Tutbury Castle - History and Facts | History Hit

Tutbury Castle

East Staffordshire, England, United Kingdom

Tutbury Castle is an imposing medieval site in Staffordshire which had one very famous prisoner, Mary Queen of Scots.

Amy Irvine

15 Mar 2021
Image Credit: Robert Powell / CC

About Tutbury Castle

Tutbury Castle is an imposing medieval site in Staffordshire which had one very famous prisoner, Mary Queen of Scots.

History of Tutbury Castle

Whilst its history is said to date back to the 11th century, most of the ruins of Tutbury Castle seen today originate from the 14th and 15th centuries, under the remit of the Lancastrian kings such as Henry IV and Henry VI. In the early 16th century, Tutbury Castle would see some royal glamour in the form of a visit from Henry VIII, but it was at around this time that this fearsome fortress saw a great decline, with records showing it required extensive repairs.

Yet, the historic heyday of Tutbury was soon to come, not as a prized royal residence but rather as a majestic prison where Elizabeth I kept Mary Queen of Scots captive.

First arriving at Tutbury Castle on 4 February 1569, Mary would spend much time in her regal jail, a place she disliked both because of its function and due to its rundown state. (She allegedly complained of the damp, the wet plaster, and draughty ill-fitting old carpentry). Mary would be moved several times over the coming years, with her final sojourn there being for almost a year in 1585.

By the late 16th century the fabric of the castle began to decay, though James I stayed there a number of times between 1619-1624.

During the English Civil War the castle was held by Royalist forces and re-fortified for the Crown. An unsuccessful siege by Parliamentary forces in 1643 was later followed by another successful siege in 1646. The terms of surrender included the destruction of the castle, with Parliament ordering demolition work to be carried out in 1647. Despite some rooms being repaired after the 1660 Restoration of the monarchy, the castle never returned to its full state. A folly was built on top of the motte in 1780.

Tutbury Castle today

Today, Tutbury Castle is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, and open to visitors. Some of the castle’s indoor rooms are furnished with original 16th and 17th century furniture and a large fireplace. There is also a civil war ruin of towering ramparts.

The castle is set in 38 acres, perched on a grassy ledge that overlooks the Dove Valley with a river below, which makes for some great views. The castle can be hired for filming, fashion shoots and weddings.

Getting to Tutbury Castle

Tutbury is easily accessible by road and rail. The nearest railway station is the Tutbury / Hatton station, which is less than a 10 minute walk away. There are also regular buses from Derby and Burton on Trent.

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