I first heard of Codnor Castle some 40 years ago…and never went there. At the time, the only info I had said it was ‘just foundations’ so I passed on by. It was only in the last two years I realised there was in fact large, standing masonry including towers of this once-imposing castle. However, hidden away behind the houses in the village, it had fallen into serious decay and was often vandalised, with wire fences around the most dangerous parts of the ruins.
Now, finances have been found not only to preserve and consolidate the ruins, but to build a small visitors centre. It seems Codnor will survive despite its present poor condition:
The castle has a pretty interesting history back from the 12th century, but the Greys during the Wars of the Roses are of particular interest. Henry Grey, 4th Baron Grey, was an important magnate in the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire regions. He wasn’t averse to some local fighting and argy-bargy, as seen in the feud between the Greys and the Vernons, which ended in a murder, and he incited a major riot in Nottingham. Initially he was a supporter of the House of Lancaster, fighting for Henry VI at the second Battle of St Albans, but he then changed his allegiance to the House of York and fought loyally for the Yorkists at Towton, Barnet, Tewkesbury and Bosworth. Later, he served Henry Tudor and fought at Stoke Field.
He was married three times, first to Katherine Strangways, who was daughter of Sir Thomas Strangeways and Katherine Neville, Duchess of Norfolk, the old lady famously made to marry 19 year old John Woodville when she was around sixty-five, a marriage described as ‘diabolical’. Katherine Neville was the daughter of Ralph Neville, Earl of Westmorland and Joan Beaufort, so Henry Grey was related by marriage to Edward IV and Richard III, and also Warwick the Kingmaker, who all descend from Ralph and Joan.
When Katherine Strangways died, Grey then married Margaret Stanley, daughter of Thomas Stanley, 1st Baron Stanley– Margaret was sister to the infamous fence-sitter,side-swapping Sir Thomas Stanley. Thirdly, Grey married Katherine Stourton, daughter of William, Baron Stourton. Henry had no children with any of his wives.
(After his death his widow Katherine married William de la Pole, Richard III’s nephew via his sister Elizabeth and potential claimant to the throne–unfortunately Henry Tudor’s suspicious eye fell upon him, and William ended up spending the the next 37 years in the Tower of London…)