Berkhamsted Castle

Berkhamsted Castle is a Norman motte-and-bailey castle at Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire, England. The castle was built during the Norman conquest of England in the 11th century to control a key route between London and the Midlands. Robert of Mortain, William the Conqueror's half brother, was probably responsible for the construction and became the subsequent owner of the fortification. A motte and bailey design, the castle was surrounded by extensive protective earthworks and a deer park for hunting. The future town of Berkhamsted grew up alongside it. Subsequent kings granted the castle to their chancellors and it was substantially extended in the mid-12th century, probably by Thomas Becket.

The castle was besieged in 1216 during the civil war between King John and rebel barons, backed by France. It was successfully taken after Prince Louis, the future Louis VIII, attacked it with siege engines for twenty days, leading the garrison to surrender. Reclaimed by royal forces the subsequent year, it was passed to Richard the Earl of Cornwall, beginning a long associate with the earldom and the later duchy. Richard redeveloped the castle as a palatial residence and the centre of his administration of the Earldom of Cornwall. Edward III further developed the castle in the 14th century and gave it to his son, Edward, the Black Prince who extended the hunting grounds. It was used to hold royal prisoners, including John II of France and rival claimants to the English throne.

In the late-15th century, Berkhamsted Castle became increasingly unfashionable and was left to fall into decline. By the middle of the 16th century it was described as being in ruins and was unsuitable for royal use. Stone was taken from the castle to build neighbouring houses and parts of the town. The castle narrowly escaped destruction during the construction of the London and Birmingham Railway in the 1830s, becoming the first building in Britain to receive statutory protection from Parliament. In 1930 it passed from the Duchy of Cornwall to the control of the state and in the 21st century is run as a tourist attraction by English Heritage.

Other articles related to "berkhamsted castle, castles, castle":

Berkhamsted Castle - History - 20th - 21st Centuries
... The Office of Works acquired Berkhamsted Castle from the Duchy of Cornwall in 1930 ... it "one of the best surviving motte and bailey castles" in England ... The castle is protected by law as an ancient monument ...
Berkhamsted - Castle
... Berkhamsted Castle is a ruined Norman castle, beside the railway station ... Now in the care of English Heritage, this royal castle was once the home of Edward, the Black Prince and his wife, Joan of Kent ... first started on the construction of the castle in 1066 ...

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