No paintings, drawings, or any other pictures of Castle Donington, England, have ever been found. One of the members of the Castle Donington Historical Society has gone over all written records of the castle that are available, and the drawing shown here is his conception of what the castle might have looked like in about the year 1300.
There is no way of ever knowing exactly what it looked like. If someday a painting or other picture of the castle does show up, then this drawing could be corrected, but as of now it is the only picture in existence of what the original castle may have looked like. Notice the church spire in the background (right side). This is the same church that remains in Castle Donington to this day.
This is a picture, from the booklet called "More Memories of Castle Donington", that shows what was left of one wall of the castle in 1908. Although this wall was demolished in 1908 there is a small part of a wall still there today, but trees and shrubbery have grown over it and it is no longer visible. The top of the hill where the castle stood is now a residential area and there are no visible portions of the building there.
Castle Donington (pronounced Dunington) is a small town in a projecting corner of Leicestershire, which lies between the counties of Derby and Nottingham. It is nine miles southeast of the town Derby and about the same northwest of Loughborough. It is situated on a hill above the Trent River, and has a fine church with a conspicuous spire. The population is chiefly agricultural and in 1886 had a population of 2,662 persons.
The castle from which Castle Donington takes its name is now merely a mound on the northern edge of the village. It was built to command the crossing points of the River Trent in the eleventh or twelfth century, demolished in 1216 and rebuilt later that century. The castle was erected in the typical motte and bailey style of the times. It passed to the Hasting family in 1461 but fell into decay, as they lived mostly at Ashby-de-la- Zouch, and was finally demolished in 1595. Francis Rawdon Hastings, second Earl of Moira, built Donington Hall west of the village in 1790.
Brian Robey taken in 2008.
The church at Castle Donington bears the unusual dedication to the St Edward, King and Martyr, and its fine spire is a landmark for miles around. The Domesday Book mentions a priest at Castle Donington, but makes no reference to a church. This however is by no means unusual and cannot necessarily be taken to indicate that no church was in existence at that time, i.e. 1086. The fact that the present church, which dates from c. 1200, is dedicated to a Saxon saint, suggests it had a predecessor of that period, as it is doubtful if a new foundation would be so dedicated comparatively soon after the Norman Conquest. There is documentary evidence that a church was in existence here in 1133.
The oldest part of the church dates back to 1200. Work on widening the south aisle started with the Chapel in about 1275. In 1300 work started to add the north aisle, this work took about twelve years. A little later the tower was reconstructed and the spire added.
The tower is in three stages above a moulded plinth. It has rectangular buttresses and a battlemented parapet. As already mentioned the tower part is c. 1200, but the plinth and buttresses are later work. A single lancet to the west is the only light in the first stage. The second has a single trefoil-headed light to the north and south. The upper stage has a two light decorated window with quatrefoil in the head to each face. The parapet is reached by an internal newel staircase in the southwest corner.
The well proportioned octagonal spire rising from within the parapet, has two groups of four spire-lights in the sides facing the cardinal points of the compass. Tower and spear together now rise to a height of 160 feet.
In the fifteenth century the roof on the nave was raised by the addition of the clerestory thereby adding light, the line of the original high roof can be seen on the west face of the tower outside the church. The late sixteenth/early seventeenth century saw the change of the roof to that which can still be seen.
Pictures were taken by Brian Robey.
In the principal street there is an old black and white timbered frame house, an old English Tudor, with an inscription over the door, T.R."1656" and on a projecting gable hangs a key with the date 1595. The key is said to have long hung there. The house was the property and residence of Thomas Roby(later the "e" was added by the family), who married Mary Abbott. The initials are probably those of his father, who married Ellen Cheribough. The house had descended to the ownership of Rev. William Roby Burgin in 1888.
Land and church records positively place the Roby's as residents of Castle Donington from 1402, and through the following years, but positive evidence of the exact place of abode before 1400 is lacking. There is a record of a Robert Roby born in Castle Donington in 1261, and his son, Robert, was born in Castle Donington in 1290 and was buried in a vault under the church in Castle Donington in 1317. There are no currently existing records to connect the families from the late 1200's to the birth of John Roby in Castle Donington in 1455.