background image

Follow the brown signs

uk twitter facebook
Castle

Castle

For a man’s house is his castle – et domus sua cuique est tutissimum refugium (Edward Coke 1552-1634)

A little bit of history

William the Conqueror first began enthusiastically building castles all over the British Isles at the beginning of 11th century and their appeal stayed strong with the ruling classes ensuring their widespread construction for another five centuries. Castles were originally designed as fortified residences to protect dwellers from attack and as a base from which one could launch an assault if one so desired, but even when they weren’t being used for military purposes, castles still represented great wealth and power and had the capacity to strike the fear of God into nearby peasants, which proved the perfect device for bullying them into subservience. Most castles were built on land granted by the king to his loyal subjects, knights and barons and in return they kept locals from rebelling, forced them to work and collected rent and taxes. At their peak, and before their appeal faded as the residence of the noble classes, there were literally thousands of castles across the whole of Britain. The decline of the castle began in the early 1600s when rich land owners began to commission stately homes as their abodes; a castle might be grand and imposing but it wasn’t the most comfortable or practical of dwellings. The fate of English castles was sealed during the civil war wrought by Oliver Cromwell in the mid 1600s when most castles were ransacked, destroyed and used against the order they represented, the ruling classes and nobility of Britain. Advances in artillery and weaponry also contributed to their demise as they simply couldn’t stand up to the power of cannon fire. Many were abandoned, torn down, built on or slowly reduced to rubble when stonework was stolen from the once magnificent castles and used as construction materials for new houses and buildings. It was only relatively recently (in the last 150 years) that castles bega