The Castle


The Castle

Strictly speaking Grimsthorpe today is an historic house rather than a castle, but you can see the way the architect, Sir John Vanbrugh, incorporated elements in his design to create a feeling of a fortress. When you visit, see if you can spot the design details that are included in some of the pictures.


The Castle is made of limestone. It takes on different colours and character depending upon the time of day and the intensity of the sunlight.

The term ‘castle’ has been attached to the building at Grimsthorpe for around 800 years, even though today it is clear to visitors that the building is a large house.

The castle has been in the Willoughby de Eresby family for 500 years. It was granted by Henry VIII to William, Baron Willoughby de Eresby on the occasion of his marriage to Maria de Salinas, lady-in-waiting to Katherine of Aragon in 1516. The oldest part of the castle, King John’s Tower, was built in the early 13th century. It is the main front which gives the castle its grandeur and dramatic scale. The final masterpiece of Sir John Vanbrugh, architect of Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard, it was commissioned in 1715 by Robert Bertie, Baron Willoughby de Eresby, to celebrate the family’s elevation to Dukes of Ancaster and Kesteven, The Willoughby de Eresby family is one of three in England who still fulfill the hereditary office of Lord Great Chamberlain, the Monarch’s representative at the Palace of Westminster.


Visit the Castle

A visit to the castle is something you should consider doing at least once. On weekdays you will be given a guided tour that lasts around one hour. The guides are experts on the history of the house, the family and the contents. They help to bring the story of the place to life.

If you are here on Sundays you can stroll through the castle at your own pace. The guides are still here but they are located in the rooms where you can talk to them as you walk through.

Access to the first floor is by two flights of stairs. These have handrails but of course stairs also need to be descended when you are about to leave. There is a ‘virtual’ tour of the State rooms that can be watched on our laptop for those unable to gain access to the first floor.

In order to protect the tapestries and other furnishings curtains are drawn closed in the state rooms.


The Collection & Paintings

The Castle collection includes tapestries, furniture, ceramics and paintings.

In most of the State Rooms the shutters and curtains are closed. This ensures that the fragile contents in the rooms are protected from direct sunlight. The sun’s rays will fade fabrics very quickly, as well as damaging delicate woodwork. The electric lighting used in the rooms helps to create an intimate and more home-like atmosphere.

There is a lot to see in each room and the Castle guides will always aim to answer any questions you have about the objects on show.

We are unable to allow photography in the building, but a well illustrated guide book, complete with the history of the family and the estate is available to purchase in the gift shop.