THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE CASTLE
Eastnor was built by the 2nd Baron (Lord) Somers, later 1st Earl, between 1810 and 1824. The combination of inherited wealth, his judicious marriage to the daughter of the eminent and rich Worcestershire historian, Rev. Treadway Russell Nash, and his great ambition prompted the 1st Earl to commission a castle to impress his contemporaries and raise his family into the higher ranks of the ruling class. Then, as now, the size and splendour of a country house evidenced the standing and fortune of any family. His architect, the young Robert Smirke, who was later well known for his design for the British Museum, proposed a Norman Revival style. From a distance, Eastnor tried to create the impression of an Edward 1st-style medieval fortress guarding the Welsh Borders. It was a symbolic and defiant assertion of power by an aristocrat in a period of fear and uncertainty following the French Revolution and during the Napoleonic Wars. The symmetry of the design emphasized authority, distinguishing Eastnor from the more rambling, picturesque, castellated mansions of a slightly earlier period at Downton Castle (Shropshire) and Smirke’s 1805 creation for the Earl of Lonsdale at Lowther Castle (Cumbria). By most standards, the castle is massive, and the construction team and materials used were on a similar scale. 250 men working day and night were employed over the first six years of building, and in the first 18 months 4,000 tons of building stone, 16,000 tons of mortar and 600 tons of wood were used.