Welcome to Tattershall Castle which we visited on Saturday, and as the guide book mentions you are now looking at the finest medieval brick built castle in England. Built in 1434 by Ralph Lord Cromwell, who was Treasurer to Henry VI. The first castle on the site was built in 1231 by the 2nd Robert de Tateshale who had a licence to build a stone fortified house or castle at Tattershall. In 1434 to 1446 Sir Ralph rebuilt the castle in brick and enlarging the buildings with a keep, stable, gatehouse and kitchens. When Sir Ralph died, having no direct heir, the castle passed through many royal hands and in 1693 the Earls of Lincoln were the last people to live in the castle.
Now it gets interesting……..from 1694 to 1910 the castle was abandoned, left to become derelict and ruinous. It became the ‘Romantic Ruin’ and visited by many tourists on a day out, not dissimilar to our visit on Saturday. A farmer had bought the castle for the land to grow crops and used the castle as a cattle shed. The following photos are from a display in the castle and I think they are from this time period.
In 1910 the castle was sold to an American consortium. The fireplaces were ripped out, to be shipped over to an American collector and the castle was to be demolished. When I read that….demolished, how could that have got even that far, but it happened in those day……but not to this castle, as a hero stepped in to save it….Lord Curzon of Kedleston visited the castle and within 24 hours had purchased the castle by telegram and then set about restoring it. He even found the fireplaces at Tilbury docks and returned them to Tattershall after a huge procession through the village. There followed a period of restoration and you can see from the following photos some of the work which was carried out.
So we have the wonderful Lord Curzon to thank for still being able to visit the castle, which he open to the public in 1914 four days after the announcement of the First World War and it stayed open all throughout the conflict. In 1925 Lord Curzon died and the castle was bequeathed to the National Trust. The castle closed for a short time during the 2nd World War and was home to the Home Guard, at the end of the war Tattersahll Castle opened its doors once more and has stayed open ever since. But how different the out come could have been, but because of Lord Curzons efforts to save the castle ‘The Ancient Monuments Act’ was passed. This act meant the state could protect any monuments deemed important and prosecute anybody attempting to damage them.
Last visit to the castle will be the interior, with the remarkable nearly lost fireplaces.