Odiham Castle

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Odiham Castle
Odiham, Hampshire, England
Odiham Castle.jpg
Ruins of Odiham Castle.
Type Shell keep with outer bailey
Site information
Owner Hampshire County Council
Open to
the public
Yes
Condition Ruin
Site history
Built 1207 - 1214
In use Until mid 16th century
Built by King John
Materials Flint
Lime Mortar
Timber
Height Up to 9 metres (30 ft)
Battles/wars First Barons' War
Events Hosted Parliament in the 13th Century
Prison of Scottish King David II

Odiham Castle (also known locally as King John's Castle) is a ruined castle situated near Odiham in Hampshire, United Kingdom. It is one of only three fortresses built by King John during his reign.

The site was possibly chosen by King John because he had visited the area in 1204 and it lay halfway between Windsor and Winchester.

Construction[edit]

Odiham Castle was built on 20 acres (81,000 m2) of land acquired from local lord, Robert the Parker; utilising a modified bend of the River Whitewater.

The castle, which took seven years to complete, had a two-storey stone keep and a square moat. There were also raised banking and palisades. Notably the stronghold also had a domus regis or 'king's house'.

Scrolls held in the public records office reveal that total expenditure between 1207 and 1214, when work ceased, amounted to £1,000 (equivalent of £11.4m in 2009).

History[edit]

In 1215 it was from either Odiham or Windsor that King John rode out to Runnymede where he met the barons and signed the Magna Carta. A year later Odiham Castle was captured by the French after a two-week siege during the First Barons' War in 1216.[1] The garrison of just 13 surrendered on July 9 1216.[1]At some point over the next 9 years the keep was completely rebuilt possibly due to the damage done to it by the French forces.[1] At the same time the mound on which the keep sat was raised by 5 meters and an inner moat surrounding the keep was added to the defenses.[2]

Odiham Castle might have become one of the most important strongholds in England. In 1238 Simon de Montfort married King John's daughter Eleanor just two years after she had been granted Odiham by her brother, King Henry III.[3] In the following year a kitchen was added on a bridge over the inner moat and a new hall was added on the outside of the keep.[3] During the same period a second building was constructed over the moat this time on the south eastern side of the keep to provide extra living space. [4]

In 1263 De Monfort rebelled against Henry and died at the Battle of Evesham in 1265 and Eleanor was exiled. Odiham Castle was again retained by the Crown.

The castle was also involved in the rebellion led by the powerful Despenser family against Roger Mortimer and Queen Isabella of France, the wife of Edward II.

During the fourteenth century Odiham hosted Parliament. Scottish King David II, after his capture at the Battle of Neville's Cross in 1346, was also imprisoned here for 11 years. However he was held under light guard and was allowed to keep a household. Using the castle as a prison seems to have been common practice during the 13th and 14th centuries with the nearby Manor of Greywell required to provide guards one night in three.[5]

By the 15th century Odiham was used only as a hunting-lodge. In 1605 the former royal castle was described as a ruin.

In 1792 the Basingstoke Canal was built through the southern corner of the bailey.[6]

Present day[edit]

Odiham Castle is open to the public. The only visible remains are part of the octagonal keep and outlying earthworks. In September 2007 Hampshire County Council undertook a restoration of the shell keep under guidance from English Heritage.[7] The most southerly corner of the moat survives in the form of a small overgrown pond on the opposite side of the canal from the rest of the castle.[6]

Two series of archaeological excavations have been carried out at the castle, one in 1953 reported in a local newspaper, and the other between 1981–1985, carried out by Hampshire County Council Museum Services.[8]

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Willoughby, Rupert (1998). A key to Odiham castle. pp. 2–3. 
  2. ^ Willoughby, Rupert (1998). A key to Odiham castle. p. 4. 
  3. ^ a b Willoughby, Rupert (1998). A key to Odiham castle. p. 5. 
  4. ^ Willoughby, Rupert (1998). A key to Odiham castle. p. 9. 
  5. ^ Willoughby, Rupert (1998). A key to Odiham castle. p. 7. 
  6. ^ a b Willoughby, Rupert (1998). A key to Odiham castle. p. 19. 
  7. ^ Hampshire County Council (2006). "Odiham Castle". Countryside Service. Retrieved 2007-12-07. 
  8. ^ Stoodley, Nick (2010), Odiham Castle Hampshire, Excavations 1981–85, Hampshire Studies: Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club and Archaeological Society: 32  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)

Further reading[edit]

  • MacGregor, Patricia (1983), Odiham Castle, 1200–1500: Castle and Community, Sutton, ISBN 0-86299-030-0 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°15′41.11″N 0°57′42.20″W / 51.2614194°N 0.9617222°W / 51.2614194; -0.9617222