Old Wardour Castle

Old Wardour Castle in Wiltshire can be visited as part of the Wonders of Wessex independent walking holiday

Wardour Castle is located at Wardour, near Tisbury in Wiltshire, 15 miles (24 km) west of Salisbury. The original castle was partially destroyed during the Civil War.

On our Wonders of Wessex and 2 or 3 centre based Hart of the Cranborne Chase Independent Walking Holidays, you will approach the castle through High Wood along a path that takes you through a stone archway. You will hardly see the castle until you emerge out of the trees into the open space occupied by the castle and lake. Wardour Castle is managed by English Heritage and is open to the public.

An audio tour, included in the ticket price, tells of Old Wardour’s eventful past and the fighting it saw during the Civil War. The badly damaged castle became a fashionable romantic ruin, and in the 18th century was incorporated into the landscaped grounds of the New Wardour House (not managed by English Heritage, no public access to New Wardour House or grounds). The castles, old and new, have featured in several movies. The Old Castle appeared in the 1991 Kevin Costner feature Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and the New Castle served as the dance school in Billy Elliot. The cover of Sting’s album Ten Summoner’s Tales was photographed inside Old Wardour Castle.

The castle was built using locally quarried Tisbury greensand after Baron Lovell had been granted permission by Richard II in 1392. It was inspired by the hexagonal castles in fashion in parts of the Continent, particularly France; its design being unique in the UK.

Following the fall of the Lovell family, the castle passed through several owners until being bought by Sir Thomas Arundell of Lanherne in 1544. The castle was confiscated when Sir Thomas, a staunch Roman Catholic, was executed for treason in 1552, but was later acquired by his son, Sir Matthew Arundell. The Arundell’s were Royalists during the English Civil War. Thomas Arundell Second Baron Arundell of Wardour was away from home on the King’s business and had asked his wife, Lady Blanche Arundell, aged 61, and with a garrison of 25 trained fighting men to defend the castle. On 2 May 1643 Sir Edward Hungerford, with 1,300 men of the Parliamentary Army, demanded admittance to search for Royalists. He was refused and laid siege to the castle, turning his guns on the walls and attempted to undermine the walls by mines. After five days the castle was threatened with complete destruction and Lady Blanche agreed to surrender. The castle was placed under the command of Colonel Edmund Ludlow. Lord Arundell died of his wounds after the Battle of Lansdowne, and his son, Henry Third Lord Arundell laid siege to his own castle, blew up much of it and caused the Parliamentary garrison to surrender in March 1644.

The eighth Baron, Henry Arundell, borrowed sufficient funds to finance the rebuilding of the castle. The house's construction began in 1769 and was completed in 1776, with additional buildings being added in the 1970s and 1980s. New Wardour Castle is of a Palladian style, designed by the architect James Paine with additional pieces from Giacomo Quarenghi, who was a principal architect of the Imperial Russian capital city Saint Petersburg. New Wardour Castle is approximately 1.5 miles (2 km) from Old Wardour Castle, which was left as a landscape feature of the original parkland.

Walking in Dorset and Wiltshire - Walking in England

Other places of interest on the Wonders of Wessex Walking Holiday: Salisbury - Shaftesbury - Tollard Royal - Old Sarum - Larmer Tree Gardens - Gold Hill - Wilton House - Ashmore - Cranborne Chase - Wessex - Woodford Valley - Stonehenge

Other Independent Walking Holidays


Old Wardour Castle

Old Wardour Castle


Approach through High Wood

Sting Ten Summoners Tales

Sting's album cover photographed inside Old Wardour

New Wardour Castle

New Wardour Castle