Castles

Once a Castle, Now a Farm

Original castle entrance  Lavendon(1) Entering the main bailey through the original entrance, this is the end of Castle Farm’s modern drive that goes down to the Harrold road. The brick building top right is also visible in the photo of the bailey edge.

Lavendon is right on the edge of North Bucks, and just to the North of the village you can find the earthworks of quite a big 12th Century castle.

The castle had a motte for the keep and three attached baileys, though one of them isn’t really a defensive earthwork.

The main bailey still has its original entrance on the South East side, and there’s another entrance on the North West side which leads to the big, non defensive bailey.

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The Year, In Pictures

Here's a look at some of my favourite posts from 2022, just to whet your appetite for next year.

If you can think of any new subjects you would like me to cover (In North Bucks of course) please get in touch! I can't guarantee to use them, but I'll certainly look into each idea.

Half a House is Better Than None


Market Square and Horn St. widening

From February, a road widening scheme in Winslow from over 100 years ago. It had been a “a very sharp and dangerous corner” said the Buckingham Advertiser and North Bucks Free Press, when the work was completed.

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Back to the Hill

Typepad is having technical problems after moving to a new server which means I cannot upload photos, so I am republishing posts from the NBW archives. This Monday Photo is from November 2020. Yes, I know today is Friday...Wing motte  Bucks

Wing’s Castle Hill
The Monday Photo

Right next to the end of Wing’s High Street by the turn to Stewkley is a motte; the mound where Wing’s Norman castle keep once stood. To the North of the mound are earthworks that are probably the edge of the original bailey.

There’s no evidence of stonework on the motte; it would most likely have been a timber keep, and a ditch and palisade defensive wall around the bailey.

Wing Castle was smaller than Castlethorpe’s, but the reason for it being there was the same; to dominate the area.

The castle is set near the top of the hill. It could see, and be seen from, anywhere from due North to nearly due South, including the Roman road that came through Stewkley from the North, and met Akeman Street to the South after going through Mentmore and Pitstone.

This road may have been an important local route, and a main reason for the castle’s position.

It’s fairly common to see a motte with a church nearby, on the site of the castle chapel. But Wing church is half a mile away and the oldest part is Saxon, so there was a settlement here long before the castle came. That’s unlike Castlethorpe where the village formed because of the castle.

The motte is about twenty feet (6 metres) high, and a hundred feet (30 metres) across. It will have eroded over the centuries and the sides would once have been steeper, the top wider and higher.

But now it’s just another piece of history, though a woman who lives very close to it told me she was glad it was there, because it meant the field would never get built on. Oh well.

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Not by Royal Appointment

Bolobec castle bailey  from the motteThe bailey is visible from the motte, (foreground) with the cut across the spur forming a moat between them. Castle lane runs along the moat side.

Bolobec Castle in Whitchurch was built for one civil war and destroyed in another, but in between it was a military strongpoint for 500 years.

In the 12th Century England was in the middle of a civil war known today as The Anarchy. Henry I had died on 1st December 1135, and had previously named his daughter Empress Matilda as heir.

But his nephew Stephen moved fast. He crossed the channel from Boulogne to England, then seized the crown on 22nd December. He had the support in England of some of the barons.

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Wing’s Castle Hill

Wing motte  Bucks

The Monday Photo

Right next to the end of Wing’s High Street by the turn to Stewkley is a motte; the mound where Wing’s Norman castle keep once stood. To the North of the mound are earthworks that are probably the edge of the original bailey.

There’s no evidence of stonework on the motte; it would most likely have been a timber keep, and a ditch and palisade defensive wall around the bailey.

Wing Castle was smaller than Castlethorpe’s, but the reason for it being there was the same; to dominate the area.

The castle is set near the top of the hill. It could see, and be seen from, anywhere from due North to nearly due South, including the Roman road that came through Stewkley from the North, and met Akeman Street to the South after going through Mentmore and Pitstone.

This road may have been an important local route, and a main reason for the castle’s position.

It’s fairly common to see a motte with a church nearby, on the site of the castle chapel. But Wing church is half a mile away and the oldest part is Saxon, so there was a settlement here long before the castle came. That’s unlike Castlethorpe where the village formed because of the castle.

The motte is about twenty feet (6 metres) high, and a hundred feet (30 metres) across. It will have eroded over the centuries and the sides would once have been steeper, the top wider and higher.

But now it’s just another piece of history, though a woman who lives very close to it told me she was glad it was there, because it meant the field would never get built on. Oh well.

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The Half Hidden Castle

Castlethorpe's castleTaken from the high bank of the outer bailey, you can see the inner bailey with its ditch.(1) Inside the bailey is the church, (4) and to the right of the church, the motte. (2)

Castlethorpe’s earthworks are well known, but it’s hard to work out the layout of the castle from the great ditches in the field behind the church.

The high mound of the motte where the keep once stood is obvious enough, but half the castle is hidden beneath the modern village, unless you know where to look and what to look for.

First, what are we looking for? Hanslope Castle, as it was once known, had a nearly circular inner bailey with the motte and the keep inside it. A much bigger outer bailey, nearly rectangular, surrounded it.

The castle covered nearly 20 acres.

It was a wooden castle. The baileys were each surrounded by a ditch, a wooden palisade, and a bank with a wall walk on top. There was a gatehouse in each one.

Castlethorpe CastleThe castle. Numbers in the photo captions refer to the numbers on this plan.

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