Fotheringhay Castle: Richard III & Mary Queen Of Scots

Fotheringhay Castle may not be much to look at now, but it was the locations of several important historical events, especially the birthplace of Richard III and where Mary Queen Of Scots was executed.

Here is our guide.

Where Is Fotheringhay Castle?

Where Is Fotheringhay Castle?

Fotheringhay Castle is located in the village of Fotheringhay, Northamptonshire, England.

It’s just to the west of Peterborough, about 85 miles north of London.

History of Fotheringhay Castle

Construction and Early History

Fotheringhay Castle: Richard III & Mary Queen Of Scots 1
Artist Impression Of Fotheringhay Castle In Medieval Times

The castle was originally built in the 12th century by Simon de Senlis, Earl of Northampton and was used for centuries as a royal residence.

The castle served as the seat of power for many years following its construction and drew visitors from all over Europe, who came to witness its grandeur.

The original structure was built with an oval-shaped motte surrounded by two baileys – one inner bailey which housed a great hall and chapel, and an outer bailey containing other buildings such as stables and warehouses. The castle also had an impressive stone keep that stood at the top of the motte.

Changes Over Time

Throughout its history, Fotheringhay Castle underwent several changes due to various events that occurred in England during this time period. During King John’s reign (1207-1216), he added more defensive features such as towers around the perimeter walls.

Additionally, King Edward III (1327-77) remodeled the keep into a more luxurious form when he used it for hunting trips.

In 1537, Henry VIII annexed it to his kingdom after giving it to Queen Elizabeth I as a gift; she made some improvements including adding gardens with trees along with building new lodgings within her private apartments.

Despite the castle’s size and importance, it was allowed to fall into disrepair during the 17th century and was demolished in the mid 1600s.

Historical Significance

Fotheringhay is known for a couple of major events:

Birthplace Of Richard III

The first event was the birth of one of history’s most (in)famous monarchs: Richard III.

In 1385 Edward III gave the castle to an Edmund Langley, who he also made the Duke of York. From the next few centuriries the castle was the principal residence of the Duke of York and his family.

In 1452 the most famous ‘Yorkist’ was born in the castle: the future Richard III. He would wage war over the crown with the rival Lancaster family, eventually losing to Henry Tudor at he Battle of Bosworth Field.

Execution Of Mary Queen Of Scots

Fotheringhay Castle: Richard III & Mary Queen Of Scots 2

In the late 1500s Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots and potential rival to Elizabeth I for the English crown, was executed in the castle’s Great Hall.

She had spent the previous 18 years imprisoned in various locations across the land, but was finally tried for treason and executed on 7 February 1587.

Visiting Fotheringhay Castle

Unlike many of the castles on this site, Fotheringhay isn’t much to look at now. It is mostly a ruin.

However, although much of the original structure has been destroyed or lost over time, there are still some parts that have survived such as sections of walls and towers which provide insight into how impressive this medieval fortress once looked.

Visitors can also view artifacts found at the site including coins dating back to before 1066 when William I invaded Britain as well as pottery shards discovered during archaeological excavations conducted around 1979-80s.

Other English Castles

motte and bailey castles

Motte And Bailey Castles In England (And The Rest Of The UK)

Motte and bailey castles were introduced to the UK in the 11th century by the invading Normans. Their design originated…

Castles of tudor history

The Castles Of Tudor History

Here are some of the castles involved in the bloody history of the Tudors… The Tudor period was a tumultuous…

Castle Howard | Brideshead Revisited’s Yorkshire Gem

Castle Howard | Brideshead Revisited’s Yorkshire Gem

Set in the rolling countryside of North Yorkshire, magnificent Castle Howard’s roots date back to the 18th century. Here’s our…

lindisfarne, northumberland, castle

Lindisfarne Castle: A Rugged Northumberland Gem

Lindisfarne Castle sits atop Beblowe Craig’s volcanic mound, on Holy Island off the Northumberland Coast. In this guide, we delve…

Oxford Castle

Oxford Castle | History, Architecture & How To Visit

Oxford Castle, located in the historic city of Oxford, England, is a great example of the rich history of the…

barnard castle

Barnard Castle: Imposing Fortress On The River Tees

Here’s our guide to Barnard Castle, an ancient fortress on the River Tees, in County Durham, in the north of…

Amberley Castle

Amberley Castle | Now A Luxurious West Sussex Hotel

Ever wanted to stay in a castle? Well, you can by staying in Amberley Castle in West Sussex – on…

5 castles to visit on a day trip to london

5 Castles That Make A Great Day Trip From London

Here are five great great castles that you can visit easily in a day from London. Perfect for a trip…

Discover The Charm Of Belvoir Castle: A Faux Historical Castle In Eastern England

Discover The Charm Of Belvoir Castle: A Faux Historical Castle In Eastern England

Belvoir Castle is a ‘faux historical’ castle in England’s East Midlands, overlooking several English counties in the picturesque Vale of…

Castle in Hever

Hever Castle | Anne Boleyn’s Childhood Home

Hever Castle is a beautiful medieval castle located in England and has been called one of the most romantic and picturesque buildings in…

tamworth castle

Tamworth Castle: A Norman Castle With A Saxon History

A little over 900 years ago, the first Tamworth castle was built overlooking the River Anker where it flows into…


Highclere Castle | Downton Abbey Meets Ancient Egypt

Highclere Castle is home to Crawleys on Downton Abbey & the Earls of Canarvon (one of whom funded finding Tutankhamun’s…

bolsover castle

Bolsover Castle | Peak District Fairytale Castle

Hidden away in the Peak District of Derbyshire, Bolsover Castle is a fairytale castle perfect for exploring, or combining a…

arundel castle

Arundel Castle | Ancestral Home of The Dukes Of Norfolk

Arundel Castle, which was built in the 11th century, is the historic home of the Dukes of Norfolk and has…

Durham Castle | Norman Castle Now Part Of Durham University

Durham Castle | Norman Castle Now Part Of Durham University

Durham Castle is a wonderful Norman castle in the centre of the North East England city of Durham, itself a…

Pontefract Castle

The Secrets of Pontefract Castle, England

Pontefract Castle: History, Significance and Visiting Guide Pontefract Castle, located in West Yorkshire, is now a ruin but in its…

norwich castle

Norwich Castle | East Anglian Norman Castle & Museum

If you’re looking for a fascinating day trip from London, Norwich Castle in England is the perfect place to explore.…

lincoln castle

Lincoln Castle | Home To The Magna Carta

Lincoln Castle in England is one of the best preserved Norman castles in existence. It was built by William the…

Ludlow Castle

Ludlow Castle – The Shrophire Home Of The Kingmaker

Ludlow Castle is a ruined medieval fortification in the town of Ludlow in the English county of Shropshire. It was…

Totnes Castle: An Architectural Gem In The Heart Of Devon

Totnes Castle: An Architectural Gem In The Heart Of Devon

Totnes Castle is the only castle in Devon (a county in the south west of England) that still has its…

scarborough castle

Scarborough Castle | Stronghold Overlooking North Sea

Scarborough Castle is a medieval castle located in the town of Scarborough, North Yorkshire, England. The castle sits high above…

Bodiam Castle

Bodiam Castle |  14th Century Moated Castle

Bodiam Castle, a beautiful and historic castle located in the South East of England, was built in 1385 by Sir…

Raby Castle

Raby Castle: A Fine Royal Day Out in England

Raby Castle is one of the most beautiful and historic castles in England. Situated in County Durham, Raby Castle has…

skipton castle

Skipton Castle | Well Preserved Yorkshire Castle

There are some incredible castles across England, each with its own story to tell, and Skipton Castle in Yorkshire is…

motte and bailey castles

Yorkshire Castles | Great Castles In The Northern County Of Yorkshire

Yorkshire Castles: Yorkshire in northern England is a rugged county known for its warm non-nonsense people and gorgeous countryside. It has lots…

windsor castle england

Windsor Castle | The Late Queen’s Favourite Home

Windsor Castle spans hundreds of years, starting with the original structure from the 11th century. From royal weddings to christenings,…

Carisbrooke Castle

Carisbrooke Castle | Magnificent Fortress On The Isle Of Wight, England

There are some incredible castles across the UK, and Carisbrooke Castle is one of them. This is a historic motte-and-bailey…

corfe castle

Corfe Castle | Wild Dorset Ruin

Corfe Castle sits of one of the steepest hills in Dorset, England, overlooking the village of Corfe on the Isle…


Tintagel: King Arthur’s Cornwall Castle?

Tintagel in Cornwall is mainly a ruin now – but many years ago it may have been the home of…

bamburgh castle

Bamburgh Castle | Magnificent Northumberland fortress

Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland is one of its largest inhabited castles, spanning over nine acres of land on its rocky…

Alnwick Castle | The Real Hogwarts In Northumberland

Alnwick Castle | The Real Hogwarts In Northumberland

(NB This post was originally published at Alnwick Castle – or the exterior of Hogwarts to Harry Potter fans…

Maiden Castle

Maiden Castle

Maiden Castle in Dorset is one of the largest and most complex Iron Age hillforts in Europe – the size…

Best Castles In England: Dover Castle

Dover Castle: Its History From William The Conqueror To The Modern Day

Dover Castle is one of the most iconic castles in England. It also has the distinction of being among the…

Leeds Castle, UK

Leeds Castle, Kent

Claiming to be the “loveliest castle in the world”, Leeds Castle in Kent (and, confusingly, nowhere near the city of…

Warwick Castle – Its History & Owners. Plus How To Stay There

Warwick Castle – Its History & Owners. Plus How To Stay There

Warwick Castle has been through a lot over the years. A few notable moments include when it was attacked in…

Click Here For More Castles > British Castles

Leave a Comment