Hedingham Castle

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Hedingham Castle
Keep of Hedingham Castle

Keep of Hedingham Castle

Creation time : around 1140
Conservation status: Receive
Standing position : High nobility
Place: Castle Hedingham , Essex
Geographical location 51 ° 59 ′ 33 "  N , 0 ° 36 ′ 4"  E Coordinates: 51 ° 59 ′ 33 "  N , 0 ° 36 ′ 4"  E
Floor plan of Hedingham Castle

Hedingham Castle is a stone as Keep on a moth built castle near the village of Castle Hedingham in the English county of Essex . Located in the Colne Valley on the old Colchester to Cambridge road , it was the ancestral home of the de Vere family for over five centuries .


A first Hedingham Castle was built on this site at the end of the 11th or beginning of the 12th century by Aubrey I. de Vere , a Norman nobleman. He was one of the vassals of William the Conqueror , who were rewarded with possessions after his success. The Domesday Book from 1086 lists Aubrey I as the owner, the property was one of the larger holdings and even owned vineyards.

Also to present the increased importance of the family, between 1130 and 1150 under Aubrey II. Or Aubrey III. the stone main castle built. In 1133 Aubrey II was., Son and heir of the first Aubrey, of King Henry I the Lord Great Chamberlain appointed. 1141 was his son Aubrey III. appointed first Earl of Oxford by Empress Matilda . As part of the English War of Succession , he had to cede his castles to King Stephen in 1143 , but got them back a few years later. Mathilda of Boulogne , wife of King Stephen, died on May 3, 1152 at Hedingham Castle.

In 1216 and 1217 the castle was besieged twice during the disputes between King John and the rebellious barons supported by the French heir to the throne. Both sieges were short-lived and ended successfully for the besiegers.

The castle remained in the possession of the de Vere family for centuries until Aubrey, 20th Earl of Oxford, died in 1703 without a male heir. His daughter Diana married Charles, 1st Duke of St. Albans, and sold Hedingham Castle to William Ashhurst in 1713. After his death, the inheritance passed to the Majendie family, who owned the castle for almost 250 years. It then passed to Thomas Lindsay, who was descended from the de Veres family on both his father's and his mother's side. His son, his wife and their children now live in Hedingham Castle.


The very well-preserved, stone residential tower lies on a natural rock spur that protrudes west into the valley of the Colne and was separated from the rest of the elevated landscape by a wide ditch running from north to south. A circular wall surrounded the inner courtyard, in the center of which the tower stands. An outer castle courtyard extended the complex in a southerly direction and is now the core of Castle Hedingham.

The tower is almost square and measures 18 by 16 meters with a height of over 21 meters. Two of the added oriel towers at the corners of the main tower are missing, the two preserved oriel towers protrude up to 7.6 meters above the edge of the parapet roof. The walls, built from rubble stones with lime mortar, are up to 3.4 meters thick at the base and taper to around 3 meters at the top. Unusual for a castle in Essex is the brick cladding from a quarry in Northamptonshire.

The tower is five stories high, but the second and third floors with a central supporting arch together form the imposing Great Hall (or Banqueting Hall ). The top floor was probably added in the 15th century, replacing a pyramidal roof.

The only surviving medieval building is the residential tower. All other buildings were replaced during the Tudor period , but no longer exist today, with the exception of a stone bridge. This four-arched brick bridge connected the inner and outer courtyards. Erected at the end of the 15th or the beginning of the 16th century, it was repeatedly renovated.

There was a chapel in the inner courtyard, south of the residential tower.

A red brick mansion in the style of Queen Anne's reign was built by William Ashhurst between the purchase of the property in 1693 and his death in 1719.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Doubleday / Page, 1903 , p. 533
  2. ^ Renn, DF: The Anglo-Norman Keep, 1066-1138 . Journal of the British Archaeological Association 23/1960, p. 20.
  3. ^ Davis, et al .: Regesta Regum Anglo-Normannorum . University Press, Oxford, 1913. p. 68
  4. ^ Luard, 1874 , p. 188.
  5. Disraeli, 1993 , p. 233
  6. ^ History of Hedingham Castle on the official website.
  7. ^ A b c Essex Country Council, 6786
  8. ^ A b Essex Country Council, 25226
  9. Storer, 1815 , p. 21
  10. Dixon, Philip; Marshall, Pamela: The great tower at Hedingham castle: a reassessment . Fortress, 1993, pp. 16-23.
  11. ^ Renn, Derek Frank: Norman Castles in Britain . Baker, 1973, p. 202
  12. ^ McCann, John: The Dovecote at Hedingham Castle . Essex archeology and history, 28/1997, p. 295


Web links

Commons : Hedingham Castle  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files