I have wanted to have a proper walk around the castle for a couple of years. It is the closet Grade I listed building to where I live and as a bone fide, moated and turreted castle has held my interest for a long time. The setting is quintessentially English postcard picturesque within a quiet village sitting alongside two churches, St. Peter’s and St Filumena’s.
An adaptation of its name, Caureswelle was mentioned within the Domesday Book, the origins of which are thought to derive from the Saxon word Walle, meaning well or spring, found on his land by Cafhere – Cafheres-walle.
Prior to the Norman Conquest Caverswall had been held by Wulfgeat. By 1086 it was held by an important Norman Knight- Robert de Stafford. Robert’s tenant was Arnulf of Hesdin. While we pause to reflect on the significance of the history of the village, combined with its present day and historical centralised transport links (the A50 was once a Roman Road) the unveiling of the story that that is about to unfold, will come as no surprise.
Legend states that a castle once stood in Caverswall pre Anglo-Saxon times, hosting King Arthur who heroically rescued the ‘lady of the castle’ from danger on one occasion.
While it is unknown as to who the ‘White Lady of Caverswall’ is, it is presumed it was his future Queen, Guinevere. A further royal romance is said to have blossomed within Caverswall, with King Alfred’s Queen having resided in the village.
The original Castle was built on the site of an Anglo-Saxon Manor in 1275 by Sir William de Caverswall, who was bailiff during the reign of Henry I (1100-1135 AD). The Castle remained in the de Caerswall family until 1398 when it passed into the hands of the Montgomeries.
In 1615 the castle was rebuilt by Matthew Cradock a merchant turned country gentleman who employed an architect (probably John Smythson) to construct a new house incorporating the remains of the original castle. Cradock restored and adapted much of the medieval work. Elements of the medieval castle retained include the square tower at the western end of the building, while the angle towers and curtain wall were probably restored at this time and were reduced from their former height. The gatehouse was also restored by Craddock, although the medieval bridge over the moat was replaced.
In 1643 during the war between King Charles and his Parliament, the Castle became a stronghold and garrison for the Parliamentary Army. Today the castle is grade 1 listed and has been on the market for several years having been completely restored.
In the 1880s the castle was rented by the Wedgwood family. In 1891 it was purchased by W.E. Bowers who carried out extensive renovations and much improved the property. W.A. Bowers then sold it in 1933 to the Sisters of the Holy Ghost, who in turn sold it in 1965 to another convent, the Daughters of the House of Mary.
The castle includes 18 bedrooms, 9 reception rooms, 13 bathrooms, a huge moat and a dungeon. There are also three converted turret cottages — self-contained living quarters with bedrooms and lounges overlooking the moat. These must be just about the most fantastic, tranquil places to be during a warm summers evening in the whole of Staffordshire.
It remains one of my ambitions to have a thorough look inside at some point