Even before King Arthur’s Camelot became ubiquitous in pop culture, the notion of castles seemed to captivate people all over the world. The regal beauty and power of these medieval fortresses allowed many of them to remain awe-inspiring, even into modern times.
One English castle, however, might just give old Arty a run for his money—but not for the reason you might think. Astley Castle in North Warwickshire was actually abandoned until very recently. Empty and crumbling, it was far from the palatial estate it had once been.
That is… until it received an incredible facelift courtesy of a building preservation charity called Landmark Trust. Now, it might be even better than Camelot!
Initially constructed in the 12th century, the Astley Castle in North Warwickshire, England has seen its fair share of changes. Such as in 1266, for example, when it was given a moat, and in 1343, when it became a seminary.
It was also home to a number of England’s most famous people. No resident was perhaps more famous than the one and only Lady Jane Grey, who would go on to be known as the Nine-Day Queen.
Her father, Henry, the first Duke of Suffolk, rebelled against the monarchy after the death of Edward VI in 1553. He proclaimed that Jane was the rightful heir to the throne, but the proclamation failed after forces rallied to the side of the eventual Queen Mary I.
Ultimately, Lady Jane and her father were both beheaded for their actions. Evidently, Henry Grey was actually discovered hiding in a hollowed out oak tree at Astley Castle when he was captured.
In World War II, it was used as hotel. Astley Castle did have some falls from grace that led to its eventual abandonment. In 1978, it was badly damaged by a fire, believed to have been started by the then-owner.
Over the course of the next several decades, Astley Castle was totally stripped of any valuables and vandalized many times over. Sadly, it had become merely a shell of what it had once been.
After some time, the splendor was all but gone from the castle. It resembled ruins more than it did a historically significant fortress and manor. Luckily, however, there was someone who wanted to fix it.
By 2005, the members of the Landmark Trust, a building preservation charity, had enough. They developed a great idea to return Astley Castle back to its former glory—and decided to hold an architectural competition.
Finally, the winning design, which came from United Kingdom-based architectural firm Witherford Watson Mann, was ultimately chosen. Construction began right away to restore the once-beautiful castle.
Rather than simply renovating the castle, however, these designers had other goals in mind. The architects wanted to turn the castle into a home—one that could actually be rented by anyone looking for a weekend getaway!
In order to incorporate as much of Astley Castle’s impressive history as possible, the designers were sure not to remove or harm any of the ruins that remained. Instead, they simply added to what was already there.
Instead of gutting the interior entirely, for instance, they chose to look for ways that the castle itself could inform the updates. Doing it this way helped to give the castle’s redesign both a modern and a medieval feel.
The originality of the newly reopened Astley Castle was evident from the moment the Landmark Trust first saw the designs in person. It was the perfect merger of the new and the old—and it was just what the old manor needed.
Each room in the castle was decorated using great care. From the textile furnishings to the ceiling, every piece needed to fit into the mold that Astley Castle had already offered the designers. Nothing could seem out of place.
The architects’ stated goal with the updated castle was to bring in as much of the landscape and natural light as they could. It’s easy to see that they pulled it off in spectacular fashion! Can you imagine staying in any of these rooms and checking out that view outside?
Now, the castle can sleep up to eight people with two sets of twin beds and two double beds. It can also be booked for a modest price (at least as far as castles are concerned). Heck, it’s even dog-friendly! Woof! Are you ready to plan your next vacation yet?
So, if you’re ready to travel through English history in the regal-yet-cozy confines of Astley Castle, pull out your calendar and start planning your trip! Living the dream in a real-life castle has never been so easy.
Staying overnight at Astley Castle sure does seem therapeutic, doesn’t it? Not to mention how cool it would be to be surrounded by some really significant pieces of history! If you’d like to check about availability, you can do so here.
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