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.


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