Berkhamsted Castle is a Norman motte-and-bailey castle built in 1066 during the Norman conquest of England. Chroniclers suggest that the Archbishop of York surrendered to William the Conqueror in Berkhamsted, who ordered the construction of the castle before proceeding south into London. Berkhamsted was designed as a fortress, with impressive earthwork defences, high motte and stone curtain wall.
The castle was substantially expanded in the mid-12th century, probably by Thomas Becket. Later in 1164, during his quarrel with the king, Becket was accused of embezzlement and deprived of the honour of Berkhamsted.
Berkhamsted Castle was besieged in 1216 during the civil war between King John and rebellious barons and successfully captured after Prince Louis, the future Louis VIII, attacked it with siege engines for twenty days. After being retaken, the castle was given to Richard, Earl of Cornwall, who redeveloped it as a palatial residence. Edward III further developed the castle in the 14th century.
In the late 15th century, the castle became increasingly unfashionable and fell into decline, being abandoned in 1495 after the death of Cecily Neville, the Duchess of York. Stone was taken from the castle during the 16th century to build houses and other buildings in the town.
Visit Berkhamsted Castle
White Hill, Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, HP4 1LJ
0370 333 1181
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