Grimsthorpe Castle Summary
- Address: Grimsthorpe, Bourne, PE10 0LY (Map)
- Tel: +44 (0)1778 591205
- Fax: +44 (0)1778 591259
- Owner: Grimsthorpe & Drummond Castle Trust
- Administrator: Mr Ray Biggs
- E-mail: Click here to contact
- Website: Go to the Grimsthorpe Castle website
Grimsthorpe Castle Description
Grimsthorpe Castle rises majestically from the flat landscape of South Lincolnshire, surrounded by its extensive park. The principal front of the house, the last masterpiece of the Baroque architect Sir John Vanbrugh, is calculated to impress. Vanbrugh was commissioned in 1715 to build Grimsthorpe by his friend Robert Bertie, the 16th Baron Willoughby de Eresby, to celebrate his enoblement as the first Duke of Ancaster and Kesteven.
While Grimsthorpe is not a castle in the strict sense of the word, its character is massive and martial – the towers and outlying pavilions recalling the bastions of a great fortress in classical dress. For all its grandeur, Vanbrugh's triumphal entrance front is a facade grafted onto a much older house, now much altered and recast.
A Castle built for a King:
Grimsthorpe has been the home of the de Eresby family since 1516, when it was granted by Henry VIII to the 10th Baron Willoughby de Eresby on the occasion of his marriage to Maria de Salinas, kinswoman and lady-in-waiting to Queen Catherine of Aragon. Their daughter Katherine inherited the title and estate on the death of her father in 1526, when she was aged just seven and in 1533 became the fourth wife of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, a close ally of Henry the VIII. He set about extending and rebuilding his wife's house, and in only eighteen months it was ready in time for a visit by King Henry on his way to York in 1541 to meet with his cousin, James V of Scotland.
Grimsthorpe's historical connection:
The collection of fine furniture associated with the Willoughby de Eresby’s hereditary Office as Lord Great Chamberlains to the Palace of Westminster, including thrones and furnishings from the old House of Lords, can be seen in the suite of state rooms along with family portraits and those of the monarchs they served.
The State Dining Room occupies Vanbrugh’s north-east tower, and is lit by a Venetian window. It contains two giltwood thrones, one of which was used for George III’s maiden speech in the House of Lords in 1761. The King James and State Drawing Rooms have been redecorated over the centuries, reflecting the fluctuations of both fashion and family fortunes. In these rooms are portraits by Reynolds and Van Dyck, European furniture and English tapestries, woven in Soho for Sir Gilbert Heathcote.
The South Corridor of the house is an art gallery with family portraits and more artefacts from the House of Lords. There are thrones used by Prince Albert and Edward VII and the desk on which Queen Victoria signed her coronation oath. The writing desk on which George IV signed the first Act of Parliament of his reign stands in the West Corridor. (It was the marriage of Peregrine, 12th Baron Willoughby de Eresby to the daughter of the Earl of Oxford in 1578, that brought the hereditary office of Lord Great Chamberlain to the family.)
Nearby, the Gothic Bedroom has a canopy of crimson velvet, embroidered with the cypher of George IV in silver gilt thread. Amongst many other State Rooms on view to the visitor, the Chinese Drawing Room features a striking 18th century bowed Oriel window. The walls are hung with Chinese wallpaper depicting birds amidst bamboo. Evidence of more recent additions carried out by the late Countess of Ancaster can be seen in the mirrored panels that imitate windows and the Colefax and Fowler fabric coverings to the chairs.
The spectacular Vanbrugh Hall is the largest room in the house. A massive chimney piece by Hawksmoor carries the monogram of George I and is surmounted by the ducal coronet bestowed upon the Willoughby de Eresby family in the 18th century. Above the fireplace are arcades occupied by a series of larger-than-life figures, painted in grisaille to resemble statues. Attributed to James Thornhill, they depict English Kings who particularly favoured the Willoughbys, reinforcing the links of the family with the Monarchy.
Why not view their very comprehensive Website for Grimsthorpe? They are members of the 'Hidden England' group of houses and castles.
The Park and Gardens:
Grimsthorpe Park was the southern edge of the great Lincolnshire forest. Oak trees that had been recorded in the Doomsday Book of 1086 were growing in the park when drawings of the park were made in the early 18th century. Some of these ancient trees were still growing there in the 20th century Oaks were felled during the Tudor period for ship building and again during Cromwell’s ten year Commonwealth.
The oak trees you see today were planted after the restoration of the Stuart Monarchy, the straight ridings through the trees creating a formal park. The Four Mile Riding was a double-planted oak avenue which ran from the castle to the boundary of the Park. The formal pattern of the ridings remains, though some have been replanted as chestnut avenues.
The formal flower and topiary garden leads imperceptibly into the woodland garden, and provides a fine setting for the ornamental vegetable garden and orchard, created in the 1960’s by the Countess of Ancaster and Peter Coates. Intricate parterres marked with box hedges lie close to the Castle, and a dramatic herbaceous border frames views across the lake.
Corporate Hospitality and Events:
Why not make your event truily memorable by holding your meeting in exclusive surroundings and discover the timeless delights of Grimsthorpe? Vehicle product launches, marquee-based hospitality, film/photo shoots, outdoor training exercises and exclusive castle tours can all be arranged, as they offer a bespoke service and exclusive use.
Opening Times - 2012
- 1st April - 30th September: Sunday - Thursday, 1 - 5 pm (last admission 4.30 pm)
Park & Gardens:
- 1st April - 30th September: Sunday - Thursday, 11 am - 6 pm (last admission 5 pm)
- Groups: April - September by arrangement
Admission Prices - 2012
Castle, Park & Gardens:
- Adult - £10.00
- Child - £4.00
- Concession - £9.00
- Family (2+3) - £24.00
Park & Gardens:
- Adult - £5.00
- Concession - £4.00
- Child - £2.00
- Family (2+3) - £12.00
- Groups (15+) - £7.95
More information on the garden can be found on The Gardens Guide.
Your Reviews of Grimsthorpe Castle
Lyn-Marie (30 June 2011)
Excellent. Built for a King, granted to the Lady in Waiting to his first Queen, granted to the friend of that King and lived in by his friend's wife, this house is worthy of being on the ten top sites of Britain list, should such a list exist. Grimsthorpe is a Tudor house on the outside, a medieval castle at one side, a Tudor home at the other, and inside it shines a light on the renaissance, the Jacobean and the Georgian rebuilding and decorations. However, the main thing this house has is style and it is very beautiful. I normally am disappointed when a Tudor house no longer has Tudor as its heart, but the house is very tasteful in the use of all of the styles from the Tudor to the early Victorian in the China Room, blue in colour and a very peaceful place. Some Tudor aspects remain, the chapel and the long gallery for one and the fireplaces and high ceilings and the intimate rooms are all Tudor aspects. The great windows are from the same era, but the later rooms and the windows complement those built by Brandon well. The long range makes you feel a little lost, but that is part of the charm of the house and it is still worthy of its owners and the King it was built to please. The gardens and the other attractions are well worth a visit and there is something for everyone. The information boards outside give a good history of the house and show what Grimsthorpe looked like in Duchess Katherine's day. The disabled parking is very close to the house and the guides are full of information and a lot of tales of the ancestors. Many famous and lovely paintings on the walls, including one of a young Princess Mary Tudor, daughter to Henry VIII. A very fine statue based on Roman God Mars in the gardens, copied from one in Rome and decoration from Laycote Abbey. Great cafe and great facilities and plenty of toilets. A good day out for everyone.
Mark Griffin (22 April 2007)
We visited the house in 2005, and were on the last tour. There were just the two of us and the guide but we were treated to a full tour and not rushed. This was a great kindness and I feel typical of this special house. A lovely place with great treasures and a warm welcome!
Additional Info for Grimsthorpe Castle
- Dogs allowed
- Disabled Access
- Meals Available
- Live Entertainment
- Car Parking
- Historic Houses Association
Credit Cards Accepted
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