Tattershall Castle has its origins in either a stone castle or a fortified manor house, built by Robert de Tattershall in 1231. This was largely rebuilt in brick, and greatly expanded, by Ralph, 3rd Lord Cromwell, Treasurer of England, between 1430 and 1450. Brick castles are less common in England than stone or earth and timber constructions; when brick was chosen as a building material it was often for its aesthetic appeal or because it was fashionable. The trend for using bricks was introduced by Flemish weavers. There was plenty of stone available nearby, but Cromwell chose to use brick. About 700,000 bricks were used to build the castle, which has been described as "the finest piece of medieval brick-work in England".
Of Lord Cromwell's castle, the 130 foot (40 metre) high Great Tower and moat still remain. It is thought that the castle's three state rooms were once splendidly fitted out and the chambers were heated by immense Gothic fireplaces with decorated chimney pieces and tapestries. It has been said that the castle was an early domestic country mansion masquerading as a fortress. Cromwell died in 1456, and the castle was initially inherited by his niece, Joan Bouchier, but it was confiscated by the Crown after her husband's demise. Tattershall Castle was recovered in 1560 by Sir Henry Sidney, who sold it to Lord Clinton, later Earl of Lincoln, and it remained with the Earls of Lincoln until 1693. It passed to the Fortesques, but then fell into neglect. It was put up for sale in 1910. Its greatest treasures, the huge medieval fireplaces, were still intact. When an American bought them they were ripped out and packaged up for shipping. Lord Curzon of Kedleston stepped in at the eleventh hour to buy the castle and was determined to get the fireplaces back. After a nationwide hunt they were found in London and returned. He restored the castle and left it to the National Trust on his death in 1925.
The tower is about 66 feet across. There are separate entrances to the basement, to the ground floor (Parlour), and to the spiral staircase leading to the upper floors of the tower. This suggests that the basement and ground floor were intended to provide communal accommodation, while the three great upper rooms were an independent private suite. The design was extremely simple, with four floors, slightly increasing in size at each level by reductions in wall thickness. The fireplaces indicate that the rooms were not intended to be subdivided, but were kept as one great room at each level. One of the four corner turrets contains the staircase, but the other three provided extra accommodation rooms at each level. The basement was used to store spices and other kitchen items. It is believed that during the Civil War it was used as a prison. The ground floor was the Parlour and it was here that local tenants would come to pay their rent. Today, the Parlour is licensed for civil wedding ceremonies for up to 90 guests.
The first floor of the private suite was the Hall, which would have been used to entertain and wine and dine guests. The second floor was the Audience Chamber, and only the finest of guests would have been admitted here. A brick vaulted corridor led to a small waiting room, before the great hall of the Audience Chamber, which today houses Flemish tapestries bought by Lord Curzon. The third floor would have been the Private Chamber, where the Lord would have retired for the night. Above these are the roof gallery and battlements, which provide good views across the Lincolnshire landscape, as far as Boston to the south, and Lincoln to the north. It is not possible today to access the turrets. The brick foundations to the south of the great tower, projecting into the moat, mark the site of the 15th-century kitchens.
There are loose gravel paths throughout the site which are difficult for manual wheelchairs. The spiral staircase has 149 steps, and there are 12 steps down to the basement with no lift. There are uneven surfaces in the castle and grounds with some steep grass banks. Wheelchair access to the ground floor only after traversing a loose gravel path. There is a Mobility toilet, located in the visitor toilets. Drop off point near main entrance. Picture book for audio tour in the castle, Braille guide, hearing loops for audio guides. Assistance dogs welcome in all areas.
Location : Sleaford Road, Tattershall, Lincolnshire, LN4 4LR
Transport: Lincoln Central (National Rail) then bus. Bus Routes : 31A and A6 stop close by.
Opening Times : Daily 11:00 to 17:00
Tickets : Adults £6.36; Children £3.18
Tel: 01526 342543