Not open to the public. Mansion dating from the middle of the 16th century with addition and alterations of the beginning of the 17th century made by Sir Robert Cotton, altered and partly rebuilt in the 19th century on the site of Conington (or Connington) Castle.
Camden writes of this place, the property of his friend and patron, Sir Robert Cotton, the antiquary, “where within a square ditch are traces of an ancient castle” which, like Saltrey, had been the gift of King Canute to Torquil the Dane,
Afterwards the castle and vill came to Waltheof, son of Siward, Earl of Northumberland, Earl of Huntingdon, who married Judith, the Conqueror’s own sister’s daughter, by whose eldest daughter it came into the royal family of Scotland; for she married, secondly, David, Earl of Huntingdon, who afterwards ascended the throne of Scotland. He was the younger son of King Malcolm Ceanmore, and Margaret, his wife, was of the Saxon blood royal, being the granddaughter of Edmund lronsides. David’s son was Henry, and Henry had a son, David, Earl of Huntingdon, by whose youngest daughter Isabel Connington and other estates descended to Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland, who was buried at Saltrey, near by, in a Cistercian abbey there, which at the Reformation was granted by Henry VIII. to Sir Richard Cromwell, but of which building no traces now remain. From Bernard, youngest son of the Bruce, who inherited Connington, was descended Sir Robert Cotton. Dr. Stukeley, travelling along the old Roman Hermen Street, near here, in 1722, says : “I thought it piety to turn half a mile out of the road to visit Conington, the seat of the noble Sir Robert Cotton, where he and the great Camden have often sat in councel upon the antiquitys of Brittan. I was concerned to see a stately old house of hewn stone large and handsonl by in dismal ruin, the deserted lares and the genius of the place fled …. In the ruins of the Saltrys lye buried Robert Brus, lord of Anandale in Scotland, and of Cleveland in England, with Isabel his wife, from whom the Scottish branch of our royal family is descended, and who was great-grandfather of King Robert the Bruce.”
The place is two miles S.W. from the railway at Holme. The mansion built by Sir Robert Cotton was pulled down by his grandson Sir John, with the exception of a stone colonnade in front. A gloomy interest attaches to Connington Castle, since Sir Robert, soon after 1625, when Fotheringhay Castle was destroyed, became the purchaser of the great Hall of that fortress, the building in which the unfortunate Queen Mary Stuart had, some forty years before, been tried, and in which she was beheaded. He removed the whole fabric to Connington, and it is stated by Mr. Bonney in his “History of Fotheringhay”, that in all probability the arches and columns in the lower part of Connington Castle are those which we know divided the great Hall into a nave and two aisles; a not uncommon form of erection, which we see in the halls at Winchester, Oakham, and Leicester. These columns, then, must have witnessed the execution of the poor Queen. (Castles Of England, Sir James D. Mackenzie, 1896)
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