From The Neolithic To The Sea: A Journey From The Past To The Present

Ashby de la Zouch Castle

52° 44' 45.3" N 1° 27' 59" W

  • History
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  • Gallery
  • Gallery
  • Gallery
  • Gallery
  • Gallery
Ashby de la Zouch Castle is located in Ashby de la Zouch in Leicestershire. It is a Grade I listed building in the care of English Heritage.

The castle started life as a fortified manor house in the 12th century by Alain de Parrhoet la Zouch who came from Breton, France. The house was extended by his descendants until the la Zouch line died out in the 14th century. In 1461 the castle came into procession of the crown when the owner, James Butler 5th Earl of Ormonde, was executed after the battle of Towton.

In 1474, Edward IV gave the house to William, Lord of Hastings with a licence to crenellate. William soon started major work extending and improving the house, turning it into a castle. He built a keep, called Hastings tower which was about 90ft high. A great hall was built as well as a chapel and rooms used to entertain guests.

During the Civil war, the castle was a Royalist stronghold. In 1643 the fortifications of the castle were strengthened and it is thought that the tunnels were built at this time. The King made Henry Hastings the High Sheriff of Leicestershire and he was involved in several skirmishes with the parliamentarians in which he lost an eye to a pistol shot. The castle became a target and was under siege in late 1645 and they finally surrendered in March 1646. The castle was slighted by the parliamentary forces so it could not be used as a defensive position again.

After the civil war, the great hall was rebuilt but by the 19th century it was a ruin along with the rest of the castle. Sir Walter Scott made the castle famous by setting his 1819 novel Ivanhoe about the castle.