Tamworth Castle, The Holloway, Ladybank, Staffordshire B79 7NA I Phone: 01827 709 626 I Email:heritage@tamworth.gov.uk
 
   
 

Tudor (1485 – 1603) and Stuart (1603 - 1714)

The Ferrers Family - 15th century to the 17th century
The Ferrers were a wealthy and important noble family with extensive lands in the Midlands.  They held the Castle for nearly 300 years from 1423 – 1681.  They were responsible for transforming the Castle from a fortress to a grand Tudor home, designed to impress and emphasise their wealth.  Thomas Ferrers the 1st built the timber tie-beamed great hall in approx 1437.

Thomas Ferrers II (1458 – 1498) is believed to have supported the house of York during the Wars of the Roses in England 1455 – 1471.  Thomas’s wife, Ann, was sister to William, Lord Hasting's, close personal friend of King Edward VI (1461-1483).  He was knighted by king Edward IV as a reward for his loyalty.  His son John pre-deceased him, probably dying in battle at Tewkesbury in 1471. 

During the Elizabethan period Lord Humphrey II (1576 – 1607) made huge changes to the castle, re-modelling and in some instances removing existing medieval structures.  His overarching aim was to build a home that accurately reflected his high status in society.  Humphrey mixed with the most influential men of his time, most notably Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. Robert Dudley held substantial lands in the midlands and Humphrey assisted him in their administration.  The Dudley family had property close to the Ferrers.  Dudley’s second wife Lettice Knollys owned Drayton Manor, only 5 miles from Tamworth castle.  Letters and bills exist between the Dudleys and Ferrers indicating the two noble households were likely to have socialised. 

In the early seventeenth century the Ferrers family were rewarded for their loyal service to the crown with 3 visits by king James the 1st in 1619, 1621 and1624.  The new Tudor buildings comfortably accommodated a royal retinue in privacy and grandeur. 

During the English civil war the Ferrers fled the castle for the relative safety of their home in Walton on Trent.  After the war the Ferrers family resumed ownership of the Castle for the duration of John Ferrer’s IV lifetime.  On his death n 1680 the castle passed through his deceased son to his granddaughter, Ann Ferrers married to Robert Shirley.

Tamworth Castle during the English Civil War - 1642 - 1649
In the autumn of 1642 William Comberford raised a small royalist force and garrisoned the Castle for King Charles I (1625 – 1649).   The Comberford family were lords of the manor of Comberford, Wiggington and Wednesbury.  They owned the Tudor Moat house in Tamworth as well as the hall at Wednesbury.
 
At this time the neighbouring town of Lichfield was held by Parliament.  This became the main target for the Tamworth royalists, who adopted the method of harrying opposing forces rather than outright battle.  These tactics proved a success, hampering the supply routes to Lichfield.   Inevitably it also bought them to the attention of the larger parliamentarian force who determined to end the royalist seat of control in Tamworth. 

On the 23rd June 1643 Tamworth castle was laid to siege by Parliamentarian for two days and captured by a detachment of Cromwell’s forces under Colonel William Purefoy.  Comberford escaped but many of the garrison remained prisoners. 

A small force was left in control under the governorship of Captain Waldyve Willington for the remainder of the civil war.  Muster lists and parish records note that the town and castle accommodated some 170 soldiers and officers for the duration of the war.   Senior officers were stationed at the Castle. 

The Royalist force tried to regain the castle in 1644 but Captain Willington successfully withstood an attack from 2,200 soldiers.

The Shirley and Compton’s
From 1688 to 1754, the Shirleys then the Comptons held the Castle.  Neither of these noble families resided at the castle and made few changes.  During this period the castle was rented to a number of tenants.  An inventory exists dated 1730 that details all the possessions of a Walter Milward who rented the castle. 

 


Tudor Dining Room artists impression

Artists impression of the north wing of the Castle, with Bay windows installed c1590. 

    

Ferrers family, household bill 1608

Household bill 1608, October 12.

Click on the image to view the manuscript
 
See Line 16 for a reference to
communication between Robert Dudleys second wife Lettice Knollys and Lady Ferrers - 'given to my ladie leicesters gardener for peaches sent from his lady [to Lady Ferrers]. 

 

The Tudor Dining room

The Grand Tudor Dining Room.

This would have been a sumptuous room with the walls lined with leather and painted with guilt paint - a very expensive feature.

 

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