February 7, 2010 by xwidep (Phil)
Okay, sorry for the delay, real life had an impact on the virtual (I know outrageous but these things happen!!)
So a sunny winters Sunday made me hanker for a whiz round the Heart of England’s country lanes in my lovely classic car ‘Carmen’ a Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, but where to go?
Well the sky was starting to look a bit threatening weather wise, once I had set out driving through the English countryside, so I decided to go somewhere close, Kirby Muxloe Castle in Leicestershire.
Situated four miles west of Leicester the Castle is constructed with bricks that were fired on site and not from quarried stone, which makes it slightly unusual for a fortified building, but Kirby Muxloe Castle is also one of the earliest brickwork castles erected in England and one of the last of its type to be built, a quadrangular castle, which adds to its uniqueness but that, is not, in my humble opinion, what makes Kirby Muxloe Castle so interesting; I think it is such a wonderful place because it is not a ruin!
It was built for William, Lord Hastings, who for a time held a position of great power within the realm. William, Lord Hastings was Edward IV’s second cousin and Lord Chamberlain, he acquired the site in 1474 and obtained a license to crenelate (fortify with battlements i.e. make into a Castle), but did not proceed with the fortifications.
Quadrangular Tower (crenelated)
During the Wars of the Roses, he fought for Edward IV at the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross (which has a lovely Water Mill) and followed the King into exile in 1471, which eventually led to his downfall and an explanation of why Kirby Muxloe Castle is not a ruin.
After Edward’s death in 1483, Richard, Duke of Gloucester and the king’s brother, took the throne as Regent of England to rule on behalf of the heir, Prince Edward (who was still a child).
Although he was still Lord Chamberlain, a few months after Richard became Regent; Hastings was charged with treason for allegedly plotting against him. Lord Hastings must have been seen as a significant threat to the future King of Shakespeare fame because within just a few days, Richard had him beheaded on Tower Green the first execution for the Tower of London.
Within a month, Richard seized the throne for himself, declared the Prince Edward and his brother Richard; the two heirs to the throne, as illegitimate, and became King Richard III. Shortly after, the two boys disappeared. Many historians blame Richard III for the mysterious demise of the “Princes in the Tower.”
Despite William’s execution, the Hastings family retained control of the brickwork castle, and, for a time, continued the building program, however, in 1484, Lady Hastings abandoned the project.
So the reason Kirby Muxloe Castle is not a ruin is because it was never finished!
Kirby Muxloe Castle is now managed by English Heritage and is open to the public to walk around all year round for free, which I did when I took these photographs, just as it started to snow; in the summer you can pay to go across the moat and explore the ruins in full.
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