Exploring Ashby de la Zouch Castle – Leicestershire 

Exploring Ashby de la Zouch Castle – Leicestershire 

We are passionate about exploring as many historical buildings and properties as possible. We are fortunate to have so many wonderful places to visit near us. We have recently purchased English Heritage annual passes. Our passes arrived last week and the first place we decided to visit couldn’t have been any closer to home, in fact Ashby de la Zouch Castle is located just a short drive from our home.

Ashby de la Zouch is a small market town in Leicestershire. Nestled in the heart of the town is an impressive Grade 1 listed 12th century castle, with a rather colourful past.

Ashby Castle began life as a manor house in the 12th century. Built by the la Zouche family, the township now takes its unusual name from the family.

By the 15th century the land and house had been acquired by the Hastings family. Lord William Hastings set about creating a grand castle to sit at the heart of his 3000 acre deer park.

For the next two hundred years the castle was occupied by members of the Hastings family. Queen Anne is known to have visited and stayed within the castle walls during this period.

In the mid 17th century English Civil War had broken out. During the early years of the rebellion the castle was used as a stronghold for Royalists in the Midlands. By 1648 the Royalists had been defeated by Parlimentary forces and the castle had by surrendered and was then used to house prisoners. During a Royalist uprising the castle was partially destroyed in an attempt to thwart the effort. It was feared that the Royalist forces would try to reoccupy the castle.

Having suffered serious damage during the war the castle was subsequently repaired to form a smaller manor house called Ashby Place. This remained in the Hastings family until the 19th century when the Earl of Moira acquired the house and surrounding land. Having featured in Sir Walter Scotts hugely popular 1819 novel Ivanhoe the Earl made the decision to open Ashby Castle to the public. This was in an effort to attract visitors to the town and to the newly built Ivanhoe Baths.

Work continued through out the 19th and early 20th century to repair and preserve the ruins. Ashby de la Zouch Castle is now in the care of English Heritage and continues to attract thousands of visitors a each year.

Our visit

We first visited Ashby Castle about 3 years ago when L was much younger. We felt that was too young to really appreciate the building so we were really looking forward to visiting again. Thankfully the weather was in our favour. The castle which is very much a ruin has little in the way of shelter so we were thankful that the rain decided to stay away.

Parking onsite in free of charge. The carpark is quite small and is accessed by a rather bumpy road. Entry to the castle is through a small gift shop. We collected our free audio guide and made our way to the castle grounds.

There are no pathways to follow you are very much free to roam around the ruins. Sitting in the centre of the grounds is the very impressive four storey great tower. You are actually able to climb the 98 arduous steps to the top if you are feeling fit. The views are very impressive. I stayed at the bottom with L whilst Mr B climbed to the top.

We then headed down into the tunnel that links the tower to what would have been the kitchen. It is thought that this was constructed during the civil war. The tunnel is accessed via steep steps and is very well lit. We must have gone up and down at least three times!

We then explored the Great Hall, Kitchen and Chapel areas of the castle. Weaving in and out of the archways. It’s easy to lose yourself in thought about the people who once called Ashby Castle home.

The garden areas of the castle are a curiosity in themselves. Whilst covered by lawn now the contours and outlines of the once formal gardens and the unique and mysterious sunken gardens can still be seen. L loved running up and down the hills. Once he had exhausted himself we made our way to the other side of the castle grounds where there are some additional tower ruins.

There are signs dotted around that highlight the history of the castle. We found the audio guide very useful, L actually spent alot of time listening and began reciting the history of Ashby Castle out loud!

The grounds are surrounded by lush green trees that are beginning to change with the turn of the seasons. The area so beautiful and picaresque, so picturesque in fact that I was stung by nettles trying to get a photo of some mushrooms!

We spent around an hour and a half exploring Ashby Castle. I’m so pleased we decided to visit again. We will definitely be returning in the future.

Good to know

Entry Prices – correct as of September 2017

Adult – £5.60

Children – £3.40

Concession – £5.00

Family (2 Adults, 3 Children) – £14.60

English Heritage Members – included in pass price

Entry times vary throughout the year. We recommend that you check the website for details.

There is a small gift shop onsite which sells cold and hot drinks as well as a few snacks. There are also toilets available.

English Heritage properties in Leicestershire

There are a number of fantastic English Heritage properties to visit in Leicestershire.

Kirkby Muxloe Castle

Located 4 miles from Leicester this impressive moated mansion house dates from the 15th century. Open from March to September this is a must see!

Jewry Wall

In the heart of Leicester city lies Jewry Wall. One of the largest surviving pieces of Romans masonry in the country. Open from February to October.

We can wait to start exploring many more of the 400 fascinating English Heritage properties. We really recommend signing up for an annual pass. You could pay at little as £8 per month for a family pass!

Thank you for reading

L x

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Disclaimer – this is not a paid review. We purchased our own English Heritage passes. Our opinions and thoughts are our own



  1. V

    What a great review! Looks like a very interesting place to visit.

    • Thank you for the lovely comment! The castle is amazing piece of English history!

  2. /

    What an incredible place to visit. I love your pics of the tunnel. It might have made me nervous to wander through there. #CountryKids

    • It’s a really amazing place to visit. I was a bit nervous I have to admit but the tunnel is well lit so it wasn’t too bad 🙂

  3. I’ve often wondered what it was like there, it’s not far from my best friends and would make a good afternoon trip from her place I think looking at your post #CountryKids

    • Its definitely worth visiting! Ashby is a lovely town with lots to see and do 🙂

  4. I think I’d have been a little scared of the tunnel too but it looks like you had a really beautiful day. Thanks for linking up to #MondayEscapes

    • I was nervous to begin with but it’s so interesting down there I couldn’t resist a look. It was a fantastic day out 🙂

  5. I’m also a huge fan of visiting historical buildings and places, so this, and the English Heritage pass would totally be up my alley if I were in England! While your photos of the castle and the mushrooms are so beautiful, my favourite pic has got to be the one of L running in the garden! You captured his energy so well!

    • Thank you for your lovely comment! L definitely enjoyed running free in the gardens. Lots of wide open space. We are really fortunate to have this amazing place on our doorstep 🙂

  6. /

    This looks a great castle to visit, love all your photo’s my little one would love running free through the grounds exploring all the nooks and crannies! looks like you all had a fab time too! xx

    • It’s a really great and interesting place to visit. Lots of curiosities for little ones and lots of space to run wild 🙂

  7. I’m halfway through the Famous Five books with my son, he loves castles but this one with a tunnel would be amazing to visit as every other FF book involves a secret tunnel and a mysterious building..! #explorerkids

    • We have just started reading the Famous Five books!! The castle is definitely somewhere to let your imagination run wild!!

  8. /

    Castles are amazing! We don’t have many of them around where we live though 🙂 #ExplorerKids

    • We are very fortunate to have so many historic buildings near us!!

  9. This looks like a great day out – just the sort of place I like to visit. I hope you get lots of use out of your pass. #ExplorerKids

    • We are definitely enjoying having our passes. It’s great to have the castle on our doorstep!

  10. I didn’t know Ashby de la Zouch had a castle! Looks like a great place for learning about local history #countrykids

    • We thoroughly recommend a visit if your in the area. It’s a great place for kids to explore and learn!

    • Th3 ruins are so well preserved! English Heritage have ensured that much survives for people to enjoy and learn hopefully for years to come

  11. Great photos – Ashby de la Zouch sounds so exotic lol. Those mushrooms are called birch polypores they are really cool. Sarah #ExplorerKids

    • Ah thank you so much for identifying the mushrooms. So interesting I couldnt resist a look! Haha Ashby certainly does have an exotic sounding name. You have no idea how many times I have to spell it to people lol

  12. Such beautiful photos, I am not sure I am brave enough for the stairs I hate castle stairs I get dizzy but would love to see the tunnels thanks so much for linking up #mondayescapes x

    • I have to admit I was a bit nervous about the tunnel and stairs but our little one was up and down so it certainly helped my fears lol

  13. What a magnificent structure which you have captured so beautifully in the autumn sunshine. The brick work is amazing and must have been quite a statement castle in its day. What a shame royal fighting saw part of the collapse. If walls could talk these would have quite a tale to tell! A great insight into the history and what a wonderful green surround for kids to run off steam. The tunnels and kitchen would have been the highlight for me.

    Thank you for sharing with me on #CountryKids

    • Thank you your lovely comment! We really recommend a visit to Ashby Castle if your in the area. It’s a fascinating place to explore and learn 🙂

  14. What an impressive ruin, I love visiting places like this! So much history, just fascinating. Love the look of the tunnels, my kids would have loved them 🙂 #countrykids

    • The castle is really a fascinating place to visit! The tunnels were a big hit with our son! 🙂

  15. /

    I do love history and ruins. Thanks for sharing. #ExplorerKids

    • It’s certainly a wonderful castle for history and the ruins are pretty special 🙂