This great 15th century red brick tower we see today is considered as being one of
the finest examples of medieval brickwork in the country.
It was probably built on the foundations of an earlier castle/fortified manor house built around 1231,
on which date Robert de Tateshale was granted a licence to crenelate.
By about 1420 Ralph Lord Cromwell, veteran of the Battle of Agincourt, soon began leading an active political life, the climax of his career being the appointment to Treasurership of England.
This lofty status was probably the motive behind building his new castle.
Between the years 1430 and 1450 Lord Cromwell put the work of building the castle complex, and its great five storeyed, 130ft tower, in the hands of Baldwin the Dutchman. Baldwin is said to have come from the Low Countries or the Baltic lands where the building of brick fortifications were quite usual. The designer is unknown but it probably would have been Baldwin. The making of bricks was overseen by him. They were made from local materials and, it is thought, nearly one million of them were used in the construction.
After Ralph Lord Cromwell died in 1456 the castle was inherited by his niece, Joan Bouchier but was confiscated by the Crown on her husband’s death.
By 1911 it had fallen into neglect until it was bought and restored by Lord Curzon of Kedleston who then left it the National Trust on his death in 1925.
It still remains one of the most important surviving brick castles of the 15th century
and is open to the public.
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