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 Leicestershire Ashby de la Zouche Castle


Ashby Castle forms the backdrop to the famous jousting scenes in Sir Walter Scott's classic novel of 1819, Ivanhoe. Now a ruin, the castle began as a manor house in the 12th century and only achieved castle status in the 15th century, by which time the hall and buttery had been enlarged, with a solar to the east and a large, integral kitchen added to the west. In 1474, Lord Hastings, the Lord Chamberlain to Edward IV, constructed the chapel and the keep, Hastings Tower - a castle within a castle.Ashby has hosted royal visitors - notably Mary, Queen of Scots, twice imprisoned here, and James I, who attended masques and lavish entertainments. Ashby suffered a dramatic Civil War siege in the 1640s, after which the tower was blown in two. Now, visitors can climb the 24-metre (78 ft) tower, which offers superb views of the town and surrounding countryside. An underground passageway, which was created during the war, links the kitchen to the tower and can still be explored today.

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