Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Thursday 7 December 2023

Castle conversions

Somerton Castle in Lincolnshire and Astley Castle in Warwickshire have both recently featured in magazine articles about recent restorations. Neither are, surprisingly, as well known as places of historical as well as architectural interest as they deserve to be.

At Somerton, built in the later thirteenth century by Anthony Bek and which was used as the place of detention for King John II of France after his capture at Poitiers in 1356, the owners have restored the historic building, removed later additions and commissioned excellent new features in accordance with the existing structure. Country Life has an illustrated account at Somerton: The ruined medieval castle transformed into a magical family home

Astley was the home of Elizabeth Woodville as Lady Grey before the death of her husband Sir John Grey at the second battle of St Albans in 1461. Along with Bradgate in Leicestershire it was the centre of the Grey family network in the Midlands. 

Here the present owners The Landmark Trust have created a modern house within the ruined shell of a building which, as I wrote above, like Somerton, does not appear to be as well known as its history might suggest. The description of the completed renovation scheme from House and Garden can be seen at The extraordinary story of a contemporary home built in the ruins of a medieval castle

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