I’ve not visited Broughton Castle for years. We went to the estate when N was a toddler with the NCT group for a village fete event. And to the house itself, my last visit was probably in primary school for a school trip about the English Civil War. As it only opens a couple of days a week in the afternoons, it’s never usually a good time for me, but with a week off and N on the farm, I decided it was perfect timing to visit.
Included in lists of Oxfordshire castles, Broughton Castle is a moated fortified manor house, that’s still a family home. It’s still lived in by the current Lord and Lady Saye and Sele’s older son and family, with the Fienne’s family having owned the place since the mid 1400s. The main core of the house was built in the early 1300s, with battlement walls surrounding the house built in the 1400s. This turned it into a castle by name only. Further improvements took place from the 1500s and rebuilding following English Civil War damage and years when the family left and it fell into decay.
On a beautiful summer’s day, it’s a lovely place for a walk amongst the sheep grazing the estate. There are different options for visitors. Walk the grounds (dogs on leads) from locally – there’s only parking for those visiting the castle and gardens. Or pay for the gardens, or house and gardens.
If you want to visit the house you can do one of the hour long tours or just go round freeflow from 2pm. The tours start from 1.30 and you have to book in advance as they do fill up.
It’s only a short walk from the small car park. The only toilets are in the carpark, so go there first if needed! You first see the gorgeous gatehouse and moat overlooking the landscape behind.
Broughton Castle gardens
I had nearly 30 minutes after opening before my tour slot, so walked alongside the side of the house around the back to the ladies garden and south lawn.
It’s only small, but the Ladies Garden is a pretty walled garden with lots of colour in the summer. It’s peaceful and has plenty of places to sit and enjoy the flowers and butterflies. Likewise the south lawn has places to sit, chance to watch over the moat for wildlife. There’s plenty of stone archways in and out to explore as well.
Broughton Castle tour
There were 24 people on our tour. It was one of the bigger tours I’ve been on round stately homes but it was fine as there weren’t too many questions. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and let us have the time we needed to see all the interesting things.
You get to see around most of the house apart from obviously the private apartments. However, the bit you tour around is all still used by the family for guests and larger dinners etc. It’s funny to see things like electric blanket cables amongst the old furniture and decor. And family photos are in another room.
I remembered the top council room we went to near the roof from a school trip. This is where they discussed Parliamentarian matters and plans for the upcoming civil war. I was surprised there was no mention of tunnels. There’s lots of rumours locally about where tunnels from under some of the pubs in town go to from the civil war period.
If you’re into English war history, or just that of stately homes, then a Broughton Castle tour is worth doing. The castle has also been used for a lot of tv and film sets, so you can work out which rooms you recognise from films you’ve seen.
On a self tour through the house, there’s plenty of information within the rooms to read and discover. A few rooms also have volunteers who are there to answer questions.
What else is there to do at Broughton Castle
Going to the tea room or shop as well as the house, you could easily spend a few hours at Broughton Castle. There’s the parkland to walk around too if you want to see more of the estate and surrounding areas.
There were a couple of young children walking around the house with parents. This house isn’t a National Trust or English Heritage day out where children are specifically catered for. There’s plenty of space outside for children to enjoy and run around, but there’s no ‘dressing up’ rooms or specific activities.
If you want to visit the house itself, there’s lots of steps and levels to go up and down. It’s wise to read the details on accessibility on the website to check ahead of visiting where’ you’ll be able to see’s accessible.
It was a lovely couple of hours spent wandering around and finding out more about local history. And a beautiful setting on such a lovely summer day.
If you want to visit, it’s a couple of miles outside of Banbury in the village of Broughton. Broughton Castle opening times Wednesdays, Thursdays, Sundays and bank holiday Mondays, 1-5pm.
Find other places to visit in Oxfordshire, predominantly family friendly.
Have you ever been to Broughton Castle, or any other recommended places to visit linked to the English Civil War?