The site of Tamworth Castle has been in use since Anglo-Saxon times. Tamworth was the main royal administrative centre of the Mercian kings and the castle was probably originally the site of an Anglo-Saxon fort.
The first castle here was built by Robert le Dispenser, steward to William the Conqueror, around 1070. It was wooden bailey castle built on top of an artificial motte. The castle was inherited by the Marmion family in the early 12th Century and they introduced the first stonework in around 1180. The oldest surviving parts of the castle date from this period and include the tower and the north wing.
In 1215 Robert Marmion deserted King John and sided with the French. As a result John commanded that Tamworth Castle be destroyed. There is still some evidence today of the partial destruction of the sandstone keep. After King John's death the castle was restored to the family.
In the 14th Century it passed, by marriage, on to the Freville family. The castle played host to King Edward III in 1330. By the 15th Century it was in the possession of the Ferrers family.
The Ferrers were an important noble family and they set about transforming and modernising the castle to Tudor tastes. Thomas Ferrers also built the timber-beamed great hall in 1437 along with the Tudor warder's lodge.
In the late 16th Century Lord Humphrey II made extensive changes to the castle. He remodelled some medieval buildings and completely removed others. The Ferrers moved in royal circles and its likely that they socialised with the Dudleys during Queen Elizabeth's reign. In the early 17th Century their services were rewarded with three visits by King James I.
During the English Civil War Tamworth Castle remained loyal to the king and was garrisoned with Royalist forces. It was besieged in June 1643 and fell to the Parliamentarians. The Royalists tried to regain the castle in 1644, but were unsuccessful.
In the century after the Civil War the castle was owned by the Shirleys and then by the Comptons, but neither family made it a residence and the castle was allowed to fall in to decay until the early 18th Century.
George Townshend inherited the castle in the 18th Century and his son, also George, undertook a repair and renovation programme. The Elizabethan wing was altered and all the Tudor bay windows were replaced by gothic style windows. The castle grounds were also landscaped to provide a pleasure garden.
After George's death the castle passed through a number of hands and was rented out to various wealthy tenants, including Sir Robert Peel, 1st Baronet and founder of the modern police force. In 1897 it was purchased by the Tamworth Corporation for the people of Tamworth.
Today Tamworth Borough Council still owns the castle and it is open as a tourist attraction. Fifteen of the rooms have been restored and they cover the range of the castle's history from a Norman exhibition on the castle's origins through a grand Tudor dining room and pantry through to a Victorian nursery.
The castle grounds are open throughout the year and offer a range of events, scenic walks and a large children's play area. The castle is open from April to September, though extra days can be accommodated for school and educational groups. Visitor facilities include toilets, a gift shop and cafe.
Status: Museum / Event Venue / Wedding Venue
Owner: Tamworth Borough Council
Tel: +44 (0)1827 709 626
Opening Times: April to September Tuesday to Sunday 11.30am to 4.45pm / October to March weekends only 12pm to 4.15pm
Tamworth Castle from the park below
Looking up at the entrance to Tamworth