Enjoy 950 Years of History at Rockingham Castle in Rutland

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.

Where is Rockingham Castle?

The castle can be found on the side of the Welland Valley, off the A6003 and 1 mile north of Corby. Rockingham is 24 miles from Peterborough, Northampton and Leicester, and about half an hour from the A1 and the M1, or 10 minutes from the A14 at Kettering.

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.

Charles Dickens at Rockingham Castle

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!

  • Tickets must be booked in advance here.
  • Opening times for 2022:
    Easter Sunday (17 April) to 29 May – Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays
    5 June to 27 September – Tuesdays, Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays
    Grounds and Gardens open from 12 noon, castle open from 1pm. Shuts at 5pm.
  • Take a look at their events page.
  • Rockingham Castle hosts the land rover driving experience – check here for more information.
  • Wheelchair users will need to enter through the ramp at the gift shop.

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