July’s Letter from the Curator (2018)

Dear Friends

Well, haven’t we been blessed with such beautiful weather! The sun has come out just in time for the start of our high season. This is the time when the castle truly comes alive. I revel in the knowledge that the castle is open every day of the week, except for Mondays, as this gives many people the opportunity to visit the castle and enjoy the breath-taking surroundings!

We have experienced a very busy June! It was a pleasure to welcome so many people to the castle. We had beautiful weddings, scrumptious cream teas and many curious children exploring the castle on school trips. Whether they were listening in amazement to Gloriana herself, Queen Elizabeth I, or having a giggle with our Knight in Armour, we are touched to think that we brought history alive for them and instilled a fascination about the past!

Whilst June was very busy, we have no plans for slowing down in July! There are a number of public events taking place this month. The castle will host a range of different historical characters for both evening buffets and cream teas. Come and listen to highly entertaining and meticulously researched talks from Katherine Swynford, Richard III, Peggy Knight. Tickets must be booked in advance and can be purchased through our website. Preparations are also underway for our Fairytale Weekend Saturday 25th- Monday 27th August 2018. Come and join in the magic! Tickets are available now!

Whilst the Castle Team is very busy, ensuring that everything is of the highest quality for visitors, they still find time to enjoy the beauty of the castle. I would like to share this particular photograph with you.

This was captured near the tea room by our groundsman, Ben. I am struck not only by the beauty of the picture but also by the historical significance of it. For the red rose symbolises not just love, but also the Lancastrian side of the Wars of the Roses, a devastating conflict between family members in the royalty and nobility in the late 15th Century. It’s hard to think of this peaceful building being present at such a turbulent time, but it was and indeed it even contributed to this civil war!

For after the First Battle of St Albans in 1455, the event which most historians state was the start of the Wars of the Roses, Margaret of Anjou stayed in Tutbury Castle. It was here that she rallied much of the Midlands and the North to the Lancastrian cause. For Margaret faced many difficulties as her time as queen. Her husband, Henry VI, was a very ineffective king- he was easily manipulated by his councillors and more interested in piety and education than ruling his country! This gave power to Richard, Duke of York, a powerful nobleman who had a claim to the throne. Richard campaigned to become king in weak King Henry’s place. With her husband and young son’s titles in jeopardy, Margaret took action. She rallied troops to her cause and created a powerful council for her son, Prince Edward. Margaret was a shrewd political player and a significant threat to Richard, Duke of York and later, Edward, Earl of March (future Edward IV). Years of instability had made her a powerful figure. She even made Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, the ‘King Maker’, kneel before her for fifteen minutes before agreeing to an alliance with him!

Despite her exceptional life, Margaret of Anjou remains a relatively unknown figure. This is why places such as Tutbury Castle are so important- they give voice to the people of the past. This year marks 950 years since this site was first used to house a castle. It has been here for so many significant events which have shaped this country’s identity- if only the castle walls could talk! The stories they would have! Margaret’s memory lives on at the castle. The North Tower was built between 1457 and 1460, in the midst of the Wars of the Roses, and was referred to during the 16th Century as ‘Queen Margaret’s Tower’. When you visit the castle, take a moment to consider the years that it has witnessed, the stories of the people who have walked where you are standing. You’ll be amazed at what you can discover.

 

Best Wishes
Lesley Smith, Curator.