Standing in natural surroundings
Situated on a ridge overlooking the Erewash Valley in Derbyshire, Codnor Castle has a very rich history and dates back to the late 12th or early 13th century and was the home and power base to one of medieval England’s most powerful families for 300 years; the De Grey family, otherwise known as the Barons Grey of Codnor. It is the only remaining one of two medieval castles still standing in Derbyshire, the other being Peveril Castle.
Many have speculated that the castle replaced an earlier Motte and Bailey Norman Castle, but there is no evidence, either physical or written to support this. It did possess a moat and curtain walls and all records describe it as Codnor Castle back to the 12th century.
Henry De Grey (the first De Grey of Codnor) and his wife Isolda Bardolf lived at the castle as early as 1201 when Henry was paying six knights fees for the privilege.
Henry was the progenitor of all the great houses of De Grey that spread throughout the realm, including Barons, Earls, Marquis and even a Queen (for nine days only) Lady Jane Grey.
He was a veteran Crusader having served with King Richard ‘the lion heart’ and became very close to King John through his family connections and his service to him.
By 1496 the last Baron De Grey of Codnor (also Henry) had died and the castle and manor passed into the hands of the Zouche family.
John Zouche was Henry De Grey’s cousin and the first Zouche to inherit, but did not actually possess the castle. Because of legal claims from two other cousins of Henry the castle and manor fell into abeyance and in 1501 the King (Henry the Vll) purchased the castle and manor for his beloved son ‘Prince Henry of York’ (the future Henry the Vlll).
In 1509 Henry Vll sold the castle back to the Zouche family, but it was not a smooth transfer and many legal suits and even some violence ensued before the matter was resolved and George Zouche (grandson of John) took possession sometime in the 1540’s.
The Zouches maintained the castle as a residence until they sold it in 1634 because of serious financial problems to Archbishop Sir Richard Neile of York. Having no use for it as a home he split the estate into tenanted farms and sold the castle stone for a profit.
The castle played no role whatsoever during the Commonwealth period and the Neile family sold the castle in 1692 to Sir Streynsham Master.
The Master family held on to the castle and manor until 1862 when they sold it to the Butterley Company.