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Explore Astley Castle

Ruins and renovation of Astley Castle with St Mary's Church. Photo (c) Rob Tysall Pro Photography

The ancient moated site of Astley Castle opens its doors for the public to explore on the following dates: Friday 16, Saturday 17, Sunday 18 or Monday 19 June 2023.

Astley Castle holds unequivocally modern living accommodation clasped within the shell of the Castle. Floor-to-ceiling windows in the huge living room and kitchen look out over Astley’s former collegiate church and into beautiful internal courts formed by ruined spaces. You’re invited to explore the accommodation hidden within the ruined walls and the new knot garden and find out more about its history through the footpath trails.

Elementary Whatson’s team of Rob and Ann went along to a previous Open Day. Here’s our brief history and a few photos:

Approach to Astley Castle. Photo (c) Rob Tysall Pro Photography

Like the phoenix risen from the ashes, Astley Castle has literally been brought back from a crumbling burnt out shell to become an award-winning historic gem, nestling in the North Warwickshire countryside. Astley Castle dates back to the 13th century, it's been home to three Queens, played a vital role in the Civil War and is said to be haunted by the ghost of Lady Jane Grey.

Over the centuries it's been knocked down, burnt down and vandalised, yet defying the odds, has instilled passion in those who have fought to preserve and renovate it. And today it's one of architectural charity The Landmark Trust's most treasured and successful historic building renovations.

Astley Castle is tucked away down country lanes within the little village of Astley near Nuneaton. It’s thought that there was a castle built on this site back in Saxon times and was visited by royalty as early as the 11th century.

Gardens at Astley Castle. Photo (c) Rob Tysall Pro Photography

In 1266 Warin de Bassinghburn was granted licence to enclose his house at Astley with a dyke and a wall and to crenelate it. The banks of the moat were 10 – 15 ft high.

As centuries passed every age has stamped its mark on Astley Castle – or Astley Manor as it was originally known. At one time it was owned by Thomas, Marquess of Dorset and his wife Margaret. Their son, Henry who later became Duke of Suffolk was the father of Lady Jane Grey, the ‘nine days queen’ who spent some of her childhood there. It was also home to the wives of King Henry IV and Henry VII.

The ancient and the modern. Photo (c) Rob Tysall Pro Photography

There’s a stone monument to Henry, Duke of Suffolk just 500 metres from the Astley Castle, marking his desperate attempt to avoid execution for his part in the Wyatt rebellion. For three days he hid inside the hollow trunk of an oak tree. However, he was betrayed by his park keeper, arrested and beheaded at the Tower of London in 1554.

After his execution, Queen Mary ordered Astley Castle to be destroyed. It was dismantled as a stronghold. The Duchess appealed to be allowed to live in the remains of the house. Later she married Adrian Stokes who repaired the building. During the English Civil War, it was used as a stronghold by parliamentary forces, becoming one of a network of small garrisons.

In 1674 Astley Castle was bought by Sir Richard Newdigate who also owned Arbury Hall. It remained in the Newdigate family until the 20th century. It was then leased out.

The rich history of Astley Castle. Photo (c) Rob Tysall Pro Photography

In 1953 Astley Castle was taken over by a hotel chain and was a popular hotel for 14 years. Comedian Larry Grayson frequented it, and a cocktail bar was named Lady Jane Grey. However, the hotel chain went into receivership, the furniture was auctioned off and the building left empty, at the mercy of the elements and vandals. In 1978 a fire gutted the building and Astley Castle stood derelict for many years. In 1998 it was put on the Heritage at Risk (HAR) Register.

It was never forgotten however, and over the following years preservation societies and individuals fought to rebuild or save Astley Castle before 1,000 years of history were gone forever. From the early 1990s the architectural charity The Landmark Trust had struggled to find a workable solution to make the building habitable again.

Finally, they launched a competition to design a holiday house that could be created within the ruins. Witherford Watson Mann architects were the winners. Their design went on to win the RIBA Stirling Prize for Architecture 2013. Funding for the project came through grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage and various charitable trusts and individuals. This Grade II Listed Building was removed from the Heritage at Risk Register in 2012. Why not go and see Astley Castle as it stands today?

Many historic figures have passed through this ancient gateway. Photo (c) Rob Tysall Pro Photography

Book your free tickets:

Whilst booking is not essential you are asked to register for the event :

As a charity, the Landmark Trust relies on donations to support their work. They couldn’t have rescued over 200 Landmarks without the support of the public.

Further information or to discuss before visiting, please contact the Booking Enquiries team on 01628 825925 or The Booking Office is open Mon to Fri - 9am to 5pm.

Parking is available in a nearby field, look out for signage close to the site. A lift to the second floor is available for visitors to use, however please note there is a walk of several hundred metres from the parking area to the castle.


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