Power And Protection: Castles And Fortified Manor Houses Of Medieval Britain - Volume 3 - Central En
Towards the end of the Middle Ages, castles tended to lose their military significance due to the advent of powerful cannons and permanent artillery fortifications; as a result, castles became more important as residences and statements of power. A castle could act as a stronghold and prison but was also a place where a knight or lord could entertain his peers. Over time the aesthetics of the design became more important, as the castle's appearance and size began to reflect the prestige and power of its occupant. Comfortable homes were often fashioned within their fortified walls. Although castles still provided protection from low levels of violence in later periods, eventually they were succeeded by country houses as high status residences.
Power and Protection: Castles and Fortified Manor Houses of Medieval Britain - Volume 3 - Central En
Some true castles were built in the Americas by the Spanish and French colonies. The first stage of Spanish fort construction has been termed the "castle period", which lasted from 1492 until the end of the 16th century. Starting with Fortaleza Ozama, "these castles were essentially European medieval castles transposed to America". Among other defensive structures (including forts and citadels), castles were also built in New France towards the end of the 17th century. In Montreal the artillery was not as developed as on the battle-fields of Europe, some of the region's outlying forts were built like the fortified manor houses of France. Fort Longueuil, built from 1695 to 1698 by a baronial family, has been described as "the most medieval-looking fort built in Canada". The manor house and stables were within a fortified bailey, with a tall round turret in each corner. The "most substantial castle-like fort" near Montréal was Fort Senneville, built in 1692 with square towers connected by thick stone walls, as well as a fortified windmill. Stone forts such as these served as defensive residences, as well as imposing structures to prevent Iroquois incursions.
The positioning of castles was influenced by the available terrain. Whereas hill castles such as Marksburg were common in Germany, where 66 per cent of all known medieval were highland area while 34 per cent were on low-lying land, they formed a minority of sites in England. Because of the range of functions they had to fulfil, castles were built in a variety of locations. Multiple factors were considered when choosing a site, balancing between the need for a defendable position with other considerations such as proximity to resources. For instance many castles are located near Roman roads, which remained important transport routes in the Middle Ages, or could lead to the alteration or creation of new road systems in the area. Where available it was common to exploit pre-existing defences such as building with a Roman fort or the ramparts of an Iron Age hillfort. A prominent site that overlooked the surrounding area and offered some natural defences may also have been chosen because its visibility made it a symbol of power. Urban castles were particularly important in controlling centres of population and production, especially with an invading force, for instance in the aftermath of the Norman Conquest of England in the 11th century the majority of royal castles were built in or near towns.
Although not typically built with strong fortifications as were castles, many manor-houses were fortified, which required a royal licence to crenellate. They were often enclosed within walls or ditches which often also included agricultural buildings. Arranged for defence against roaming bands of robbers and thieves, in days long before police, they were often surrounded by a moat with a drawbridge, and were equipped with gatehouses and watchtowers, but not, as for castles, with a keep, large towers or lofty curtain walls designed to withstand a siege. The primary feature of the manor house was its great hall, to which subsidiary apartments were added as the lessening of feudal warfare permitted more peaceful domestic life.
Many of the earlier houses are the legacy of the feudal heerlijkheid system. The Dutch had a manorial system centred on the local lord's demesne. In Middle Dutch this was called the vroonhof or vroenhoeve, a word derived from the Proto-Germanic word fraujaz, meaning "lord". This was also called a hof and the lord's house a hofstede. Other terms were used, including landhuis (or just huis), a ridderhofstad (Utrecht), a stins or state (Friesland), or a havezate (Drente, Overijssel and Gelderland). Some of these buildings were fortified. A number of castles associated with the nobility are found in the country. In Dutch, a building like this was called a kasteel, a slot, a burcht or (in Groningen) a borg.
Medieval castles were built from the 11th century CE for rulers to demonstrate their wealth and power to the local populace, to provide a place of defence and safe retreat in the case of attack, defend strategically important sites like river crossings, passages through hills, mountains and frontiers, and as a place of residence. Whether a permanent home for a local lord or a temporary one for a ruler embarking on a tour of their kingdom, castles were converted from wood into stone and became ever more impressive structures with more and more defensive features such as round towers and fortified gates.
In the next stage of development, an outer wall was built of stone on top of the motte and then known as a shell keep. Finally, in the 12th century CE, the outer wall and main central tower also came to be built of stone, but not usually on the motte itself as that was not stable enough to use as a foundation for such a heavy structure. Indeed, entirely new locations might be preferred or required, and the foundation of choice was bedrock which prevented any undermining by an attacking force. The keep became a staple feature of castles, although they were called a donjon (from the French word meaning 'lord') prior to the 16th century CE. Usually with three or more stories (tower keeps); some were lower and are called hall keeps. The keep was the heart of the medieval castle and the last point of refuge in case of attack or siege. Before they got to the keep, though, attackers had to negotiate a long list of defensive features.
Planning a visit? You can now stay at Hever Castle, or arrange for a private tour including travel from London.Hurst Castle, Lymington, HampshireOwned by: English HeritageIntact Tudor coastal artillery castle. Built by Henry VIII as part of a chain of defences to protect England's coast from foreign invasion, following Henry's decision to break from the Catholic Church. The circular stone tower strengthened by semi-circular bastions was completed by the end of 1544 to guard the narrow entrance to the Solent and the approaches to Southampton. Restricted opening times and entrance charges apply.Hylton Castle, Hylton Dene, NorthumberlandOwned by: English HeritageRemains of gatehouse-tower of medieval castle. Originally constructed from wood by the Hylton (Hilton) family shortly after the Norman Conquest of 1066, this fortified manor house was rebuilt in stone around 1400. The castle remained the principal seat of the Hylton family until the death of the last baron in 1746. The only remaining part of the castle is the gatehouse tower, which is richly decorated with coats of arms and other heraldic devices. Free open access at any reasonable time.Kendal Castle, Kendal, CumbriaOwned by: Scheduled Ancient MonumentRuins of an early 13th century castle. Built around 1200 as the home of the barons of Kendal, the castle later became home to Parr family. Although the Parrs occupied Kendal for four centuries, the family had long since deserted the castle by the time Catherine Parr, the sixth and final queen of Henry VIII, was born. The building was already a ruin in Tudor times; however some imposing stonework still remains. Free open access at any reasonable time.Kenilworth Castle, Kenilworth, WarwickshireOwned by: English HeritageRuined remains of a medieval castle / palace fortress. Perhaps best known as the home of Robert Dudley, the love of Queen Elizabeth I, who in 1575 created this semi-royal palace in order to impress his Queen. Kenilworth was actually founded around 1120 by Geoffrey de Clinton, Chamberlain to Henry I, who constructed the strong central keep. By damming and diverting local streams, huge water defences were added. In the centuries that followed, vast sums of money were spent to transform the medieval castle into a palace fortress. In 1649, Kenilworth was partly destroyed and the moat drained by Parliamentary forces to prevent it being used as a military stronghold again. Restricted opening times and entrance charges apply.Kimbolton Castle, Kimbolton, CambridgeshireOwned by: Kimbolton SchoolMedieval castle converted into 18th century palace. Although parts of the original Tudor manor house can still be seen, the majority of the castle was built between 1690 and 1720. The most famous resident was Katherine of Aragon who was detained here after her divorce from Henry VIII. Today the castle houses Kimbolton School, and has a limited number of public opening dates.Kinnersley Castle, Kinnersley, HerefordshireOwned by: Caius & Kate HawkinsIntact Tudor manor house and family home. Originally built during the reign of Henry I between 1100 and 1135, the Tudor manor house that now occupies the site was home to the powerful Vaughan family. It was Roger Vaughan who rebuilt the Norman castle between 1585 and 1601. The castle is open for guided tours on certain days during the summer months.Kirby Muxloe Castle, Kirby Muxloe, LeicestershireOwned by: English HeritageRemains of a moated 15th century mansion. The remains of this moated 15th century castle were left unfinished when its owner was executed for treason. The owner was William, 1st Baron Hastings, who began building the castle in 1480 during the Wars of the Roses. Building work stopped abruptly in 1483 when William was executed for treason by Richard III and it was never completed. Parts of the castle were occupied by remaining members of the Hastings family, but by the 16th century the site lay in ruin. Restricted opening times and entrance charges apply.Kirkoswald Castle, CumbriaScheduled Ancient MonumentIn 1210 King John granted permission to Hugh de Morvile to fortify his manor house at Kirkoswald. The resulting castle was all but destroyed by the Scots in 1314 led by Robert the Bruce, but was rebuilt just 3 years later. Completely remodelled and extended during the late 15th century, the site extended to 3-acres surrounded by a massive curtain wall, complete with drawbridge and moat. Although the castle was partially dismantled during 17th century, the northern tower still stands some 20 metres tall enclosed by the moat. The castle is now in a ruined and dangerous state, and is best viewed from the safety of the public footpath that runs adjacent to the site.Kirtling Tower, Kirtling, CambridgeshireOwned by: Lord & Lady FairhavenMedieval castle and Tudor Gatehouse. The gatehouse is all that remains of the once sprawling Kirtling Hall, a converted castle set in the Cambridgeshire countryside. The history of the original castle dates back to 1219, and over the centuries numerous additions were added. By the mid 17th century the castle had become the largest country house in the county, although this wasn't to last. By 1735 the castle had fallen into decline. The surviving gatehouse is surrounded by a moat, formal gardens and parkland. Restricted opening times and admission fees apply.Knaresborough Castle, North YorkshireOwned by: Duchy of LancasterRemains of medieval fortress. Strategically set at the top of a large cliff offering commanding views of the River Nidd, the first castle was erected shortly after the Norman Conquest of England. This was later reinforced by King Henry I, and following the murder of Thomas Becket in 1170, Hugh de Moreville and his fellow assassins took refuge in his Knaresborough Castle. Viewed as an important northern fortress by English royalty King John, Edward I and Edward II all lavished funds on strengthening and improving its defences. Like most other castles across the country, Knaresborough met its end following the Civil War, when in 1648 it was blown up, or slighted, on the orders of Parliament to prevent any future use as a military structure. Restricted opening times and entrance charges apply.Lancaster Castle, Lancaster, LancashireOwned by: Lancashire County CouncilIntact medieval castle and former prison. Occupying the site of a former Roman fort overlooking a crossing of the River Lune, a wooden Saxon fort was demolished in order to make way for this Norman castle, built around 1088 by Roger de Poitou. In 1322, and again in 1389, invading Scots attacked and burned Lancaster, damaging but not taking the castle. The castle did not see military action again until the English Civil War when it changed hands several times before being slighted. Parts of the castle used for the gaol and courts were spared. Still used as a Crown Court, guided tours of the building take place on a daily basis. Admission fees apply.Launceston Castle, Launceston, CornwallOwned by: English HeritageRuins of an early 13th century castle. Set on a large natural mound controlling the strategic crossing of the River Tamar, a wooden motte and bailey castle was erected shortly after the Norman Conquest, possibly as early as 1067. During the 13th century, Richard Earl of Cornwall, younger brother of Henry III began to rebuild the castle in stone. The castle was used for many years as an assizes and gaol. Restricted opening times and entrance charges apply.Leeds Castle, Maidstone, KentOwned by: Leeds Castle FoundationOne of the most beautifully intact medieval castles in England, Leeds dates back to 1119 when it was built as a Norman stronghold. It was in 1278 however when the castle became the property of King Edward I, that it saw significant investment. As his favoured residence, Edward greatly enhanced its defences and created the lake which surrounds the castle. Henry VIII was also a great fan of Leeds, and made many Tudor additions. Guests at the Stable Courtyard have 900 years of history and 500 acres of beautiful parkland on their doorstep. There are 16 bright, traditional bedrooms each with a Freeview TV, free Wi-Fi, and a full private bathroom.