© Margaret Manuell, 2015
A view of Tamworth town from the castle grounds
Although not oldest building in town (I think a tiny chapel in the Wigginton Road residential area dates back to the Saxons) Tamworth Castle is remarkable in that it was a family home from its beginnings until the late 19th century. Built by one of the Norman nobles given land by William I, the last man to conquer Britain, it was 'modernised' by each successive generation, and when the last residents, the Cookes were given notice to quit by their absent landlord Lord Townsend, the property was sold to Tamworth Town Council. This means it is intact, uncommonly for British castles which are usually complete or partial ruins, and today serves as a museum of Tamworth history.
© Margaret Manuell, 2014
Tamworth Castle from the lower gardens
This basically Norman building was not the first castle on this spot, for the town goes way back in history before then. During Saxon times, King Offa, in the 9th century, made Tamworth his capital, with its own minted coinage, and his castle would have been the mound (motte) with a pallisade enclosure (bailey) with dwellings and a tower.
Tamworth takes its name from the river Tame (nothing to do with the London river Thames - the word was perhaps the name for a river in an earier language), but there is another river runs through Tamworth, the Anker, which joins the Tame in the town, whereafter the river is called the Tame until it eventually becomes one of the tributaries of the Trent, eventually flowing into the Humber on the east coast of England and so into the North Sea. It is the Anker that I follow on my walk, still in the castle grounds, under the road bridges and into what used to be MacGregor Park, which bears the name of a local vicar and town benefactor (William MacGregor, a Scotsman, 1848 - 1937) who not only founded the Tamworth Co-Operative Society, and initiated the movement to raise the money to buy the castle and restore it for the enjoyment of the public; but also set up recreational and educational clubs for young people in the town. Fittingly, the park is now part of the castle grounds.
Before I finish my walk by completing the circuit to my home, I go underneath the Bolebridge Arches - a multi-arched railway bridge which has carried the Cross-Country rail line since 1839. The Trent Valley line which runs at low level through Tamworth station was built below the earlier line some ten years later. It was on the Trent Valley line that a horrific accident occured which sent a train hurtling into the River Anker, with fatalities and injuries. More at..