Anglo-Saxon stronghold to get half a million-pound spring clean

A historic home to Mercian kings is set for a half million-pound spring clean, 900 years after last being given a spruce-up.

Dating back more than 1,600 years, Staffordshire’s Tamworth Castle was once the base of Anglo-Saxon rulers, including a forgotten ‘warrior queen’. before being taken over by Norman conquerors and rebuilt in the 11th century.

Now, 900 years after the Castle’s protective stone walls were built on the site of the original fortress, repair work has begun to restore its external circular curtain wall.

The major restoration, which will take six months to complete, includes reappointing and replacing stone works, while conservation works will also be undertaken within the castle itself.

It follows a major investment of £768,000 to transform the top floor of the castle into a state-of-the-art and interactive exhibition, ‘Battle and Tribute’, dedicated to the area’s rich Anglo-Saxon history, which opened in 2021.

During the latest repair works, the Castle will remain open offering visitors a chance to step back in time and learn how the Saxons, Normans, Tudors and Victorians spent their time in the castle.

In Anglo-Saxon times, Tamworth was a crucial centre of the kingdom of Mercia, becoming the principle royal and administrative centre of the Mercian kings.

And among the stories Tamworth Castle reveals is that of a largely forgotten heroine of history, Aethelflaed (pronounced Eth-al-fled), daughter of Alfred the Great.

This ‘warrior queen’ – also known as the Lady of the Mercians – may not be a household name, but she leaves a legacy as one of the most powerful figures of her time whose successful rule is said to have been key to the founding of England.

In 913, she re-fortified Tamworth and went on to rule the Kingdom of Mercia from her Castle stronghold before she died there in June 918. Tamworth is also where Aethelflaed raised her nephew Aethelstan, who is widely regarded as being the first king of all England.

Rebuilt and enlarged by the Normans as a motte and bailey castle, the building also offers glimpses of life during Tudor times, when it was transformed from a fortress to a grand home, graced with three visits by King James I.

During the Georgian era, the Castle grounds were landscaped to create an attractive private pleasure garden, and today the free-to-enter grounds surrounding the former fortress provide a spectacular setting for walks, picnics and events, featuring raised beds, a bandstand, and a new enclosed outdoor play park.

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