Castles of England/Worcestershire

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There are four castles of note in Worcestershire.

Name
Type
Date
Condition
Ownership
/ Access
Notes (Key)
Caldwall Castle Fortified manor house 140115–16th century Fragment Private residence Single surviving tower, in Kidderminster.
Hartlebury Castle Fortified manor house 140115th century Rebuilt HMMuseum icon (red).png
Church of England
140115th century remains incorporated in later buildings, residence of Bishop of Worcester until 2007, houses Worcestershire County Museum.
Holt Castle Castle 130114–19th century Intact Wedding venue Medieval tower incorporated in later buildings.
Worcester Castle Castle 120113–14th century Fragment Church of England Edgar Tower, now entrance to College Green, probable surviving gatehouse of the castle.

Caldwall Castle[edit]

Geograph-2058729-by-Richard-Rogerson cropped.jpg

Caldwell Tower stands on a mound, and is a small, free-standing tower of probable 16th century origin. Square on plan, of good coursed rubble, it contains three stories beneath the parapet. This is carried on two courses of individual corbels. The crenellations seem to have been renewed.

The door at ground floor level is in the west wall and admits to a vaulted basement, which does not communicate with the upper stories. The first floor, also vaulted, is reached via a modern forestair. The flooring above has been altered. The windows are small, and there are signs of built-up gun-loops in the walling. The fabric throughout is in fair condition. This tower is thought to have been part of the courtyard-type Caldwell Castle. Rubble, possibly from demolished ancillary buildings has been noted at the site.

Ainslie's map of 1775 indicates a 'pigeon house' or 'doocot' at the position of the tower, indicating a later use of this castle remnant. Some indications of the tower being a focal point of the pleasure gardens, linked to a belvedere have been suggested. The 1832 map of Renfrewshire by John Thomson shows the tower clearly and marks it as 'Bacon H.' suggesting that it was then in use as a pigsty or such-like.

Hartlebury Castle[edit]

Hartlebury Castle - geograph.org.uk - 419175.jpg

Hartlebury Castle was built in the mid-13th century as a fortified manor house on land given to the Bishop of Worcester by King Burgred of Mercia. From the early 13th century until 2007, Hartlebury Castle was the residence of the bishop of Worcester.

Bishop Walter de Cantilupe, a supporter of Simon de Montfort, began to fortify the Castle, which was embattled and finished by his successor, Godfrey Giffard, 1268. The gate-house was added in the reign of Henry VI by Bishop Carpenter.

In 1646 during the Civil War Hartlebury Castle was strongly fortified and held for King Charles I by Captain Sandys and Lord Windsor, with 120 foot soldiers and 20 horse, and had provisions for twelve months. When summoned by Colonel Morgan for the Parliament, it surrendered in two days without firing a shot. The Castle was slighted and the Parliamentary Commissioners seized the Castle and manor, and sold them to Thomas Westrowe for £3133 6s. 8d. At the Restoration they were given back to the Bishop of Worcester.


Holt Castle[edit]

Holt castle 850843 62546082.jpg

Work began on Holt Castle in the 13th century during the Welsh Wars. The castle was sited on the Welsh-English border by the banks of the River Dee.

In the medieval period, the five-towered fortress was actually known as Castrum Leonis or Castle Lyons because it had a Lion motif carved into the stonework above its main gate. In the 17th century, almost all the stonework was removed from the site; only the base of the sandstone foundation remain.

The castle was built from local sandstone on top of a 12m high promontory. It was shaped like a pentagon with towers at each corner. The castle had a stepped ramp up to a main gateway, barbican, inner ward, postern and curtain walls. There was also a water-filled moat that was fed from the River Dee. The design of the castle featured towers that were built against the face of the rock outside the curtain wall, similar to the inner wards at Ruthin Castle and at Conwy Castle.

Holt castle was started by Edward I on a sandstone base next to the River Dee soon after the invasion of North Wales in 1277. In 1282 Edward I presented the Welsh lands in which Holt was situated to loyal lord John de Warrene, who was also given the task of completing the castle. By 1311 the castle had been finished and a planned town laid out next to it for the use by English settlers.

A century later, Welsh forces burned down the town in 1400 during the uprising of Owain Glyndŵr; although the castle was not taken. By the 16th century Holt Castle had fallen disuse and ruin.

In 1643, during the English Civil War Holt was garrisoned by Royalists troops. Three years later, after holding out for a year during a second siege, Holt became the last castle to be captured by Parliamentarian forces in north-east Wales. Holt Castle was slighted in 1650 to stop it being used as a fortification by any royalist supporters.

Worcester Castle[edit]

The Edgar Tower, Worcester - geograph.org.uk - 503034.jpg

Worcester Castle was a Norman fortification built between 1068 and 1069 in Worcester, England by Urse d'Abetot on behalf of William the Conqueror. The castle had a motte-and-bailey design and was located on the south side of the old Anglo-Saxon city, cutting into the grounds of Worcester Cathedral. Royal castles were owned by the king and maintained on his behalf by an appointed constable. At Worcester that role was passed down through the local Beauchamp family on a hereditary basis, giving them permanent control of the castle and considerable power within the city. The castle played an important part in the wars of the 12th and early 13th century, including the Anarchy and the First Barons' War.

In 1217, Henry III's government decided to break the power of the Beauchamps and reduce the ongoing military threat posed by the castle by returning much of the castle's bailey to the cathedral. Without an intact bailey the castle was no longer valuable militarily, although it played a small part in the Second Barons' War in the 1260s. A gaol had been built in the castle by the early 13th century and the castle continued to be used as Worcestershire's county gaol until the 19th century, when a new prison was built on the north side of Worcester and the old site completely redeveloped. Today nothing remains of Worcester Castle with the exception of Edgar's Tower, a cathedral gatehouse built on the former entrance to the castle.