Sources for Ashby de la Zouch Castle

The following lists provide a summary of the main sources for our knowledge and understanding of Ashby de la Zouch Castle.

Buck, 'South View of Ashby de la Zouch Castle...', 1730

‘The South View of Ashby-de-la-Zouch Castle in the County of Leicester’, engraving by Samuel and Nathaniel Buck, 1730

Primary Sources (Unpublished)

Over the period of its wealth and political prominence from the 15th to the 19th century, the Hastings family gathered together a huge body of papers. Today, this has become dispersed between several collections.


Huntington Library, Pasadena, California

The most important group of documents relating to Ashby de la Zouch is preserved in the papers of the Earls of Huntingdon now deposited in the Huntington Library, California, which bought up the parts of the collection owned by Reginald Hastings (d.1915). The sale lot comprised an unsorted body of about 100,000 documents. The archive now comprises a set of boxes arranged by subject: Hastings Inventories (HAI); Hastings Personal Papers (HPP – not to be confused with Hastings Parliamentary Papers); Hastings Manorial (HAM); Hastings Accounts and Finance (HAF) and so on. Two important attempts have been made to catalogue this huge body of material, but both are self-confessedly superficial:

  • Historic Manuscripts Commission, Report on the Manuscripts of the Late Reginald Rawdon Hastings, Esq, of the Manor House, Ashby de la Zouche, 4 vols (London, 1928–47) 
  • Watson, K (ed), ‘Henry H Huntingdon Library Hastings Manuscripts’, List and Index Society, Special Series 22 (Kew, 1987).

The latter publication informed the online version of the Huntingdon Library's catalogue.


British Library, London

Before the sale the British Library obtained a small number of objects from the Huntingdon papers, most notably:

  • the 1480s building accounts of Kirby Muxloe Castle (Egerton MS 3136)
  • The Hastings Hours, a fine illuminated manuscript produced about 1480 in Flanders for William, Lord Hastings (c 1430–1483). The dating of the manuscript accords with a high point in his career and his building activities at Ashby de la Zouch and Kirby Muxloe castles (Add MS 54782).


Bodleian Library, Oxford 

A further important collection was compiled in the 18th century by the Reverend Carte, who proposed to write a history of the Hastings family, and both acquired and copied many documents then in the hands of the Earl of Huntingdon. His voluminous collection of papers is now held in the Bodleian Library and includes three large and un-indexed volumes that contain material relevant to the family and its properties, including Ashby de la Zouch. A description of the Bodleian Library’s Carte Papers (1686–1754) is available online.


Primary Sources (Published)

Calendar of Patent Rolls, Edward IV 1461–67 (London, 1897), 103–4 [grant of land to William, Lord Hastings]

Calendar of Charter Rolls, 1427–1516, vol VI (London, 1927), 242 [1474 licence to crenellate]

Davenport, A (ed), The Poems of John Marston (Liverpool, 1961), 192–207 [includes text of a welcome for the dowager Countess of Derby by the playwright John Marston in August 1607]

Farnham, GF, ‘Ashby-de-la-Zouch: manorial notes’, Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological Society, 15 (1927–8), 85–96 [transcriptions of documents relating to the descent of the manor]

Historic Manuscripts Commission (HMC), Report of the Manuscripts of the Late Reginald Rawdon Hastings, Esq, of the Manor House, Ashby de la Zouche, 4 vols (London, 1928–47) 

Jones, M (ed and trans), Philippe de Commynes: Mémoires (Harmondsworth, 1972) 

Long, CE (ed), Diary of the Marches of the Royal Army during the Great Civil War, Kept by Richard Symonds, Camden Society, old series 74 (London, 1859) 

Sylvester, RS (ed), St Thomas More, The History of King Richard III, vol 2 of the Yale Edition of the Complete Works of St Thomas More (Newhaven and London, 1963) [includes an account of the execution of William, Lord Hastings, written soon after the event]

Telford, J (ed), The Letters of the Rev John Wesley, 8 vols (London, 1931) [Wesley corresponded with and met Selina, Countess of Huntingdon]

Turner, DH (ed), The Hastings Hours: A 15th-century Flemish Book of Hours made for William, Lord Hastings (London, 1983) [facsimile of 70 pages of the manuscript]

Visual Sources

  • Buck, S and N, 1730, ‘North View of Ashby de la Zouch Castle, in the County of Leicester’, published in Views of Ruins of Castles and Abbeys in England, Part 2 (London, 1726–39)
  • Buck, S and Buck, N, 1730, ‘South View of Ashby de la Zouch Castle, in the County of Leicester’, published in Views of Ruins of Castles and Abbeys in England, Part 2 (London, 1726–39)
  • Gardiner, W, 1735, Estate map, Leicester and Rutland Record Office, DG 30/Ma/249/1 (repr in Goodall 2007)
  • Hastings, Selina, Countess of Huntingdon, (?)1720s–90s, ‘A North View of the Old Palace in Ashby de la Zouch’, print, British Museum, London 
  • Grose, F, 1759, ‘Ashby de la Zouch, Leicestershire’, repr in The Antiquities of England and Wales, vol III, (London) (repr in Jones 1980)
  • Blore, Edward (1787–1879), Drawings of the ruins at Ashby de la Zouch, British Library, London, Add MS 42037, fols 96–103
  • Radclyffe, William (1798–1855), ‘View of Ashby de la Zouche, ruins forming three sides of a square enclosing parkland …’, print, British Museum, London 
  • British School, 1828–30, ‘View of Ashby-de-la-Zouch Castle, Leicestershire, with Passers-by’, oil on canvas, Ashby de la Zouch Museum, Ashby de la Zouch [reproduced in Goodall 2007] 
  • Flowers, J, c 1830, ‘Ashby de la Zouch Castle’, printed by CJ Hullmandel
  • Flowers, J, c 1830, ‘Ashby de la Zouch Castle’, printed by Day & Co
  • Vavasour, MAE, 1855, ‘Brick Tower at the Castle, Ashby de la Zouch’, two sketches, Ashby de la Zouch Museum, Ashby de la Zouch [one is reproduced in Goodall 2007]


Historic England Archive

Items in the Historic England Archive at Swindon relating to Ashby de la Zouch Castle include:

  • a file of 20th- and 21st-century survey drawings, some as early as the 1930s (PF/AZC)
  • a file containing more than 50 early photographs of the castle and copies of old engravings (BF111234)
  • an album of historic photographs and postcards collected by the Ministry of Public Buildings and Works sometime after 1962 (AL0503).

More details of these and many other items can be found in the online catalogue. Some material is not yet listed in the online catalogue, including a large collection of aerial photography; for a full search, please contact the search team.

Copies of images and documents can be ordered through the website or by contacting the archive. For details of current charges for these services see the archives price list.

Secondary Literature

Items marked * represent key works in which our understanding was significantly altered, summaries showing the state of knowledge and theories at particular dates, or works detailing recent discoveries. 


Published Works

‘AAG’, The Visitors’ Illustrated Guide to Ashby-de-la-Zouch and Neighbourhood (Ashby de la Zouch, 1888) 

*Anon, An Historical & Descriptive Account of the Castle at Ashby-de-la-Zouch (Ashby de la Zouch, 1824) 

Anon, A Descriptive and Historical Guide to Ashby-de-la-Zouch and the neighbourhood with seven engravings (Ashby de la Zouch, 1831) 

Anon, Hextall’s Ashby de la Zouch (1852; facsimile edn 1974)

Anon, The History and Description of Ashby-de-la-Zouch , etc (London, 1863)

Anon, Ashby-de-la-Zouch Illustrated Guide: The Official Publication of the Ashby-de-la-Zouch Urban District Council and of the Ashby-de-la-Zouch Traders’ Association (Cheltenham, 1919)

Bell, HN, Memoirs of the House of Hastings (London, 1820) 

Bell, HN, The Huntingdon Peerage, revised edn (London, 1821) 

Bennett, M, ‘Henry Hastings and the flying army of Ashby de la Zouch’, Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society, 56 (1980 for 1982), 62–70

Bowers, JE, The Parish Church of St Helen, Ashby-de-la-Zouch: Five Hundred Years (Ashby de la Zouch, 1975)

Burton, W, The Description of Leicestershire (London, 1622)

Clinker, C and Hadfield, C, ‘The Ashby de la Zouch Canal and its railways’, Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological Society, 34 (1958), 53–76

Crane, A et al, Napoleonic Prisoners of War in Ashby de la Zouch (Ashby de la Zouch, 1999)

Cross, C, The Puritan Earl: The Life of Henry Hastings, 3rd Earl of Huntingdon (London, 1966)

Cross, C, ‘The Third Earl of Huntingdon’s death-bed: a Calvinist example of the ars moriendi’, Northern History, 21 (1985), 80–107

Dugdale, W, The Baronage of England (London, 1675)

Emery, A, ‘Ashby de la Zouch Castle’, in Nottingham Area: Proceedings of the 135th Summer Meeting of the Royal Archaeological Institute, 1989, ed N Cooper (1991), 65–71

Fosbrooke, TH, Ashby de la Zouch Castle (Leicester, 1911) 

*Fosbrooke, TH, Ashby-de-la-Zouch Castle, Leicestershire: Historic and Descriptive (1913)

*Goodall, J, Ashby de la Zouch Castle and Kirby Muxloe Castle (English Heritage guidebook, London, 2007) [buy the guidebook]

Goodall, J, The English Castle (New Haven and London, 2011) 

Herbert, A, ‘Ashby Castle’, Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological Society, 17:2 (1934 for 1931–2), 197–204

Hill, CF, Ashby de la Zouch Castle: A Guide (Ashby de la Zouch, 1929) 

Hillier, K, The Book of Ashby-de-la-Zouch (Buckingham, 1984)

Hillier, K, ‘William, Lord Hastings and Ashby-de-la-Zouch’, The Ricardian, 8:100 (1988), 13–17

Hillier, K, Ashby de la Zouch and the Great Civil War (Ashby de la Zouch, 2010)

Jones, TL, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire [with plates] (Ministry of Works guidebook, London, 1953)

Jones, TL, Ashby de la Zouch Castle (English Heritage guidebook, London, 1980)

Linnell, CLS, The Story of St Helen’s Church, Ashby-de-la-Zouch (Gloucester, 1969)

Mammatt, E, Excursions in the Neighbourhood [of Ashby-de-la-Zouch] (1852)

Newsome, S, et al, Ashby de la Zouch Castle, Leicestershire: A Multidisciplinary Investigation of the Castle Garden, English Heritage Research Department Report 52/2008 (London, 2008)

*Nichols, J, The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicester, vols III pt 2 and IV pt 2 (London, 1804) 

Pattison, P, ‘A late medieval/Renaissance garden at Ashby de la Zouch’, Research News (newsletter of the English Heritage Research Department), 5 (2006–7), 40–44

Pedley, J, Antiquities of Ashby Castle (London and Birmingham, n.d.) 

Poynton, H, Romance of Ashby-de-la-Zouch Castle (Birmingham, 1902) 

Roberts, A, ‘The depredations of the Civil War in southwest Leicestershire’, Leicestershire Historian, 3:4 (1985–6), 3–13

Robertson, ML, ‘Court careers and county quarrels: George Lord Hastings and Leicestershire unrest, 1509–29’ in State, Sovereigns and Society in Early Modern England. Essays in Honour of AJ Slavin, ed C Carlton et al (Stroud, 1998), 153–69

Sawyer, EM, The Story of St Helen’s Church, Ashby-de-la-Zouch Illustrated (Gloucester, 1939)

Scott, W, The Story of Ashby-de-la-Zouch (Ashby de la Zouch, 1907)

Simms, RS, ‘Pewter vessel from Ashby-de-la-Zouch Castle’, Antiquaries Journal, 18:2 (1938), 178–80

Simpson, WD, ‘The castles of Dudley and Ashby-de-la-Zouch’, Archaeological Journal, 96:1 (1940 for 1939), 142–58

Steggle, M, ‘John Marston’s entertainment at Ashby and the 1606 Fleet Conduit eclogue’, Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England, 19 (2006), 249–55

*Thompson, AH et al, ‘Ashby de la Zouch’, Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological Society, 15 (1927–8), 60–96 

Throsby, J, The Supplementary Volume to the Leicestershire Views, vol II (London, 1790), 418–26

Wayte, T, An Historical and Descriptive Account of the Castle of Ashby de la Zouch (Ashby de la Zouch, 1824)

Welch, E, ‘Lady Huntingdon’s chapel at Ashby’, Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological Society, 66 (1992), 136–42

Williams, D, ‘From Towton to Bosworth: the Leicestershire community and the Wars of the Roses’, Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological Society, 59 (1984–5), 27–43

Unpublished Reports

Brown, A, ‘Brief for research in connection with the garden and landscape at Ashby de la Zouch Castle, Leicestershire’, English Heritage (2006)

Coppack, G, ‘Draft conservation statement for Ashby de la Zouch Castle, Ashby de la Zouch, Leicestershire’, English Heritage (n.d.)

Leary, J, ‘Ashby de la Zouch Castle and Gardens (Wolfson Foundation Gardens Challenge Fund Project Number 4990) Project Design’ (2006)

Moxon, CJM, ‘Ashby de la Zouch – a social and economic history of a market town, 1570–1720’, DPhil thesis, University of Oxford (1971)

Patrick, J, ‘An archaeological watching brief at Ashby-de-la-Zouch Castle, Leicestershire’ report 2008–046, University of Leicester Archaeological Services (2008) 

Way, T, ‘The designed gardens and landscapes at Ashby de la Zouch Castle: Phase 3 report’, English Heritage (2006)







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