This impressive castle, Baconsthrope, is intimately linked to the dramatic rise and fall of a single family, the Haydon’s who lived here for 200 years. The day we visited was freezing cold, back on the 31st Dec 2013, no one else was around just us, everyone else was tucked up warm, which is good for me as no bodies in shots. So we were able to have a good wander around and explore this interesting site. Although it called a castle, the building is really a Manor House begun in the 1450’s by John Heydon and in 1561 it was fortified. Sir John Heydon probably built the strong inner gatehouse during the turbulent Wars of the Roses period, and his son Sir Henry completed the fortified house. In more peaceful times, their descendants converted part of the property into a textile factory, and then added the turreted Elizabethan outer gateway, inhabited until 1920.
The outer gatehouse was a late addition to the moat residence beyond, it was built as part of an impressive entrance to the castle as the outer court. The Heydon’s were an ambitious family and made their money first from the law and then later through the wool trade. However their splendour was short lived, having accumulated large debts, the family were forced to sell parts of the castle in 1650 as building materials. After demolition of the main castle, the gatehouse was converted into a private dwelling. It was occupied until 1920 when one of the towers collapsed.
An engraving of 1782 showing the gatehouse when it was stilled inhabited with the ruined castle beyond.
Now for the really interesting bit…..its haunted. It seems that one former resident stayed behind, to guard the castle. Many visitors have heard the sound of plopping, and it would seem that a former soldier still patrols the battlement and lobs stones into the moat, breaking the normally still waters. Visitors have looked up and have seen the ghost, but his identity remains a mystery. I didn’t feel or hear anything thing at the time we visited, but then it was so cold, that I would not have even noticed.
The large Keep Gatehouse was built in by John Heydon in the 1450’s and was the fist building of the grand courtyard which covered at least half of the present site.