Ashby de la Zouch Castle was the purpose-built seat of one of the most powerful men in late 15th-century English politics, William, Lord Hastings. His adaptations to the relatively modest existing manor house at Ashby began in 1472?3, but by the time of his sudden fall from grace and execution in 1483 only about half of his grand design had been realised. The castle remained in use as the main family seat of his descendants, playing a prominent part in the Civil War, when it was held for the king. It began to attract visitors in the 19th century after Sir Walter Scott set a scene in his novel?Ivanhoethere.
The manor of Aschebie is first documented in the Domesday survey of 1086 and for the next century formed part of the estates of the Earls of Leicester. They granted it to a family of Breton descent with the name ?le Zouch? (meaning ?a stock? or ?stem?) in return for military service. Their apparently modest manor house probably stood on the site of the present castle; fragments of it may be preserved in the hall range.