Astley Castle

Nuneaton, Warwickshire - Sleeps 8

About the property

Groundbreaking modern accommodation has been inserted within the ruined walls of this ancient moated site to combine  the thrill of modern architecture with the atmosphere of an ancient place. Large glass walls now frame views of medieval stonework and the adjacent church and surrounding countryside.

Dog Beds 2 Twin, 2 Double

  • Sleeps8
  • 4 nights from from£871
  • equivalent to £27.22 per person per night

Winner of the RIBA Stirling Prize for Architecture 2013

One of our most popular properties, Astley is solidly booked until the end of 2016. We will open bookings for 2017 in September 2015. The living accommodation is on the first floor and the bedrooms and bathrooms on the ground floor. A lift enables easy access for all.

Owned by three Queens of England

Astley Castle and its inhabitants have witnessed, and occasionally moulded, significant events in our national history. Dating back to the 13th century the site has been owned by three Queens of England. The local area is also rich in history, with Coventry and Warwick both close by.

A Landmark for the 21st century

The castle was on the verge of collapse after a fire in 1978 and far beyond a conventional restoration project. We held an architectural competition to design a Landmark for the 21st century, where unequivocally modern living accommodation was clasped within the shell of the ancient Castle.  We aimed for the best modern architecture, unashamedly but sympathetically stitched into ancient fabric, today’s craftsmen and women linking hands with their predecessors.

Continuing a millennium of occupation

Astley Castle became a cause célèbre for us. This ancient moated site first came to our attention in the 1990s, when we tried, and failed, to find a workable solution for it. It grieves us to admit defeat, and in the year of our 40th anniversary, we returned to Astley, for another go at finding a way to continue a millennium of occupation. It was already too late to do more than consolidate the ruins that were left after the disastrous fire in 1978, so unusually drastic measures were called for.  The rapturous reactions of those who have stayed there seem to justify our boldness.   Astley has history in abundance waiting for you, but it is as likely that it is the melding of ancient and modern that will linger most in the mind after your stay.

Floor Plans

‘Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the transformation of Astley Castle from a ruin to a gem must represent the crowning achievement of the Landmark Trust.’

From the logbook

Map & local info

A long narrow drive separates the small village of Astley from Astley Castle and the charming church of St. Mary the Virgin. From the windows of the Castle you have views over the old pleasure gardens which now have footpaths around them.

Astley Castle
Nuneaton, Warwickshire - Sleeps 8
Clear directions

Places to visit nearby

Astley Book Farm

Coventry Cathedral

Bosworth Battlefield

Nuneaton Museum & Art Gallery

Kenilworth & Warwick Castles

Coventry Transport Museum

Arbury Hall (open bank holidays)

Stratford upon Avon

The RSC Theatre

Royal Leamington Spa

NEC and the NIA Birmingham

Drayton Manor Park

Twycross Zoo

Tamworth Castle

‘Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the transformation of Astley Castle from a ruin to a gem must represent the crowning achievement of the Landmark Trust.’

From the logbook

Your questions answered

    What you need to know about this building

  • Does the property allow dogs?

    Yes.
  • How is the property accessed?

    By a driveway from the main road.
  • What is the nearest railway station and how far away is it?

    Nuneaton – 5 miles.
  • Is there car parking specifically for Landmark guests?

    Yes, four spaces about 20m from the property.
  • What type of heating does the property have?

    Heating is provided by an air source heat pump and underfloor heating. There is an open fire in the courtyard and also a woodburning stove.

  • How can I get fuel for the open fire or stove?

    Logs may be purchased and delivered under a private arrangement. Further details will be provided with your booking confirmation.
  • What are the kitchen facilities?

    The kitchen is fully equipped with all plates, cutlery, fridge etc.
    There is also an electric cooker, separate freezer and dishwasher.
  • What are the bathroom facilities?

    There are three bathrooms in total.
    Two bathrooms have free-standing shower units and one bathroom has a bath.
  • Does this Landmark have steep, narrow or spiral stairs?

    No – but there is a lift for those with limited mobility
  • Is there a garden or outside space?

    There are open grounds. The unfenced moat which surrounds the castle can fill with water during heavy rainfall.

    Booking and Payment

  • Can I pay a deposit?

    If your stay starts more than three months from the date you make the booking, you are required to pay a deposit of one third of the cost of your stay (or £100 per booking, if greater) at the time of booking. Camping on Lundy must be paid for in full at the time of booking.
  • How can I pay?

    We accept Maestro (if issued in the UK), Visa, MasterCard, direct transfer and sterling cheques drawn on a UK bank. Cheques should be made payable to the Landmark Trust except for Lundy stays and boat/helicopter tickets which should be payable to The Lundy Company Ltd. All payments must be in sterling.
  • How do I pick up the key?

    There are various arrangements for picking up keys. To arrange to get into the Landmark, please contact the housekeeper at least two days before your stay
  • How can I cancel or change my booking?

    If you wish to cancel or change your booking, please contact our Booking Office on 01628 825925
  • What if I arrive late?

    Please let the housekeeper know if you are going to arrive late and s/he will leave a key for you in a suitable place.
  • Do you accept payment in other currencies?

    At the moment we only accept payment in sterling.
  • How far in advance do I need to book?

    It depends. Some of our most popular Landmarks are booked up a long time in advance, but many can be booked at short notice. We will always have Landmarks free for the coming weekend so it’s always worth checking our availability list.
  • Do you have to be a member to book a Landmark?

    No, Landmarks are available to be booked for anyone.
  • Do I need a Handbook to be able to book?

    No, all the information you need can be found on our website, although we’d like you to buy one anyway as it will be a pleasure to own!
  • What happens if I can’t get to the Landmark due to bad weather?

    If the weather is bad, please contact our booking office who will advise you as to whether the Landmark is accessible. If the housekeeper can safely get to the building to carry out the changeover then we consider that it is open and available. However if we cannot undertake a changeover then we will do our utmost to transfer your stay to another Landmark, which may not be of a similar size or in the same part of the country as your original booking.

    Staying at a Landmark

  • Are Landmarks only available as self-catering accommodation?

    Yes, Landmarks are only available as self-catering accommodation. We do not offer bed and breakfast.
  • Do you provide catering?

    Landmark does not provide catering, but we can recommend Greycoat Lumleys who can arrange for expert and well-trained staff to cater for one evening or for your entire holiday. Their cooks and chefs are able to work with you to meet your specific requirements
  • Do you allow dogs?

    You may bring up to two dogs to properties where dogs are allowed (please see specific property details for exemptions however dogs are not permitted on Lundy except assistance dogs). They must be kept off the furniture and under proper control.
  • Can I bring a pet?

    Apart from two dogs (see above) no other pets are permitted.
  • Insured if I break something?

    We do not carry insurance for breakages. However we appreciate that accidents do sometimes happen. If you have a breakage during your stay, please let the housekeeper know and if appropriate we reserve the right to invoice you accordingly.
  • Are Landmarks suitable for children?

    Yes, most of our Landmarks are perfect for children, with gardens to play in and secret places to discover. Our furniture is surprisingly robust and we positively encourage families to stay. However, some of our buildings may not be suitable for small children; for example, some of them have steep or uneven spiral staircases. We recommend that you call the Booking Enquiries team if you would like to find out the suitability of any of our Landmarks for young children.
  • Are Landmarks accessible for people with disabilities or limited mobility?

    Some of our Landmarks are suitable for people with disabilities or limited mobility. However, many Landmarks have steep or narrow staircases, uneven floors and thresholds, changes of level, low ceilings or beams, as well as indistinct colours on steps and in corridors. We recommend that you call Booking Enquiries if you would like to find out the suitability of a particular Landmark for anyone with a specific disability.
  • Can I get married in a Landmark?

    Unfortunately, most of our Landmarks are not licensed for weddings. However, you may get married on Lundy.
  • Can I hold a big party in a Landmark?

    All our larger Landmarks are perfect for gatherings of family or friends. You may invite an additional two guests to visit you during your stay, however they must not stay overnight. This is very important because our fire regulations specifically note the maximum number of people in any one building. In addition our properties are prepared, furnished and equipped for the number of people specified and greater numbers cause damage and excessive wear and tear to vulnerable buildings. Should this condition be ignored we shall make a retrospective charge per person per day (whether or not they stay overnight) for each guest over the permitted limit, the charge being pro-rated on the total cost of your booking.
  • Is it true there are no televisions in the buildings?

    We deliberately do not provide televisions and find that most people appreciate this.
  • Why are your access tracks sometimes difficult?

    One of the challenges of restoring unloved buildings is gaining access to them. We frequently have to negotiate rights with our neighbours and share tracks with them. In many cases tracks do not belong to us and we have no right to maintain them. Wherever possible we work with our neighbours to provide you with a good quality surface, but where this is a problem then you will be warned at the time of booking.
  • Will there be sockets for my electrical appliances?

    Yes, we have standard electricity sockets for UK appliances. If you are coming from outside the UK, you will need to bring your own adaptor plug(s).

    Facilities

  • Are the kitchens and bathrooms restored to a modern standard?

    Sometimes our kitchens and bathrooms have to be imaginatively fitted into the available space in buildings where before there were none, but they are all planned and equipped to a high and modern standard.
  • Is linen provided?

    Yes, Landmarks are fully equipped with sheets and towels. All the beds are fully made up for your arrival.
  • Are the kitchens fully equipped?

    Yes, our kitchens are well equipped with cookers and fridges. There are freezers and dishwashers (in larger buildings) and, where space allows, microwaves as well as a wide and standard range of utensils. A full equipment list is available at time of booking.
  • Do you provide logs for the open fire/stove?

    Logs are provided at many of our Landmarks for an additional cost.
  • Will there be a mobile signal in the Landmark I book?

    Mobile coverage varies. Some Landmarks have an excellent signal, but others have none at all. If you are concerned, you can check with the housekeeper before your arrival.
  • Is there Wi-Fi in your buildings?

    No. At the moment, we have decided not to implement Wi-Fi in our buildings following a consultation with our customers. Many said that they would find it useful, but many also felt that it would somehow damage the experience of staying in a Landmark. As the responses were so split, and as we have so many other initiatives requiring funding, we have decided to put this on hold for the time being.
  • What should I bring with me? Are there lavatory rolls, soap, shampoo, milk, teabags, coffee, hairdryer?

    A welcome tray with tea and sugar awaits your arrival and you will find a pint of milk in the fridge. We also provide lavatory rolls and a bar of soap, per basin but no other toiletries. We do not provide hairdryers.

A fortified manor

Strictly speaking a fortified manor more than a castle, the site at Astley Castle has been in continuous occupation since the Saxon period. As Grade II* listed, the castle is counted of national significance. Its site includes the moated castle, gateway and curtain walls, lake, church and the ghost of pleasure gardens in a picturesque landscape.


The early castle

By the early 12th century it was held by Philip de Estlega [Astley] from the Earl of Warwick. Philip’s grandson Thomas de Estleye was killed at the Battle of Evesham fighting with Simon de Montfort in 1265. The Castle was crenellated and moated in 1266, when it briefly changed hands before reverting to the Astleys. In 1338 Sir Thomas Astley founded a chantry in the adjacent parish church to pray for the family’s souls. In 1343 Thomas converted this to a college of priests and funded an extensive rebuilding programme of which only the chancel survives. 

By 1420 the manor had passed through marriage to the Grey family and became entangled with the succession to the throne of England, thus earning its association with three queens of England.

Yorkist queens

The first Yorkist queen, Elizabeth Woodville, probably lived at Astley in the mid 15th century as Sir John Grey’s wife. Grey died fighting for the Lancastrians at the Battle of St Albans in 1461 during the Wars of the Roses. As a young widow Elizabeth caught the eye of Edward IV, the Yorkist claimant to the throne. She became his queen and bore him the ill-fated young princes who later died in the Tower. The second Astley queen was the daughter of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, known as Elizabeth of York, who became wife of Henry VII.

Lady Jane Grey

It was under the Greys in the late 15th century that the Castle achieved its most mature form. However, after the death of Edward VI in July 1553, Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk seized the initiative and placed his daughter, Lady Jane Grey, on the throne. Jane’s reign lasted just nine days, before Mary I’s superior claims prevailed. Both Jane and later her father were beheaded for treason – Lord Grey rebelled a second time in January 1554 and was captured in a hollow oak tree at Astley.

Later construction

In 1600, the Castle was bought by Sir Edward Chamberlain. The Chamberlains restored the church and improved the Castle.  During the Civil War in the 1640s, Astley became a garrison for Parliamentary soldiers. In 1674 Astley Castle was bought by the Newdigate family, who owned the neighbouring Arbury Estate, and the Castle became a subsidiary dwelling. In the 1770s, a Sir John Astley leased the Castle briefly and was responsible for the construction of the stables and coach house, together with his landlord, Sir Roger Newdigate 5th Bart, who was transforming Arbury Hall into the Gothick masterpiece we see today.

Inspiration for George Eliot

In the 19th century, Astley Castle became a dower house and was then let to a succession of tenants. It also inspired writer George Eliot, born Mary Ann Evans, who grew up on the Arbury Estate where her father was an agent. Astley is said to be the model for Knebley in Eliot’s Scenes of Clerical Life (1857). Eliot drew inspiration for several of her characters from those she grew up with.

An endangered site

Requisitioned during World War II for convalescing service men, a dilapidated Astley Castle was restored by the Tunnicliffes in the 1950s as a hotel. The Castle completed its slide from grace when it was gutted by a mysterious fire in 1978, just days after its lease had expired. Vandalism, unauthorised stripping out and collapse made its plight still worse. For many years, no solution could be found to give it a future and Astley Castle became a ruin. By 2007 English Heritage had listed it as one of the sixteen most endangered sites in Britain and a solution was urgently needed.

A Landmark for the 21st century

In the late 1990s, the Landmark Trust had tried to provide the site with a viable future through its usual solution of conventional restoration and conversion for holidays, but the site is so complex that such an approach proved impractical, both technically (there were no internal finishes or fixtures left to restore) and financially. In 2005, Landmark proposed a more radical solution: to reinstate occupancy of Astley Castle in a manner appropriate for the 21st century.

An architectural competition was held, the brief accepting that some parts of the Castle were now beyond restoration, but which sought to create good modern accommodation within the ancient ruins. The winning scheme, by architects Witherford Watson Mann, maintains the sense of life and living within the Castle, while making the most of the views both into and out of the site.

After careful recording, those parts of the building beyond pragmatic repair were taken down. The new-build introduced also consolidates and ties together what could be saved of the original fabric as unobtrusively as possible, leaving the Castle’s form in the landscape largely unchanged.  There was further work on the wider setting, including repairs to the curtain walls and moat, and the 18th-century Gothick stable block. The historic parkland surrounding the moated site, much of which is a Scheduled Monument, has been opened up with public trails.

The Heritage Lottery Fund supported the restoration including an Access & Involvement Programme which enabled many people to learn about and help with the project. The British Trust for Conservation Volunteers was active in site clearance and landscaping. Numerous schools visited and Astley Art Club was estblished with an artists in residence programme. Another competition was held to create a new knot garden, replacing a feature that had existed on the site in some form since the late 17th century. The new one echoes Astley’s ‘Three Queens.’ Astley Castle can finally face its future with confidence again, thanks too to all who will stay in it and so contribute towards its future maintenance.



                  

Select a changeover day to start your booking...

QuestionWhat's a changeover day? and Why can't I select other dates?

A changeover day is a particular day of the week when holidays start and end at our properties. These tend to be on a Friday or a Monday but can sometimes vary. All stays run from one changeover day until another changeover day.