This impressive fortress, actually in Leicestershire, was built by William the Conqueror in a curious site neither near a town nor on the banks of an important river.
In 1095 it experienced its greatest moment when the English bishops sided with William II against the archbishop of Canterbury. The council held at Rockingham was one the first recorded assemblies of State.
The castle's position in the Rockingham Forest made it an important royal hunting lodge and many of the Norman kings held court there. King John frequently visited the castle. However, when the task of ruling the country became more complex the castle was increasingly neglected.
At the end of the 13th century Edward I was the last monarch to carry out repairs and alterations. It was he who adapted the entrance towers from square to the more useful curving shape
The castle passed into the hands of female royalty but over the years it declined. If left in royal hands it would fallen into ruin but in 1530 Edward Watson leased the castle from Henry VIII.
The Watsons restored the Norman castle and carried out widespread alterations.
The keep was retained but in 1646 it was destroyed by parliamentarians.
The Watson family survived the Civil War and repaired most of the damage. In the 1840's the architect Anthony Salvin gave the castle its Plantagent appearance. The descendants of Edward Watson still live in the castle.
Easter-end May: Sun & Bank Hol Mon ; Jun-Sept: Tues, Sun & Bank Hol Mon. 12:00-17:00 Grounds open 12:00, Castle 13:00.
Tel: 01536 770240 Rockingham Castle Website