Visitors to the Castle will immediately understand why William the Conqueror ordered a Castle to be built here. With its magnificent views across the Welland Valley this stronghold was crucial in helping William subdue his new kingdom. As well as a fortress the Castle was an important seat of government, the Great Council of Rockingham being held here in 1095.
Many medieval Kings came to Rockingham Castle. Richard the Lion Heart played host to his Scottish counterpart here and his unpopular brother John came frequently to hunt in Rockingham Forest. Indeed on his last journey north John left his treasure chest in the Great Hall, giving rise to the legend that his crown jewels are buried at Rockingham and not in the muddy wastes of the Wash.
Henry VIII granted the Castle to Edward Watson, ancestor of the present owner James Saunders Watson, who converted the medieval fortress into a comfortable Tudor house. His portrait hangs in the Hall alongside Mary Boleyn, the sister of one of Henry’s unlucky wives. Queen Elizabeth I’s portrait also hangs there surrounded by her Courtiers Cecil, Howard and Dudley.