A miniature castle built by a soldier who inspired a character in William Shakespeare’s plays has been saved from collapse.

Sir John Fastolf was immortalized in Shakespeare’s caricature as the cowardly knight Sir John Falstaff in Henry IV parts one and two and in The Merry Wives of Windsor.

The real Fastolf served three English kings – Henry IV, V and VI – and fought in the Hundred Years War.

He invested much of his wealth in English estates, and in 1437 built Drayton Lodge in Norfolk

The recently repaired Drayton Lodge in Norfolk. (Patricia Payne / Historic England / PA)

The Grade II * listed brick structure, which had fallen into disrepair, was added to the List of Heritage in Danger in 1998.

A grant from Historic England funded £ 11,000 for the repair of the planned monument and work has now been carried out with local developers Hidden Talents Homes to repair the building.

Some of the masonry was replaced, using existing bricks wherever possible, with the rest having been specially commissioned from a firm in Sudbury, Suffolk to match the original historic bricks.

Vulnerable sections of the structure have been reconstructed with hidden stainless steel pins and straps for added support.

Steve Miles of S&L Restoration is doing repair work on Drayton Lodge. (S&L Catering / PA)

Vegetation was removed from the walls and the tops of the walls were repaired to protect them from the elements.

James Albone, Inspector of Ancient Monuments at Historic England, said: “Drayton Lodge tells an important story about 15th century Norfolk and the life of Sir John Fastolf, a fascinating character who was immortalized in caricature by William Shakespeare.

“It’s wonderful to be able to remove this historic site from the List of Heritage in Danger after more than 20 years.

“We were delighted to work with Hidden Talents Homes on this project.

“Through their dedication and enthusiasm, those who live, visit and work on the Drayton Lodge estate will be able to learn more about its remarkable past.”

Drayton Lodge was built in 1437 by Sir John Fastolf, who was immortalized in caricature by Shakespeare. (Patricia Payne / Historic England / PA)

Conservation architect Ruth Brennan said: “I enjoyed working on this miniature castle, which has been in disrepair for many years.

“Despite the challenges of the blockages and the difficulties in getting the pink bricks handmade, the masons at S&L Restoration Ltd did a great job.

“The ruin will continue to be a fascinating glimpse into Drayton’s history for many years to come.”

Drayton Lodge is an early example of the use of brick construction in England and is contemporary with Sir John Fastolf’s larger creation of Caister Castle near Great Yarmouth.

The lodge has been described as a “pleasure” – pleasure ground – a hunting lodge or a strategic lookout post.

It was probably originally designed as a small fortified mansion, declared Historic England.

Built of soft pale red brick, the Drayton Lodge is now two stories tall.

Evidence suggests that it was originally built over three floors and also shows traces of a large fireplace in the west wall, a wardrobe – private bedroom – and a staircase.

After Fastolf’s death in 1459, Drayton Lodge was acquired by the Paston family, one of the most influential families in East Anglia.

In April 1465, the Duke of Suffolk, who had previously disputed Fastolf’s ownership of Drayton lands, began claiming the nearby Drayton and Hellesdon mansions, by legal means and later by force.

As a result, Drayton Lodge was left in ruins.

Later it may have served as a shelter for warreners and shepherds.

In the 18th century, it was thought to be a newly built decorative folly.

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