Castles

Huntingdon Castle Hills, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire

I am in castle mode at the moment, I am trying to post what castles I have left in my archives, it’s amazing how many are left, I did think I had caught up with them all…….but no, they just seem to grow on their own.  Anyway you do need to have some imagination for this castle, but I have added the notice board, because I needed help with this one when we visited the site back in 2015.  Unfortunately the board was not in very good condition at the time, so I copied the details for the post.  

We are looking at what was Huntingdon Castle, built in 1068 on the orders of William the Conqueror after the Norman invasion.  He needed castles to help him keep military an political control of England.  The inhabitants of Huntingdon may have had to come to the castle to pay taxes to William’s representative.  The Domesday Book states that 20 dwellings were demolished to make way for the castle.  The layout of the surviving earthworks confirms that the castle was a motte an daily type.  It would have been built quickly by soldiers and local forced labour, using wood instead of stone. 

The site is surrounded by a large defensive ditch on three sides and the river on the fourth.  On top of the mott, or mound where the pine trees now stand, would have been a tower and the bailey below you would have been protected by earthen ramparts with wooden palisades on top.  There would also have been a gatehouse to the castle with a drawbridge.  Motte and bailey castles acted as forts during war, but in peacetime served as home for the powerful.  The bailey would have contained the dwellings of those who worked for the castle, barns and pens for animal and storehouses for food.

The castle played an important role in the rebellion against King Henry II in 1174.  At that time it was owed by William I, King of Scotland, who was also the Earl of Huntingdon and who sided with the rebels.  Henry II himself came to Huntingdon, besieged the castle for a month, and then ordered it to be destroyed.

At some point a windmill was built on the top of the motte, where it stood until the end of the 19th century.  The cart track that led up to it, is clearly visible.  Part of the castle grounds then became the garden of Castle Hiull House an some landscaping took place.  Part of the castle site was destroyed when the first railway line was built in 1847.

All the details are from the notice board on site – 28th December 2015

Brougham Castle, Nr Penrith, Cumbria

Adding another castle to my collection, is this castle, one that we pass on every trip to Scotland, while towing our caravan, and of course its a little difficult to park up with a big van.  Last year we got lucky and had two holidays in Scotland 2016, and one was without the caravan, so course we stopped on the way back and explored Brougham Castle, two miles south-east of Penrith in Cumbria, in North West England.

We were lucky, the weather was perfect for castle exploring and we had the whole site to ourselves.  The castle is in a very picturesque setting beside the crossing of the River Eamont in Cumbria, and looking out over the Eden Valley, it was founded in the early 13th century.  The great keep largely survives, amid many later buildings, including the unusual double gatehouse.

This Medieval building was built in the early 13th century, by Robert De Vieuxpont.  The Vieuxponts were a powerful land-owning family in North West England, and also owned the castles of Appleby and Brough.  In 1264, Robert de Vieuxpont’s grandson, also named Robert, was declared a traitor and his property was confiscated by Henry III.  Brougham Castle and the other estates were eventually returned to the Vieuxpont family, and stayed in their possession until 1269 when the estates passed to the Clifford family through marriage.

With the outbreak of the Wars of Scottish Independence in 1296, Brougham became an important military base for Robert Clifford, 1st Baron de Clifford.  He began refortifying the castle, the wooden outer defences were replaced with stronger, more impressive stone walls, and the large stone gatehouse was added.  The importance of Brougham and Roger Clifford was such that in 1300 he hosted Edward I at the castle.  The second Roger Clifford was executed as a traitor in 1322, and the family estates passed into the possession of Edward II, although they were returned once Edward III became king. The region was often at risk from the Scots, and in 1388 the castle was captured and sacked.

After the sacking of the castle, the Cliffords spent more time at their other castles, especially Skipton Castle in Yorkshire.  By 1592 the castle was in a bad state of disrepair, it was briefly restored in the 17th century and James I was entertained there in 1617 .  In 1643 Lady Anne Clifford inherited this castle and also the castles of Appleby and Brough.  At the age of 60, she moved north and set about restoring the castles, plus many churches.  Brougham Castle was kept in good condition for a short time after Lady Anne’s death in 1676, she died at the castle, in the room where her father had been born.  Later The Earl of Thanet who next inherited the castle, sold the furnishings in 1714 and the empty shell was left to decay, as it cost too much to maintain.  The castle then became a romantic ruin and inspired many painters and poets.

 

The castle was left to the Ministry of Works in the 1930s and is today maintained by its successor, English Heritage.

The Norman Castle of Rochester, Kent

It’s time for another castle, Rochester Castle is located in the town of Rochester on the Medway estuary in Kent, SE England.  Rochester is well known for its connections with Charles Dickens, and also has a splendid Cathedral.   We visited both, Castle and Cathedral, but because I forgot our English Heritage cards, I only took photos of the exterior of the castle, the interior will have to wait until our next visit.

  

The best way to enter the castle is by the castle gate and climb the steps up into the Bailey, the large green area, in front of the remains of the castle, which is now a public park. 

Some history, Rochester Castle is one of the best preserved and finest examples of Norman architecture in England. Its great keep, square, massive and one of the tallest in the country, measures 113 feet high, 70 feet square and has walls 12 feet thick in places. It was on or close to the present castle site that the Romans built their first fort to guard the bridge carrying their legions over the river on their way from Dover to London and beyond. Centuries later, in 1087, Bishop Gundulf – one of William the Conqueror’s finest architects – began the construction of today’s castle, making use of what remained of the original Roman city walls. The great keep was built by William de Corbeil, Archbishop of Canterbury, to whom Henry I granted custody of the castle in 1127.

The castle has a chequered history, having been subjected to siege three times and in 1215 King John lay siege to the castle and took it after two long months. He finally undermined the south east tower and burned the props with the “fat of forty pigs” causing the tower to collapse. The city was well placed for raids on London and it also enabled them to devastate the lands of Kent, particularly those belonging to Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury, who had crowned Rufus and was therefore Odo’s and the rebels’ enemy.

By the 17th century, the castle had become neglected, the keep had been burned out, and the site was being used as a local quarry for building materials. In 1870 the castle grounds were leased to the City of Rochester, who turned them into a public park and eventually, in the 20th century, responsibility for this imposing old structure was taken over by English Heritage.

You can also see the Cathedral from the castle walls, and that its our next visit.

Newport Castle, Pembrokeshire, Wales

Last weekend, September 2017, we were in Wales, and we only had one day of exploring, but you can do a lot in a day.  On the way back from visiting the lighthouse at Strumble Head, in North Pembrokeshire, we were driving through Newport on the way back to New Quay, when looking right, I saw a castle.  Now….. we have driven through Newport several times, but I guess I have never looked up that particular road before, so it was a lovely surprise to see a new castle to me, in an area that we thought we knew really well.  There is no access to the Castle, as it is a private home, but you can get a good view from the road, or go further up the hillside as we did.  I would have loved to have got closer, but it is someones home, so I didn’t creep up the drive, hiding behind trees, but I so wished I could have done.

I also visited the church, which had some early photos of the church, but with castle and then the Tourist Board had a few more.  It’s always interesting to see some earlier references to theses ancient castles.

 

A little history…….It is suggested that Newport Castle was founded by the first Lord Marcher of Kemes, Martin de Turribus in 1191 and rebuilt by his son William at the end of the 12th Century.  None of this original castle survives, with the oldest remaining parts of the building thought to date to the late 13th century. The castle was captured by Llywelyn the Great in 1215 and Llywelyn the Last in 1257 but on both occasions was recaptured.  Ownership of the castle was transferred to Lord Audley in 1324.

The castle suffered extensive damage during the Welsh Revolt at the start of the 15th century. The castle was temporarily transferred to the crown when the then Lord Audley, James, was executed for high treason and all his lands seized in 1497, but these were returned to his son in 1534. William Owen of Henllys bought the castle nine years later.

A three-storey private residence was built in 1859 on the site of the castles gate-house, as part of renovations carried out by the owner at the time, Sir Thomas Lloyd, during which one of the flanking towers of the gatehouse was demolished. Three other towers at the corners of the building remain, along with a curtain wall.  A vaulted crypt adjoins the south-eastern tower.

The castle was listed with Grade I status on 16 January 1952. Today, the building remains in private ownership and is not open to the public.

Inveraray Castle, Scotland

This is the view of Inveraray Castle, that you see from the bridge on the road into Inveraray.   For some reason we have yet to visit, even on holiday last year 2016 it didn’t happen.  So for the moment its just the exterior, and in black and white, because it was a grey day and the castle is grey/green …… so it just got lost in colour.  

A little history…The castle was built on a rectangular plan with a sturdy crenellated tower at the centre and circular towers at each corner. The new house bristles with mock-military features including turrets, moats, and slit windows. To provide an uninterrupted view from the castle, the entire burgh of Inveraray was destroyed and rebuilt half a mile away in its current location.   Construction of the castle began in 1743 but took 43 years to complete.

A Wedding, A Poorly Nipper & Newark Castle, Nottinghamshire

We went to Fareham in Hampshire for very special wedding, today 08.08.17, my fathers.  My father who is ninety, married his girlfriend of thirty-four years, his new wife is seventy-two.  The day was beautiful, even though we had some rain, it didn’t matter, the day just shone.  I just wanted to make a note of this special day……so I do not miss their first anniversary, I’m terrible at dates 🙂   Also my oldest dog Nipper is in the vets, we had to rush him there three days ago as he was really very poorly and we found out he has very bad diabetes.  The vets have had to try and level his blood, which we think they have done, although he is still very poorly, he is starting to respond, so fingers cross he will pull though.  Anyway we will continue with the real reason for this post…… Newark Castle in Nottinghamshire.  We visited last year 2016, we had passed Newark several times over the years, but this time we managed to stop.

Newark Castle and Gardens are lovely, formal gardens bordered by the remaining walls of Newark Castle which was partly destroyed in 1646 at the end of the English Civil War. The Castle has stood proudly on the banks of the River Trent for nearly 900 years.

A little history….

The castle’s foundations date back to Saxon times but it was developed as a castle by the Bishop of Lincoln in 1123. Known as the Gateway to the North, the castle endured numerous sieges during the Baronial and English Civil war before it was partially destroyed in 1646.  From the riverside the bulk of Newark Castle looks extremely impressive, looming above the water like a forbidding barrier. It is only when you approach from the town that you realise how ‘one-sided’ the structure is. For on the town side, there are almost no remaining walls, though the towers are still impressive.  

 

 

I also took a mixture of black & white, as the castle grounds are used for weddings and we counted three while we were there.  Although the weather was very cloudy, it was still warm day.