Hadleigh Castle, Essex

The construction of Hadleigh castle began during the reign of King Henry III in 1230 for Hubert de Burgh – 1st Earl of Kent and Chief Justiciar of England, but the castle was requisitioned in 1232 by Henry after Hubert was imprisoned.

The castle was built of Kentish ragstone and cemented by a mortar containing a large proportion of seashells; particularly cockleshells from the cockle beds of neighbouring Canvey Island. As a royal property it was heavily extended in the 1360s by Edward III and it is mainly these extensions that remain. The castle and its adjoining 500-acre (2.0 km2) park formed part of the dower of several English queens in the 15th and 16th centuries, including Elizabeth Woodville (wife of Edward IV) and three of the wives of Henry VIII, Catherine of Aragon, Anne of Cleves, and Catherine Parr. Edward VI sold it in 1551 for £700 to Lord Rich of Leez Priory in Chelmsford who used the castle as a source of stone for other buildings such as churches. The castle later passed from the possession of Lord Rich to the Barnard family.

Years of neglect and the effects of land subsidence had left the castle in ruins by the 17th century, but two towers constructed in the era of Edward III still remain. One of the three-storey towers at the eastern side built from rubble with ashlar dressings stands to nearly full height and has narrow rectangular windows in the upper levels. The second tower has not fared as well, appearing to have partially disintegrated in a landslip and consequently has lost approximately two-thirds of its form. Some sections of the curtain exist, the foundations of the great hall, two solars, and the kitchen remain. There is also a barbican which once stood adjacent to a swing-bridge.

Hadleigh Castle

Image Copyright Dave Frost – www.davefrost.co.uk