A Conversation for Great Castles

Castles of the Isle of Wight (& Hampshire)

Post 1


The Isle of Wight has many fine castles - a neccesity considering the amount of time that it was under constant attack from the "foul forces of France" smiley - winkeye

Carisbrooke Castle in particular is a very fine castle, with Saxon/Roman roots, and a fine history including being under seige in the Civil War between King Stephen and Empress Matilda in 1136, was beseiged by the French in particular in 1377, and held King Charles I captive between q1647 and September 1649, where he made 3 failed attempts to escape. His daughter, Princess Elizabeth, died in Carisbrooke Castle on 8th September 1650. It also houses a donkey-powered well, and was central to the plot of the classic novel "Moonfleet" by J. Meade Faulkner (1898).

Castles of the Isle of Wight (& Hampshire)

Post 2


Henry VIII also built castles on the Isle of Wight to defend it from the French, including Sandown Castle, East Cowes Castle and Cowes Castle and Yarmouth Castle:

Sandown Castle, whilst still being built, was attacked by the same French force that the Mary Rose sank whilst attempting to engage. It was later rebuilt, and the successive Sandown Castle was attacked during the American War of Independance by American privateers - most of whom died in the attempt.

Cowes Castle, on the other hand, has a long and distinctive history involved in yachting, being the home of the Royal Yacht Squadren. It was from Cowes Castle that the original America's Cup in 1851 started. Only once did it fire it's guns in anger: during the English Civil War in 1642. The canon now begin the races that take place there, including the Admiral's Cup and the Round-The-Island Yacht Race. In 1650 Sir William D'Avenant was held in Cowes Castle. He was the godson of William Shakespeare, and rumours at the time suggested that he was Shakespeare's son, and was the Poet Laureate after Ben Jonson.

Palaces of the Isle of Wight (& Hampshire)

Post 3


There have also been Palaces on the Island as well. In the 1790s, two castles were built at East Cowes. One was called East
Cowes Castle and was more of a mansion than a castle; it should not be confused with the original castle. It was built by John Nash, the famous architect who designed Regent Street and Regent's Park in London. Sadly, it no longer exists.

The other, Norris Castle, does still exist. It is a romantic castle featuring both square and round towers. Although designed as an imitation castle and not a real one, it is still impressive, especially with the enormous cellars below, and the spectacular sea view.

They were palaces for the wealthy, and not royalty, yet there is a Royal Palace in the form of Osborne House.
Queen Victoria (1837 - 1901), despite having Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and the Brighton Pavilion to live in, did not rate any of them to be suitable as a family home. In 1845, she purchased the original Osborne House and an estate of 342 acres from Lady Isabella Blachford. This was too small so Thomas Cubitt was contracted to build a new Osborne House on the site, to the design of Victoria's husband Prince Albert. In June 1845 the foundation of the new pavilion wing was laid, and it was occupied in 1846. The household wing was completed in 1848, and work was started on demolishing the remainder of the old house and building the main wing in its place. By 1851 all the construction work was complete, except for the Durbar wing which was finished in 1891.

Queen Victoria lived here as often as she could, and found that the Isle of Wight's ambience and weather were similar to the Bay of Naples in Italy. The house was three stories high, with a 90ft clock tower and a 107ft flag tower. The estate soon grew to be over 2,000 acres, and included a summer house, Swiss cottage, a museum and a mock fort. It was here at Osborne House that Queen Victoria died on 22 January, 1901.

Castles of Hampshire

Post 4


Hampshire, too, has some good castles - seeing Southampton's town walls and castle is a must:

and Portchester Castle in particular is definately worth seeing - it was originally a Roman Castle - featuring the most complete Roman walls in Northern Europe. It was here that Carausias declared himself Emperor of Britain between 285-293 AD. It was also the home of King Edward The Eldar, King John, King Henry II and King Edward II. It was here that King Edward III ralied his troops before his victory at Crecy. In 1396, King Richard II built a palace inside Portchester Castle. Henry V also set off from Portchester Castle on his way to France.

Also worth seeing are Calshot and Southsea castles.


Castles of Hampshire

Post 5


Complete list of Castles In Hampshire:
Ashley Castle - only earthworks remain.
Barley Pound Castle - only earthworks remain.
Basing House - built inside a medieval castle, but the castle no longer exists.
Bishop Waltham's Palace - built by the brother of King Stephen, Henry de Blois, but was destroyed by Henry II. It was rebuilt, but destroyed by Parliament during the English Civil War on the 11th April 1644.
Calshot Castle - Built by Henry VIII in 1540 with Isle of Wight Binstead stone from Beaulieu and Netley Abbeys, and is at the end of a spit projecting into the Solent, and was designed to function in conjunctyion with Hurst, East Cowes and Cowes Castles.
Christchurch Castle - technically in Dorset since 1974. Originally called Twynham Castle, only the Keep and Constavle's House remain. It was used against King Stephen, but captured in 1148, and again in 1153. It was captured in teh English Civil War of 1646, and Oliver Cromwell ordered it to be demolished.
Godshill Castle - built in 1148, only earthworks remain.
Hamble Castle - eroded by the river Hamble, only stones at low tide remain.
Highcliffe Castle - a gothic house built in 1830.
Highclere Castle - a mansion built 1839-1842 - the biggest mansion in Hampshire.
Hurst Castle - on the end of a mile-longe spit, built in 1538 from stone from Beauliea & Netley, strengthened aganist attack in 1589, 1593 and 1873 as part of Palmerston's defences. It was still manned during the Seond World War. It is said to be haunted by a monk, and is without doubt one of the finest Henrician castles.
Merdon Castle - built in 1138 by Henry de Blois on the remains of an iron-age fort, and was used to help besiege Empress Matilda in Winchester Castle. Henry II dismantled all of Henry de Blois castles, but this became a bishop's palace. It now is a set of ruined walls, with several local legends surrounding its well.
Netley Castle - a castle built by Henry VIII in 1542 as a single-story crenelatted paprapet. It was transformed in 1857 into the gothic tower it is today.
Odiham castle - built by 1212 for King John, as his favourite castle. It remains as an octaganol keep. In 1216 was defended by 13 men against Prince Louis the Dauphin's French army of 140 knights and 7,000 men. The men surrendered, but only on highly favourable terms. In 1224 it was given to Princess Eleanor - Henry II's sister, and was later used by Edward II against Robert le Ewer. In 1340, King David II of Scotland was imprisoned at Odiham Castle after his unsuccesful claim to the English throne. It is now in a ruined state.
Portchester Castle - see above.
Portsmouth - no castle as such, but several defences. First fortifified in 1194, a point battery built in 1494 and a tower was built in 1635, although many defences are from 1827. The Round Tower was built in the 1540s but rebuilt in 1683 , and a battery was built aklongside in 1870.
Powderham Castle - a motte & bailey castle - only earthworks remain.
Southampton - see above.
Southsea Castle - buitl between 1539 & 1544, designed by Henry VIII himself. It was updated in 1850, and was in use by the military until the 1960s. Southsea castle was descibed in 1544 as "praised by all men that have seen it". It was from Southsea Castle that Henry VIII saw the Mary Rose sink in the French Invasion of 1545. It was captured by Parliament in the English Civil War.
Warblington Castle - a large manor house that was granted a licence to crenalate in 1340, only an octaganol turret of the gatehouse remains.
Winchester - As the capital of Wessex, it had 2 castles - one for the Bishop (called "Wolvesey Castle") and one for the King . The King's castle was built in 1067 by William the conquerer, and held the Domesday Book. It was held by the Empress Matilda when attacked by King Stephen - Matilda is said to have escaped by pretending to be a corpse in a coffin. It was Henry II's favourite castle, and Richard I held his second coronation here. In 1207 Henry III was born in the castle. In 1216, Prince Louis easily captured the castle, after which it was extensively fortified. In 1486 Henry VIII's son Arthur was born at Winchester Castle, and in 1603 it was hwere that Sir Walter Raleigh was sentenced to death. It was a Royalist Castle in the Civil War, and was captured by Parliament and slighted. Sir Christopher Wren started to rebuild it as a palace for King Charles II, but this was not finished. Only the Hall, one of the finest Medieval Halls in England, remains - at one end hangs the round table of King Arthur.
Wolvesey Castle - the other castle of Winchester built in 1110 by Henry of Blois, King Stephen's brother and Bishop of Winchester. The keep was built in 1138. It was destroyed when Henry II ascended to the throne, but was rebuilt by 1171 as a palace. The keep and north end of the hall survive to this day.
Wootton St. Lawrence - only earthworks remain.


Castles of the Isle of Wight & Hampshire

Post 6


Yarmouth Castle:
Yarmouth Castle was built to defend the port of Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight, and originally was built as a square, walled enclosure surrounded by a ditch, with a triangular bastion on the south-eastern corner. It was expanded in the 1560s, but it is the earliest surviving angle-bastioned fortification in the British Isles and is open to the public.
It costs £2:20 for adults, £1:10 for children. It is next to the Wightlink ferry in Yarmouth.

Carrisbrooke Castle is near Newport, follow the signs from there. It costs £4:50 for adults, and £2:30 for Children.
Sandown Castle - demolished and rebuilt as Sandown Fort, now Sandown Zoo.
Cowes Castle - there are three ways to enter the Royal Yacht Squadren's headquarters:
1.) Be royalty.
2.) Be a multi-millionaire who owns several yachts and knows how to sale them.
3.) Be able to sail to the local standard.
However, the local standard not only includes Ellen MacArthur MBE, but Cowes also hosts several Olympic Gold Medalists (won in the Sydney Olympics) and the America's Cup GBR Challenge team...

Portchester Castle - a short walk from Portchester station between Portsmouth & Southampton. £3 for adults, £1:50 for kids
Calshot Castle - on Calshot Spit - £2 for adults, £1 for children
Hurst Castle - £2:70 for adults, £1:50 for children
Winchester Westgate - not exactly a castle, but a medieval gateway. £0.30p for adults, 20p for children.

Forts of the Isle of Wight

Post 7


In the late 1850s onwards, following the threatened invasion from France, several forts were also built on the Isle of Wight. These include:

(From the West)
Old Needles Battery - a museum owned by the National Trust
New Needles Battery - also owned by the National Trust, but as it isn't a pretty cottage that can be used as a picture on the front of a box of fudge they don't care about it.
Hatherwood Point Battery
Warden Point Battery
Fort Albert - now flats
Cliff End Battery
Fort Victoria - contains a planetarium, Britain's largest model railway, an aquarium, sunken History Museum and a large country park.
Golden Hill Fort - put up for sale in January 2002 - asking price: £1,000,000.
Freshwater Redoubt - a very nice cafe.
Bouldner Battery
Sandown Barrack Battery - now part of the Battery Gardens park, with the Barracks now part of the Heights swimming pool.
Sandown Fort - part of the PLUTO pump network during the Second World War, pumping petrol to France, now Sandown Zoo.
Yaverland Battery - no longer exists
Redcliff Battery - very little remains.
Bembridge Fort - owned by the National Trust but leased to industry as they don't like forts, only cottage ornes.
Culver Battery - still survives (just) despite being owned by the National Trust.
Steynewood Battery
Nodes Point Battery
Puckpool Mortar Battary - a park, containing a radio museum that contains some of Marconi's experimental equipment.

The Sea Forts:
St Helen's Fort - privately owned
No Man's Land Fort - recently up for sale for £10,000,000
Horse Sand Fort - owned by the MoD
Spitbank Fort -

These sea-forts were built to prevent any ship from entering the Solent on the East without coming into range of their big guns.
I plan to write a Uni Project on these forts soon.


Forts of the Isle of Wight

Post 8


Hiya Bluebottle, glad to see you are still mad on the iow, though I was very disappointed by the lack of wind over new year as I had a new kite to fly. smiley - sadface

Yarmouth castle is quite nice castle, but it has one feature which is outstanding, the roof. Whilst everyone else on the island was crammed on the coast, to see the America's Cup round the island race this summer, I was sitting on the battlements (think that's what they are called) with a perfect view. For only £2.20 or whatever I must have had one of the best views of the closing stages of the race. (I also got sunburned). There was the added advantage of the castle which had displays on the history of castles on the south coast and some very nice comparison paintings of now and 'olden times'

Carrisbroke castle is great. It's one of those huge places with buildings inside and a tall hill in one corner, originating from a motte and bailey castle. Over the summer it has tonnes of events on. I went to a play called the Bard and the Blade. Which was scenes from shakespeare with 'fake' fighting. It then had a workshop at the end so the audience could learn a bit of stage fighting. This turned out to be one dad, my boyfriend's 6 foot odd brother, me and about 20 under fives. We may of looked silly, but I can break someone's fingers now.
The castle stages other events, there were posters for falconry displays, jousting, archery displays (ie medieval malarkey). There are also some lovely donkeys which turn the well. Well worth a smelly look.

Oh Fort Victoria is a bit of a pain to park at so arrive early if viewing an event (boat race) or go on a quiet day.

SallyM smiley - smiley

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Castles of the Isle of Wight (& Hampshire)

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