UK Travel Guide


Broughton Castle

Description: It was Sir John de Broughton, who was the owner around 1242 AD, who built the oldest surviving part of the present estate. It was in about 1300 that he built his Manor House in a sheltered site at the junction of three streams and surrounded it with a substantial moat. The greater part of his house and the moat remains today. A lack of an heir led to the sale of the house around 1377 to William of Wykeham, who served as a surveyor for Edward III before becoming Bishop of Winchester and later Chancellor. On his death, the house passed to his great nephew Sir Thomas Wykeham and thence to Sir Thomas's granddaughter, Margaret, who married Sir William Fiennes, later 2nd Lord Saye and Sele in 1448. Broughton has therefore been in continuous ownership by the same family since 1377. Sir Thomas Wykeham obtained a licence to 'crenellate and embattle' in 1406: he added the battlemented work to the gatehouse, thus giving the medieval house a military appearance. In 1554 Richard Fiennes completed a reconstruction in the 'Court' style of Edward VI. He raised the roof line to accommodate two floors above the Great Hall, building the two staircase projections to the south and adding - on the foundations of the medieval kitchens - two splendid rooms which form the West Wing (The Oak Room and the Great Parlour). After his death in 1573 his son Richard, continued the embellishment of the interior, recording the date 1599 on the magnificent plaster ceiling in the Great Parlour. The medieval manor house was thus transformed into a Tudor mansion. In 1604, King James I and his Queen, Anne of Denmark, were guests at the Broughton Castle. In the 17th century political activity prevailed and William, 8th Lord Saye and Sele, played a leading role in national affairs. He had strong puritanical and pro-Parliament affiliations and this led him to oppose Charles 1's efforts to rule without Parliament. Broughton became a gathering point for those who worked against the King's government. During the Civil War, William and his four sons actively supported the Parliamentarians. He raised a regiment of blue-coats and four troops of horses which fought at the nearby Battle of Edgehill in 1642. After the battle, the local superiority of the Royalists enabled them to lay siege to the castle which was captured and occupied. The next significant event came in the 19th century when William Thomas, son of the 14th baron, who indulged in a life of frivolity and extravagance as one of the set surrounding the Prince Regent and the Count d'Orsay neglected the castle. The family at that time lived at the more fashionable Belvedere at Erith in Kent. In 1837 the bulk of the contents of the castle were disposed of in an eight-day sale, the last item being the swans on the moat. William Thomas's successor, Frederick, 16th Lord Saye and Sele and Archdeacon of Hereford, carried out vital repair work in the 1860s under the direction of the Architect George Gilbert Scott.
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Notes: The castle is open to the public although the days and times vary from year to year so it is best to telephone on 01295 276070 for details.