Rockingham Castle

 Arnescote Rockingham Castle needs no introduction to fans of By The Sword Divided. Ancestral home of the Lacey Watson family and their descendants.

Rockingham's very familiar gatehouse 

Rockingham was garrisoned for the King when war broke out, but was taken by Lord Grey of Groby in 1643. 

Its outer walls and keep being sleighted in 1646. 

You can understand why the castle was built on this outcrop

The Castle's owner, Royalist supporter Sir Lewis Watson was tried in Oxford in 1644, being accused of inviting Parliament's men into the castle. He would eventually clear his name and be made the 1st Lord Rockingham.

Arnescote/Rockingham must surely be on every Civil War aficionado's 'to visit list'. Open to the public, this private residence can be visited on Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday afternoons during the summer months (check their website for details before setting off as the castle is also a wedding venue and can be closed on days when it 'should' be open.

Arnescote from the opening credits of the first series 

For anyone who has watched 'By The Sword Divided' will be very familiar with the exterior of the building, but be warned the interior is very different (I presume that the interior scenes were filmed in a studio rather than on location). The village I live in was taken over by a film crew to film a serial set in the 1900s, and I found it fascinating how scenes were filmed to 'crop' out modernity. So it was quite challenging to try and marry the scenes of 'By The Sword...' and the actual landscape of Rockingham. (I must confess to rewatching both series prior to visiting.)

The rather wonderful 'elephant walk' yew avenue

There is a clear earthwork embankment outside the castle which is believed to be part of the Civil War defences, the 'By The Sword...' earthworks were sited just outside the 'real' earthworks.

The 'real' earthwork bank is visible just below the wall

How disrespectful! The site of brave Sir Martin Lacey's last stand now consigned to a buggy park.

The view from the parish church

Rockingham is a private residence so there is, understandably, no photography allowed inside the castle. There is a full colour guide to the castle available to buy, for a very reasonably price for its quality, which has most of the Castle's tour highlights illustrated.

In the great hall there are two English pot helmets, a pair of halberds which are claimed to be C17th but look a little too new, a beautiful black jack leather jug marked CR 1646. Some reproduction Civil War helmets and some Victorian 'medieval' armour.

Throughout the property are a number of portraits from the schools of Lely and Van Dyck, and some original paintings by Dobson.

'The Street' - another familiar 'By The Sword' scene

Sir Lewis was close to Earl Strafford, and there are number of portraits with a Strafford connection, most notably Lely's portrait of Strafford's daughters Anne and Arabella.

For other ECWtravelogue places of interest in Northamptonshire see here.

Postcodes for SatNavs

Rockingham Castle, Corby LE16 8TH

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  1. Great photos. Rockingham/BTSD was the inspiration for our siege game we put on at our local con a few years ago.


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