Ashby de la Zouch Castle…
ASHBY de la ZOUCH CASTLE
Not a great deal remains of Ashby de la Zouch Castle but it would be wrong to blame Cromwell for all the destruction. Like most of England’s Castles there success and failure depended greatly upon the relationship between the owner and the Monarch of the time.
Ashby Castle was built by William Lord Hastings. Hastings was the head of an already a wealthy Leicestershire Family and in the early 1400’s he was granted a licenses by Edward IV, to fortify both this site at Ashby and one nearby at Kirby Muxloe. Whilst the Castle was built as a fortification it was also designed to show off Hastings wealth. Tall Towers dominated the Castle and Great Halls were incorporated for Grand Entertainment when he would be able to show off his wealth.
But as so often happened in English History the King died and the new rule looked on those who had strong political links to the previous King as possible trouble makers and most likely Traitors. So in 1483 Lord Hastings lost his head.
His family continued to occupy the site at Ashby. But then again politics once again had a direct bearing upon the Castle. At the start of the Civil War the Hastings family, under Lord Loughborough declared themselves supporters of the Royalist cause under Charles I. However the force of the Parliamentarians prevailed and after some time under siege the Castle surrendered in 1646 and was later destroyed.
After that the Castle faded largely into obscurity. The town of Ashby continued to grow and no doubt some of the stones from the Castle were robbed to help the towns building.
Then a quirk of fate put Ashby de la Zouch onto the ‘tourist map’ all as a result of Sir Walter Scott and his famous novel ‘Ivanhoe’ and his description of a Tournament of Knights in which he used Ashby as the setting…..so Tourist came to view the Castle remains.
The Castle remained largely untouched until in the early 1900’s the then Ministry of Works undertook remedial work to preserve what was left. The Ruins are now in the care of English Heritage.
Worth exploring as is the Town of Ashby itself.
(C) David Oakes 2015