Fifteen miles west of Salisbury, and set beside a lake in the lovely Wiltshire countryside, the castle was built in the 14th century as a luxury residence for the 5th Lord Lovell. Following Francis Lovell’s doomed support for Richard III, the castle was eventually bought by Sir Thomas Arundell, a prominent catholic landowner.
Today, it is a place of peace and tranquillity, but 500 years ago the peace was shattered by shouting and the sounds of cannon and musket fire when the castle was besieged by Cromwell’s troops.
With her husband away fighting for the king, Lady Blanche Arundell defended the castle for several days before surrendering. The victorious troops ransacked the castle and then garrisoned it for a year until Lady Blanche’s son laid siege. A surrender was forced but not before a large part of his ancestral home had accidentally been blown up.
The family eventually built a new castle nearby, now private apartments, but left the original as an ornamental feature.
A grade 1 listed building, it is in the care of English Heritage, who have done much in recent years to improve access to the upper floors. An audio tour included in the ticket price tells the story of Wardour’s eventful past and the Civil War fighting, as well as giving a detailed explanation of the use of each room.
The 1991 film, “Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves” featuring Kevin Costner was partly filmed at the old castle.