All mod cons. Good view. Spacious and secure living space. Long drive with plentiful parking. Reasonable rent.
Do you fancy this? Fabulous estate-agent lingo for – guess where? Tamworth Castle. Yes, you too could be ‘Lord of the Manor’ in 1861.
Originally built circa 1090 as a motte and bailey castle possibly by William the Conqueror’s steward Robert de Spencer (an ancestor of Diana Spencer aka Princess Diana), it was owned by a succession of families; the Ferrers, Shirleys, Comptons and Townshends. In the middle of the eighteenth century, the Townshends updated and modernised the castle (which meant making it look older and more fairy-tale like!) spent a fortune and, in a nutshell, by the middle of the nineteenth century, had to rent it out.
In 1861, 42 year old gardenerJohn Asbury and his wife, Jane, both Tamworth born, lived here. Their neighbours were a motley bunch of horse drivers, cotton weavers, servants and coal miners – not at all the upper echelons of society…
Fast forward ten years and the tenants were the Cooke family. Thomas, a 50 year old widower, was a wholesale clothier and landowner employing 1000 hands. Living with him were his four children plus footman, cook and housemaid. His neighbours down the hill were not-so-toffee-nosed miners and coachmen. In 1881, Thomas is still slumming it up at the Castle and the records are more enlightening and certainly easier to read. Aged 60, he is a tailor and clothier ‘employing 650 hands and farmer of 220 acres employing 8 men and 5 boys.’ His unmarried daughter and two sons (who worked in the family business) still lived with him and, ministering to their every needs, were the cook and two housemaids.
A clothier, by the way, could either be a glorified tailor, draper, running a shop or a man who owned factories making cloth and/or clothes. Not having done much research on this particular family, I suspect he owned a large tailoring company. I would love to hear from any descendants and update this blog.
In 1897, the Castle was sold to Tamworth Corporation for £3,000. Two years later it became a museum and was opened to the public. Sorry, but you missed your chance to live like a king.