Ulfstead Castle is an ancient fortress and the seat of the Earls of Sodor.
History in the Railway Series
The name derives from Ulf who came to Sodor in 1067. As Thorkell's trusted lieutenant, Ogmund gave him charge of this strong point which guards the approach to Peel Godred. He had built a castle here by 1070. Ulf boasted that he would hold it against all comers till the lake ran dry. He was a jovial man with a perpetual thirst. His thirst was really for ale; but his men, in jest, called the lake Chybbyr Ulf - Ulf's Well - and the name stuck.
Ulf's castle defied all efforts of the Scots to take it, till their expulsion in 1078. During the Resistance Period (1263-1404), when Sudrians under their Regents repelled all efforts of successive Lords of Man to take over their Island, Ulfstead Castle was many times besieged but never taken. When however in 1404 King Henry IV assisted Sudrians in expelling the Percys, Sir Arnold de Normanby the last Regent, ceded the castle to the King. Henry restored it to Sir Arnold and at the same time created him Earl of Sodor and Governor of the Island.
The castle was held for the King throughout the Great Rebellion and the Protectorate. As in the case of Peel Godred the outworks were so well sited that Roundheads could never get their artillery properly within range. At the Restoration the Earl abandoned the castle and built himself a Mansion in the grounds. The Earldom was extinguished by Attainder in 1715; but on the conclusion of his first term of office as Governor in 1873, Her Majesty Queen Victoria responded to popular petition, and restored to John Arnold Norramby the Earldom of Sodor and the estates of Ulfstead Castle of which his ancestor had been deprived, and which had in consequence reverted to the Crown.
By 1965 however, life in the Mansion had become impossible and it was sold. The castle itself was offered to the Sodor Island Trust who gladly accepted it. It was complete and undamaged except for natural decay. Repairs and renewals continue. It is of the greatest interest to archaeologists and military historians. The castle muniments which included such treasures as the Sigrid Saga and the Book of Sir Harald are on loan to the Island Record Office at Suddery. The Earl now lives in a comfortable house on the outskirts of the town. The Mansion has been turned into a luxury hotel, known as The Castle, with correspondingly high prices.
History in the Television Series
In the television series, the castle was owned by King Godred in the olden days. Now, the castle is part of the estate owned by Sir Robert Norramby. It has rails running through it, most of them dual-gauge, and its own station. There is a mine beneath the castle and it also has its own crane. Millie works and lives here, while she does a variety of jobs including helping the groundskeeper and taking tourists around the estate in open-topped carriages. Stephen also works here as a tour guide as well as Glynn.
The castle has its own park area which is home to several deer including one that Luke once befriended. The park area is tended to by a groundskeeper who has his own lodge on the castle's grounds. It has dual-gauged railway lines via the Estate Railway.
In the eighteenth season, a Dinosaur Park was built on the castle grounds. Sir Robert Norramby commonly hosts special events at the Castle, such as Christmas fairs and lunches, and fireworks displays.
- The drawbridge gained a barrier and signal in front of it in The Phantom Express.
- The Castle has its own turntable, engine shed and crane.
- Concept art of the castle for King of the Railway shows that Ulfstead Castle would have been much larger than the final design, and the railway line would run through the main building. Tidmouth Bay would also be used as the railway station for the castle. Colin was also going to be based there.