Queen of the castle
Women who ruled the roost in Britain’s mightiest fortresses
8 women who ruled the roost in England’s mightiest fortresses
Castles are often regarded as the ultimate symbol of masculine power, originating as machines of war, though more often operating as status homes for the nobility. But if you look more closely at the histories of England’s feudal fortresses you will find small groups of aristocratic women who were able to exert great influence within these walls and in some cases break away from traditional womanly roles as dictated by family and society.
We’ve dug through the archive of English Heritage, the charity responsible for the care and conservation of 400 historic buildings and sites across the country, including more than 60 castles, to discover the thrilling tales of incredible women. Read on to discover ladies who were determined not to let gender norms stand in their way, from a countess who spent 40 years battling to inherit her family estates, to a prime minister’s niece who adventured around Europe and the Middle East.