Living Remnants of History Waiting To Be Explored

Open Heritage Days 2019; guest blog by Steven Tune, National Trust

In celebration of Open Heritage Days 2019, we invited cultural organisations from throughout the East Midlands to share the ways families can engage with their work throughout the national 10-day event. In first of this series, Steven Tune from Tattershall Castle writes about the significant impact this property has had on the conservation of historical sites throughout the country.

Tattershall Castle, looming over the Lincolnshire horizon in all its red brick splendour, has been a beacon of influence and power for over 500 years, and still retains the essence of might and majesty to this very day.

Originally built as a manor house in the 1200s, the site saw a wealthy member of the English nobility, Lord 3rd baron Cromwell, upgrade and expand this ancestral land he had acquired. As a prime position to very comfortably house and self-sustain his family and friends, visitors can still see the glorious remnants of the stables, kitchens and Guardhouse that he commissioned, along with the magnificent centrepiece, the six floor Great Tower, which is the heart of a visitors journey to this place of power and one of just three remaining red brick castles in the whole country.

With Lord Cromwell leaving no heir, the castle saw many subjects of the crown granted ownership, many of whom held sway over the country and still hold a special place of mention in English history books. It was Charles Brandon, King Henry VIII’s most loyal and trusted friend, who eventually transformed the site into a formidable Tudor palace complete with a jousting yard. The walls that would have surrounded this yard can still be spotted from the battlements.

The rise of fame and fortune for the site would not last. The English Civil war inflicted severe damage on the castle, and left only the Great Tower as a legacy of the castle’s once former glory. Thankfully, this was saved from demolition.

The castle thereafter suffered from severe decline, as farmers swept their cattle onto this desolate ground. With floors collapsed and windows shattered, the castle was in dire need of care and attention. After being sold off to a consortium in America, the local reverend of the church just next door to the castle (and which is a wonderful sacred space well worth visiting) appealed to the aid of Lord Curzon, who in 1911 bought and restored what remains of this fragile piece of local heritage and opened the castle as a visitor attraction in 1914.

On Lord Curzon’s death, he bequeathed the castle to the National Trust, which has conserved and protected the site since 1925. It was the third site ever inherited by the Trust, and is widely held to have prompted official conservation laws for special places all over the country.

With such an impact on heritage, this proud ancient monument is constantly looking for new ways to tell the story of the past and make the visitor experience the best it can be.

Right now, the castle is exploring the ‘Landscape of Lordship’. It looks at the power, control and influence that were held over different people and places during the middle ages. It’s a great opportunity to learn all about Lord Cromwell’s’ estate from a historical and modern viewpoint through the temporary installations that visitors can discover for themselves on our Heritage Open Day, the 15 September 2019. Visit https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/tattershall-castle to learn more.

Click here to find out about the ways you can engage with other East Midlands National Trust properties as part of Open Heritage Days 2019.