Located in the north of Northamptonshire, the castle overlooks the picturesque village of Rockingham, whose main street, lined with thatched and slated cottages, leads into the Welland valley.
The castle was built on the orders of William the Conqueror, on a commanding hill site previously occupied by Iron Age, Roman, and Saxon tribes.
It became a popular retreat for royalty, owing to its fine position in the heart of Rockingham Forest hunting country. An iron chest, reputed to have belonged to King John, can be found at the castle, together with another chest bearing the arms of Henry V. Edward III appears to have been the last monarch to visit the castle, during its possession by the crown.
It fell into neglect, during the 15th. and early 16th. centuries, until it was leased to Edward Watson, a local landowner,in 1553. He converted it into a private residence, carrying out considerable refurbishment and extensions, and it was subsequently bought outright by Sir Lewis Watson in 1619.
Further damage was inflicted on the castle during its occupation by Parliamentary forces in 1643. Since that time it has been much restored, and it remains in the Watson family to this day, being presently occupied by Commander Michael Saunders Watson and his family.
Charles Dickens was a frequent visitor during the 19th. century. He wrote a large portion of Bleak House during his stays at the castle, and is reputed to have seen Lady Deadlock's ghost behind the 400-year-old yew hedge.
and the Welland Valley viewed from the ramparts
The castle is well worth a visit, for the historic treasures within the building, the beautiful gardens, expansive lawns, varieties of shrubs and trees, and breathtaking views over four counties.
On the A6003, overlooking the village of Rockingham, close to Corby
Further Information and Opening Times
Visit the Rockingham Castle web site.