If you’re planning a trip to Rutland, then we’ve got an activity that needs to be on your stack – visit Rockingham castle, a site home to 900 years of history, surrounded by beautiful parklands and gardens.
Rockingham Castle lies on a hill, dramatically overlooking the countryside of Rutland. It was originally ordered built by William the Conqueror, all the way back nearly 1000 years ago in 1070! It has been host to many Kings, Queens and other important figures throughout its history, including Richard Lionheart, King John and Edward I among others. In 1544, Britain’s most notorious King, Henry VIII, gave the castle to Edward Watson who transformed the castle into his family home – now, for 500 years, the castle has remained in the Watson’s family ownership, where today it is the home of James and Elizabeth Watson and their three children.
Did you know that Charles Dickens often visited Rockingham Castle? The Watsons entertained many guests at the castle, including the famous writer, where he would even perform in his own plays at the Long Gallery, and is cited to have drew inspiration for the character Chesney Wold in his novel Bleak House from Rockingham!
Visiting the castle, it’s not hard to see why William the Conqueror had ordered the castle built in Rutland – you’ll get spectacular views over the Welland Valley, and on a clear day, across 5 neighbouring counties. Inside the castle, you can see the lasting influence of its royal visitors and its heyday period as a Tudor house – see the stunning portraits of Mary Boleyn, sister of Henry VIII’s wife, and of Queen Elizabeth I. Explore the old kitchen, restored to how it would have looked like in 1895, imagining the grand preparations for their grand dinners and parties, and admire the exquisite furniture and treasures collected over the centuries.
Heading outside, you can wander the 18 acres stunning gardens and parklands. Explore sweeping lawns, formal and informal gardens all set among medieval fortifications that create a unique atmosphere. Take a stroll through the circular rose garden at the old keep, and take in the tranquillity at the wild garden in the ravine, with over 200 species of rare trees and shrubbery.
Head to Rockingham Castle for a fantastic family day out!