Broughton Castle is a fortified manor house with a large moat close to Banbury in Oxfordshire. On your visit you can explore the gardens, stop for a bite in the tearooms and take a look inside the house, which was built in the 14th century.
It is also worth noting that it is made out of local Hornton ironstone and has remained with the same family since 1447. Today, Martin Fiennes (also known as the Baron Saye and Sele), lives there with his wife and family and has done so for 40 years.
The main parts of the house were built in 1306 by Sir John de Broughton, but most of what still stands now, dates back to the last 50 years of the 16th century when it was extended. The decorative ceilings, panelling and grand fireplaces around the castle are all from this time but the house has been through many stages of restoration and repair. The most recent works were done by Nathaniel Fiennes (21st Lord Saye and Sele) on the stonework from 1983 to 1994, which you can admire today.
It’s refreshing to see that this castle is still very much a family home and has not been heavily commercialized like many others. You can see the warmth in the family photos from over the years all around the house, which is a great chance to learn more about Broughton’s owners.
Broughton is steeped with history, especially its link with the famous Battle of Edgehill in 1642. Part of the English Civil War (1642-1646) fought between the Royalists and the Parliamentry Artillery, this bloody conflict sparked when King Charles and the Parliament bitterly disagreed over the English Constitution. Around this time, Broughton was secretly used by anti-royalist William Fiennes (8th Baron Saye and Sele) as an undercover spot for meetings with the King’s other enemies. William also lead a regiment during the war and he fought with his four sons in the nearby Battle of Edgehill, after which Broughton ended up being captured by the other side. The history of Broughton is handy to keep in mind when visiting, as you can see armour and arms from the Civil War years in the Great Hall.
According to Celia Fiennes, the house was left to ‘decay and ruin’ after it was captured, and it stayed this way until the architect George Gilbert Scott set to work on it again in the 1860s.
Before you leave, don’t forget to see the Ladies Garden, where nepetas, ‘aunt mays’ and delphinium pacific hybrids, digitalis grandifloras grow next to other shrubs, borders and colourful roses. There is also the Gothic-style Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin. This 14th-century building is Grade II listed and is just across from the castle.
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