Wallingford Castle

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The ruins of Wallingford Castle

Wallingford Castle was a castle in Wallingford in the English county of Oxfordshire (formerly Berkshire ). The construction was initiated by Robert D'Oyly and carried out between 1067 and 1071. Wallingford Castle is a typical Norman hilltop castle . One of the most famous inhabitants of the castle was the Empress Matilda , which is the only legitimate daughter of King I. Henry was. She had to flee to Wallingford Castle during a conquest of Oxford Castle .


The early years of the castle

It is known from the early days of the castle that after D'Oyly the castle came into the possession of his son-in-law Miles Crispin . After his death it came to Brian FitzCount . The latter married the daughter of Robert D'Oylys after the death of Crispin. FitzCount was responsible for ensuring that the castle was fortified with stone walls. The castle played an important role in a siege by King Stephen . This siege took place in the context of a dispute over the trip of the Empress Matilda to England. The lord of the castle FitzCount took the side of the empress and opposed Stephan. As already mentioned, it was here that the Empress escaped to Wallingford. Stephan was unsuccessful in his siege. But this should not be the king's last attempt to conquer this castle. Between 1145 and 1146 he tried again with great effort, but this time too he was not granted any success. Although he built his own castle in what is now Crowmarsh Gifford , he was unable to carry out his plan to starve Wallingford Castle into reality. In 1152, Stephan returned to try again to starve out the castle. Brian Fitzcount was assisted in his defense by the son of Miles Crispin. It was Roger Fitzmiles . After the castle got more and more distressed, Fitzcount was supported by the son of Empress Matilda, Heinrich II . The situation came to a head outside the castle and the dispute was settled with the Wallingford Treaty of 1153. Brian Fitzcount, who remained without an heir, later left the castle to Henry II. At the end of the 12th century, Wallingford Castle, along with the town, came into the possession of the future King Johann Ohneland . This also happened in the context of sieges. Johann operated on a large scale from Wallingford Castle and had it further fortified.

13th to 15th centuries

In 1231 Wallingford Castle became King Henry III. handed over as the main residence. He had the castle expanded and added a large hall and other luxurious buildings. This boom came to an end when Heinrich became King of the Romans in 1251 . After an interlude in which Simon de Montfort had taken over the castle, Heinrich III got himself. the castle and it remained the seat of the incumbent Earl of Cornwall until the end of the 13th century .

Edward II used the castle as a prison. After he was overthrown by his wife Isabelle de France , she used the castle as headquarters during her military operations in England. Isabella's son, who later became King Edward III. decided that the castle should serve as the seat of the Duke of Cornwall he had appointed. Prisoners could break out of the castle, which subsequently served as a prison. In order to keep it as a prison, the crown had to repeatedly intervene financially. It didn't play an important role during the Wars of the Roses . Henry VIII used it for the last time as a royal residence in 1518.

16th to 19th century

A section that survived the destruction after the civil war

During the 16th century the castle was more and more forgotten. During the reign of Mary I it was partially dismantled to get lead and other building materials that were needed for Windsor Castle . The castle was still used as a prison, but many prisoners were able to escape. After the castle had been owned by the nobility for a long time, Charles I was able to bring it back into the possession of the crown. Karl gave the castle to his wife Henrietta Maria of France .

During the English Civil War , which was fought between the King and Parliament, the Wallingford area was one of the sites of the fighting. The city became one of the bases of Charles's supporters. A defensive garrison was built here in 1642. A certain Thomas Bragge was appointed governor of Wallingford by Karl. He should fasten the lock again. In 1644 the surrounding towns of Abingdon and Reading had fallen to the Roundheads . Wallingford Castle, however, could not be taken. The siege continued until 1646. In the end you had to give up and hand over the lock to the opponents.

So after the supporters of parliament had taken over the castle, they decided to partially demolish the castle so that any rebels could no longer find shelter here. The castle was largely razed . Except for one building, which was used as a prison until the 18th century, everything was torn down. In 1700 a house was built in the castle courtyard, in 1837 a villa was built in the same place.


  • Jim Bradbury: Stephen and Matilda: the Civil War of 1139-1153. Allan Sutton publ. Limited, Stroud 1998.
  • Peter R. Newman: Atlas of the English Civil War Routledge. London u. a. 1998.
  • Daniel Lysons: Magna Britannia. Vol. 1.2, London 1813.
  • Trevor Rowley, Mike Breakell: Planning and the Historic Environment. Oxford University Department for External Studies, Oxford 1977.

Web links

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

Coordinates: 51 ° 36 '11.9 "  N , 1 ° 7' 16.8"  W.