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Tours >  > Southwest Lincolnshire > Grimsthorpe Castle

Michael Ford, History Editor

Southwest Lincolnshire Country Houses
by Michael Ford, Country House Editor

Grimsthorpe Castle
Day 2 - We had heard that Grimsthorpe Castle was staging an event, in the form of a War veterans reunion, that day.

Grimsthorpe Castle Grimsthorpe Castle is based on a castle built in the early 13th century for Gilbert de Gant, Earl of Lincoln. What is exciting is that one of the original battlemented towers remains as the southeast corner tower of the present house. It is known as King John's tower.

The present house was built about the year 1540 for Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk and his wife Katherine, the daughter of a previous owner, William 10th Baron Willoughby de Eresby. Katherine had inherited the property on her father's death in 1526 when she was only seven years old. Her family is one of only a very few peerages that can descend in the female line.

In 1539 Henry VIII granted Charles Brandon the lands of the nearby suppressed Abbey of Vaudey, founded in 1147 and he used its stone as building material for his new house. Much of this Tudor house can still be seen today. Robert the 16th Baron Willoughby de Eresby employed Vanbrugh to design a classical front to the house to celebrate his being created Duke of Ancaster and Kesteven.

Inside, the Vanbrugh hall is monumental with stone arcades all around at two levels. The staircase is behind the hall screen and leads to the staterooms on the first floor. The dining room has a painted ceiling and is followed by a series of rooms in the Tudor east range, which have recessed oriel windows, ornate ceilings and beautiful decor. Paintings and tapestries cover the walls and there are many fine pieces of furniture. The south corridor is like a narrow long gallery. There are two beds of particular interest in the bedrooms. The Chinese drawing room has a splendidly rich ceiling and a fan-vaulted oriel window. The chapel is magnificent with superb 17th century plasterwork and an overall colour scheme, which is subtle and very pleasing to the eye.

The present owner is Jane 27th Baroness Willoughby de Eresby. She is the granddaughter of Nancy, Lady Astor. The family monuments can be seen in the church of St. Michael at Edenham.

Grimsthorpe has been the location for several major television productions including the BBC's 'Middlemarch' and 'The Buccaneers' and Granada's 'Moll Flanders'.

The gardens are lovely and colourful and it was while sitting enjoying them that a Douglas DC-3 Dakota came in over us and made three low passes straight down the drive over the assembled veterans and all very memorable.

Grimsthorpe is a Member of the Historic Houses Association and is open from Easter until 26th September on Sundays and Thursdays from 2pm - 6pm and from Sunday to Thursday in August.

NEXT STOP: The Red Hall at Bourne

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