White Queen’s former home shortlisted for major architecture prize

Beautiful Astley Castle is shortlisted for the prestigious Royal Institute of British Architects Stirling Prize.

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Astley Castle

The 13th-century manor house that was once home to the first Yorkist queen Elizabeth Woodville was rescued from dereliction by the Landmark Trust last year and is now one of six British buildings shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize, an award given to the architects of a building that has made the greatest contribution to the evolution of architecture over the past year.

Astley Castle, situated near Nuneaton in the sprawling green landscapes of Warwickshire, has retained much of its medieval charm and aesthetic but it now includes a new house. It is the perfect place for Landmark Trust guests to discover a feel for life as it would have been 1,000 years ago, but with modern home comforts. Witherford Watson Mann Architects have carefully preserved the integrity of the Tudor and Jacobean ruins while still managing to completely transform the building.

“Astley Castle is a new departure, both for the Landmark Trust but also in the approach to ruined historic buildings,” said Dr Anna Keay, Director of the Landmark Trust. “We are tremendously proud of a scheme that represents an original way of reviving a ruined building. Neither a traditional restoration, nor a brutal modernist juxtaposition, WWM’s approach is utterly contemporary and yet in real harmony with the medieval castle. As a result a historic building that seemed completely unsaveable and close to collapse has been given a whole new life. We are absolutely thrilled that it has been recognised by the RIBA and hope it will encourage others to consider imaginative solutions for important historic buildings.”

Elizabeth Woodville is thought to have lived in Astley Castle in the mid-15th century as Sir John Grey’s wife. Grey died fighting for the Lancastrians in 1461 during the Wars of the Roses. As a young widow Elizabeth caught the eye of Yorkist claimant to the throne, Edward IV. She became his queen and bore him the ill-fated young princes who later died in the Tower of London.

The winner will be picked by a panel of judges and announced on 26 September.

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