me even thought that one of the servants may get their head down in one.
We leave this room and take the last archway which takes us to the winding staircase that goes to all the floors. I was very impressed that the trust had repaired the worn down stone steps making them safe to go up and down on. The staircase was also wide enough for someone to squeeze past you and has an inlaid stone handrail to help you keep your balance.
The first floor took us to the Great Hall again devoid of furniture and with its beautiful ornate fireplace with its various carvings of Cromwell’s Treasurer’s Purse and Coat of Arms as well of those of his ancestors. On this floor you find in one of the side rooms there are large posters on one of the walls telling you a little of the history of the room and a detailed drawing showing you how the room would have been used. Not as good as seeing the room ‘staged’ but the next best thing. It was from these information sheets that we discovered that one of the little rooms coming off each floor was a Garderobe (also known as the latrine or toilet as we know today). The diagram shows how it worked in those days; I can only say that it must have been very smelly.
There was no where to sit and rest on the first floor.
On the second floor we were presented with a little bit more, a tiny bit of 15th and 16th century oak chests and tables; and four wonderful tapestries hanging on the walls. There were benches along the window bays for you to sit and catch your breath. This floor also donned the one and only guide in the castle, it also had some period costumes for children to dress up in. This was also the only floor to have a corridor linking the one side of the building to the other. The other floors you could only get to the stairway by going through the main room. This floor held the Audience Chamber, hence the reason for the corridor (it is where you waited to have an audience with).
The third floor took us to the Private Chamber where Lord Cromwell may have slept; again this hosted a wonderful chimney piece decorated with Coats of Arms; the exhibition boards gave us a little insight to how this room may have been used.
The fourth floor is the roof which was replaced to protect the lower floors by Lord Curzon in the early 1900’s making a large square courtyard effect. The views from the windows are spectacular and well worth the climb. You go up a couple more stairs which are now very narrow and there is one-way traffic only in operation to take you to the battlements. It is worth going to the top for the magnificent views and photo opportunities of a beautiful lake and a very pretty Norman Church.
~~ Value for Money ~~
To me we managed to get value for money because I managed to get to the top, as I am partially disabled and need a stick to walk, so I was pleased. Although it was nice seeing the castle in the ‘raw’ it would have been nice to see a little staging as not everyone has the imagination to look at all that empty space and imagine what it was like.
~~ Prices ~~
I believe National Trust member get in free with their membership cards.
Audio guides are free.
~~ How to get there ~~
Come off the A155 Lincolnshire and head towards Sleaford.
~~ Finally ~~
If you are in a wheelchair and unable to climb the stairs then this castle is definitely a no-no, there is no wheelchair access, and really no grounds as such for you to go around either.
Thank you for reading
Summary: A step back to medieval times and still standing,
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