History of Ford Castle

Ford Castle has an exciting and interesting history!   All our visitors are given a full tour taking in King James the IV’s bedroom, the dungeons and much more!

Medieval roots…

Written records start mentioning Ford after the Norman Conquest of 1066 when the manor of Ford belonged to the Heron family.  A substantial stone castle had been built by 1287 in the context of the border warfare between the English and the Scots and in 1338 William Heron was granted permission to crenellate (create battlements) the castle.   In 1367 it was officially recognised as part of the border defences against the marauding Scots. Of the original four-tower design, two of the original towers are still visible today, most noticeably the foreboding  and imposing flag tower, on your left as you enter through the portcullis.

Royal connections…

In 1385 the Scots attacked and devastated the castle for the first time and thereafter fighting feuds was the norm for many decades.  Most famously, in the Tudor period, King James IV of Scotland moved south over the border in 1513 with a large invading army and stayed at the Castle to challenge King Henry the VIII’s army at the battle of Flodden.

Famous battles…

Reaching Ford Castle he delayed here for a few days before his fateful battle at Flodden Field – visible from the Flag Tower –  on the 15th September 1513, where he and approximately 11,000 of his countrymen died.  You can see the room he is reputed to have stayed in plus a replica of his sword.

Renaissance rebuild and Victorian values…

The castle underwent major reconstruction in the 1790’s commissioned by the Delaval family. Lady Louisa Beresford, Marchionness of Waterford, a Pre-Raphaelite Watercolourist and philanthropist – trained by no less than both Dante Gabriel Rosseti and John Ruskin –  made further alterations in the late 1880’s showing concern for her tenants by redesigning the whole village of Ford including the design and and build of a school.  There is still a frieze on the Armoury wall that is reputed to have been painted by her…

Recent and Modern day, living history…

The current owners of Ford Castle are the Lord Joicey family who purchased the estate in 1907 and used the castle as their home until the start of the 2nd World War.  After a period as a recuperation hospital and then a training centre for the Boys’ Club Association it opened on the 18th September 1956 as a residential centre for young people.

Since 1956 Ford Castle has assisted and inspired thousands of young people to reach their potential through a combination of residential educational courses and outdoor  activities.