Sunday, 6 May 2012

Hedingham Castle and Gardens

Hedingham Castle has one of the best preserved Norman Keeps in the country and belonged to the De Vere family.

Aubrey de Vere was one of William the Conqueror's most favoured knights. After the Battle of Hastings he was given land in many counties including Middlesex where he owned Kensington and Earls Court. His son Aubrey II built a huge castle at Hedingham c.1140 using the Archbishop of Canterbury as his architect. Aubrey III was created Ist Earl of Oxford by Queen Matilda and the castle remained the stronghold of the de Veres for 550 years and is still owned by a descendant. The Norman keep with its magnificent banqueting hall and minstrels' gallery is now the only remaining evidence of this great medieval castle and its later extensive Tudor buildings.
The immensely rich and powerful de Veres were one of the most important medieval families who, as Lord Great Chamberlains, gave loyal service and military leadership to their kings and queens for over 500 years. Hedingham had many royal visitors including King Henry VII, King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I.

The Earls of Oxford were great crusaders and Aubrey, 2nd Earl fought with Richard Coeur de Lion and Robert, 3rd Earl was one of the barons who forced King John to sign the Magna Carta in 1215. The following year Hedingham Castle was besieged by King John, and again by the Dauphin of France in 1217. The de Veres were commanders throughout history and featured at the Siege of Caerlaverock and the famous battles of Crecy, Poitiers, Agincourt and Bosworth. John, 15th Earl took part in the Battle of the Spurs and accompanied King Henry VIII at the Field of the Cloth of Gold, and as Lord
Great Chamberlain bore the crown at Anne Boleyn's coronation. John, 16th Earl escorted young Elizabeth from Hatfield to London for her coronation in 1559 and his wife Margery became her maid of honour. In 1561 Queen Elizabeth I aged twenty-eight stayed at Hedingham from August 14th-19th, and Edward,17th Earl, became one of her favourites and was acclaimed to be the best of the courtier poets.

At this point be are about to walk across the now dry moat to enter the keep (all that is left of the castle)

Passing some birds of prey

As in most castles the walls are so thick there has to be steps up to the 'windows'

Lots of visual information in all areas 

The Chapel

lavatory - filled with aromatic herbs

Looking down into the Banqueting Hall from the Minstrel's Gallery containing the largest arch in Norman domestic architecture

The Pecking order of the Falconry on the way in

How the keep would have looked

The top floor 
children come here to study

On leaving we shall be walking around the lovely village where we will have lunch in the next post
It is September so nice reminders of Summer


Merisi in Vienna said...

The sheer number of your country's gorgeous palaces and gardens is astonishing, to say the least. And one more interesting and beautiful than the other.

Thank you for introducing me to all this beauty and history which otherwise I might have missed out on.


Annie Jeffries said...

What an exciting visit I had, Barbara. The history was fascinating, the schematic of the Keep truly interesting. I can't, for the life of me, tell you why, but the presence of the toilet really made me laugh. I tried to figure out how it might have been set up, by I completely failed.

Drottning M said...

WOW!!! thank you for these pictures, its like travelling without having to leave my kitchen!!!


Vee said...

All very interesting. I can't imagine life in a castle. It doesn't seem one bit comfortable. The gardens and woodlands are lovely, of course, and the pools. It's quite amazing to think of the architectural skills that the builders of the day had.

Here's to better weather days ahead!

Midwest to Midlands said...

How very interesting and it just makes me think they sure don't build them like they used to do they? Just amazing.

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

Thank you for sharing . Seeing that castle makes some of the books I have read come to life. It's hard to imagine someone actually living there. I loved seeing all your pictures!

Michelle-ozark crafter said...

That was so much fun!

DeniseB said...

I love exploring castles. I have not been to this one, but I hope to come visit again next year so you are giving me ideas on places to see. I want to polish up on history again before I come. I studied a bit of British history but it gets confusing! thanks again for sharing your photos!

Cheri said...

Loved the post! The pictures were so good and the post was so interesting. Thanks for sharing.

Diane at My Cottage Garden said...

Hard for me to imagine. SO old and still in such amazing shape. Thanks for sharing this place.

Patsy said...

I sure did enjoy the tour of Darwins home and the Hedingham Castle and Gardens.
Hope you can get in your garden soon to get the work done.

Lori Zehr said...

I was fascinated with this post. I learned something--the windows had steps! How fortunate you are to have all that history surrounding you!