A Brief History of Someries Castle, Luton England
Someries Castle in Luton is a medieval manor house dating as far back as the 15th Century (the 1400s). The ruins of the castle now stand in what is a farmer’s field near Luton Airport, although back in the 15th century it stood far apart from what is today a bustling metropolis.
Sir John Wenlock, a soldier in the War of the Roses and a Speaker in the House of Commons, purchased the land in 1433 and started construction on the castle in 1448. Though not truly a castle, Someries was a courtyard house built and named after William de Someries (Somery) whose fortified manor house stood close to the building you see today. Sir John Wenlock died at the Battle of Tewkesbury in a fiery clash between the Houses of York and Lancaster, and the house was never completed except for the gatehouse, and the chapel completed in 1460 by Archbishop Thomas Rotherham.
Unlike earlier castles of its time, Someries castle was one of the first structures in England to be built using locally manufactured clay (red) brick and it is widely believed to have been constructed by Flemish and German craftsmen. The only structures to remain standing are the breakwaters used to create a defensive mound around the manor, the gatekeeper’s lodge, the gateway, and the chapel, Part of the deterioration of the site came in 1740 when the castle was dismantled to recycle the bricks for the Someries farm and in 1907, Joseph Conrad, author of Heart of Darkness and The Secret Agent, stayed for a brief period before leaving again in 1909.
A spooktastic fact about the Someries, it is rumored Sir John Wenlock still inhabits the site, creating strange tapping sounds on the ruined brickwork to let people know he won’t rest until he completes his work. While not every visitor has met Sir John, some claim to have seen his spectral apparition milling about the chapel and hear footsteps in the grass even during daylight hours.
There is no easy way to find the castle since there are no signposts to direct visitors to it until you’re close to its doorstep. However, the most suggested route is from the B652 and then continue to Peter’s Green, a small village close to Someries, and onto Copt Hall Road. From there, head west and follow the road as it goes into a keen left turn. Miss the turning and head straight down a rugged country lane farther on. There you will find the carpark to the Someries farm and the castle is just beyond to the left of the farm ahead. For those of you with satnavs, the correct address is Someries Cottages, Someries, Luton, LU2 9PL.
The castle is open to visitors Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM and receives a multitude of visitors from around the world. It runs tours to groups, including schools. The Old Moat House, previously belonging to William de Somerie, has since been renovated into a carvery.