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 Post subject: Ludgershall Castle
PostPosted: 05 Apr 2013 11:59 am 
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A castle I like, on my regular route from Winchester to Avebury. It stands on the edge of a town called Ludgershall, on the Hampshire / Wiltshire border, a rather dismal place, sorry to say, its only other feature of interest being the remains of a medieval preaching cross in the town centre, but the castle itself, although just a shattered ruin, albeit with extensive earthworks, is well worth a brief stop, should one be passing that way, with commanding views across the surrounding countryside, and a very interesting history.

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There has been a settlement here since Anglo-Saxon times, but the ruins one sees today mostly date from the early 12th century, when the site was occupied by the royal marshall and castle builder, John Fitzgilbert. The site had been in the ownership of King Henry I (reigned 1100-35) prior to this, and then on Fitzgilbert's death, this reverted back to the crown and Henry II (reigned 1154-89), who then passed it on to his youngest son, John (King John, 1199-1216), then Richard I (1189-99) took it over for a while, before it went back into John's control following Richard's death, and later John's son Henry III (reigned 1216-72), who did a lot of refurbishment and additional building. This period was very much the heyday of Ludgershall Castle, by then really more of a fortified manor. Subsequent owners included Anne of Bohemia, Joan of Navarre and Edmund Tudor. The future King Edward III (reigned 1327-77) spent time here as a young boy, and most probably learned to hunt in the surrounding countryside. It eventually fell into dis-use, and has been a ruin since the early 1500s.

Much of the above information was taken from this excellent blog post by the historical fiction author, Elizabeth Chadwick.

http://livingthehistoryelizabethchadwic ... astle.html

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Perhaps the most celebrated event in its history was the night in 1141 when Mathilda, aka the Empress Maud, took refuge here. Mathilda was the daughter of Henry I, and mother of the future Henry II, and had been usurped to the throne by her cousin Stephen (reigned 1135-54), which was the cause of a bloody and protracted civil war, a period of my country's history known as The Anarchy (an era that will be familiar to Ken Follett fans who enjoyed reading "Pillars of the Earth"). Following a defeat by Stephen's army here in Winchester, she escaped via Ludgershall. According to Wiki:

Quote:
... in 1141 the Empress Maud took refuge in Ludgershall Castle as she fled from Stephen's army. She was accompanied by Milo Fitzwalter and escaped disguised as a corpse to Vies (Devizes) and thence to Gloucester. Some 600 years later a seal was found by a ploughman, bearing a knight in armour and holding a lance shield with the inscription "Sigillum Millonis De Glocestria". It is thought Fitzwalter threw away the seal to avoid identification when he escaped as a beggar.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludgershall,_Wiltshire

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Note: The situation was eventually resolved when it was agreed that Stephen would remain King of England until his death, at which point the succession would pass to Mathilda's son, and Henry I's grandson, Henry II. In dynastic history terms, therefore, Stephen's death in 1154 marks the transition from the Norman dynasty (1066-1154) to the Plantagenet / Angevin one (1154-1485), since Henry was the issue of Mathilda and Geoffrey V, Count of Anjou.

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It's a nice place to visit, even if there's not much left of it, and place that witnessed much history, before it became a ruin.

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 Post subject: Re: Ludgershall Castle
PostPosted: 05 Apr 2013 12:50 pm 
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Built with flint by the looks of it.


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 Post subject: Re: Ludgershall Castle
PostPosted: 05 Apr 2013 12:58 pm 
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Perhaps the most celebrated event in its history was the night in 1141 when Mathilda, aka the Empress Maud, took refuge here. Mathilda was the daughter of Henry I, and mother of the future Henry II, and had been usurped to the throne by her cousin Stephen (reigned 1135-54), which was the cause of a bloody and protracted civil war, a period of my country's history known as The Anarchy (an era that will be familiar to Ken Follett fans who enjoyed reading "Pillars of the Earth"). Following a defeat by Stephen's army here in Winchester, she escaped via Ludgershall.

Thanks again Richard. You are lucky to have such fabulous history in your surrounding local. After reading Maud's escape you posted, it got me thinking of how petrified she must have been trying to get to her followers.
Regards
Nic


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 Post subject: Re: Ludgershall Castle
PostPosted: 05 Apr 2013 1:05 pm 
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Sheila wrote:
Built with flint by the looks of it.


Very much used as a building material in these parts, I guess because flint occurs much on chalkland (which this is). We have many walls here that are a mixture of brick and flint, and it still gets used here as a form of construction. The wall bordering a new housing development at the end of my street is being built like this - almost certainly a planning requirement, as it's expensive now, so that things are in keeping with the architectural heritage of the city.

For example, The Kingsgate here in Winchester (as it happens, the scene of much of the fighting between Stephen and Mathilda, referred to above).

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 Post subject: Re: Ludgershall Castle
PostPosted: 05 Apr 2013 1:30 pm 
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viewtopic.php?f=1&t=3382&p=92043&hilit=de+mandeville#p92043


I may have mentioned this man before, but Geoffrey de Mandeville is a fascinating character from the time of Stephen and Maude. A bit of a nasty bit of work, he spent the latter part of his life terrorising the fens up around Peterborough way, before being shot. He was allegedly wrapped in a Templar cloak and taken to the Temple in London where they encassed him in lead and hung him from a tree (I think I have that right) - he was not buried as he'd been harassing church estates and had fallen foul of the church. He was later 'pardoned' and lies in state in the Temple to this day.

He is also related to Eudo Dapifer - who seems to be related to a Rohesia who is the person that Royston seems to be named after (originally Rohesia's Cross erected there) - the place with the very odd cave.

The is also a link from Bernard of Clairvaux to Winchester via the Giffards (William, Bishop of Winchester). An interesting time in English history eh?

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 Post subject: Re: Ludgershall Castle
PostPosted: 05 Apr 2013 4:47 pm 
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Thanks Richard, flint nodules are not something i'm used to seeing at all....must be like building with oddly-shaped marbles. I notice that bricks are needed for any part of the structure that needs definition and that the main archway, window surrounds and the buttresses are made of sterner stuff...sandstone maybe ....recuperated from somewhere else or part of the grand scheme of things?

All very exotic i must say....shame about the lucarnes being bricked in, or is that just my eyesight.


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 Post subject: Re: Ludgershall Castle
PostPosted: 05 Apr 2013 4:53 pm 
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...and i for one had never heard of Mathilde l'Emperesse until today, there are huge gaping holes in my general history when it comes to people.


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 Post subject: Re: Ludgershall Castle
PostPosted: 05 Apr 2013 5:59 pm 
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I vaguely recall doing a bit about Stephen at school - the first 'English' civil war - the first of many to come. Its odd because quite a few people only think of the 'Civil War' as the only one, forgetting the lesser ones such as this, the Baron's rebellion against John, the Wars of the Roses...
Mathilda/Maude always confused me though - why give one person two names? I thought for ages it was two different people.

A very interesting time given that England was only just (re)establishing it's identity - which would take a few centuries culminating in the 100 years war. And throughout all that we had the Crusades and the legacy of the Norman invasion (who I always thought were French) - and the establishment of the St Clares here.

I only got interested in all this trying to find a link between Royston and RLC - and came across Eudo Dapifer (Eudo de Rie) - and from him and Rohesia to Geoffrey de Mandeville and the Giffards.

As for flint, as Richard says, its a very common building material around the South Downs. Large parts of Brighton, ditto Eastbourne, are all old flint buildings - the local castles such as Pevensey - and I think Bramber - Lewes Castle and Priory all seem to have used flint in the construction.

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 Post subject: Re: Ludgershall Castle
PostPosted: 05 Apr 2013 6:07 pm 
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and .... considering her mother was Mathilde d'Écosse (but baptised Édith) who in turn was the daughter of Malcolm III of Scotland and Saint Margaret of Scotland you would think that as a Scottish lass i would have gotten to grips with her in High school but no..... Knossos beckoned and i entered the Hall of Ancient Studies and haven't appeared at the far end yet....thank God.


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 Post subject: Re: Ludgershall Castle
PostPosted: 05 Apr 2013 6:12 pm 
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As for Flint and Chert...we call them Silex and Chaille over here....rather interesting stuff actually, and the jury is still out on a lot of their whys and wherefores.


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 Post subject: Re: Ludgershall Castle
PostPosted: 05 Apr 2013 8:50 pm 
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Sheila wrote:
...and i for one had never heard of Mathilde l'Emperesse until today, there are huge gaping holes in my general history when it comes to people.

:shock:, you totally make up for it with your other knowledge though Sheila. Interesting little period, yet another 'French' claimant and the squabble between her and Stephen was quite a too and fro. Also as jl says
Quote:
Geoffrey de Mandeville is a fascinating character

Regards
Nic


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 Post subject: Re: Ludgershall Castle
PostPosted: 05 Apr 2013 10:36 pm 
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Sheila wrote:
Thanks Richard, flint nodules are not something i'm used to seeing at all....must be like building with oddly-shaped marbles. I notice that bricks are needed for any part of the structure that needs definition and that the main archway, window surrounds and the buttresses are made of sterner stuff...sandstone maybe ....recuperated from somewhere else or part of the grand scheme of things?


Yes, it's a jumble of different phases of construction, the two little arches on either side of the main arch are from as recent a time as the 18th century. The main arch is medieval, 14th century, but after the time of Stephen and Mathilda, although it was one of the main gateways through the city walls at that time, and probably in Roman times as well (when the town was called Venta Belgarum). As you say, sandstone is doing the heavy lifting, so to speak.

Believe it or not, when I first lived here, people still drove through the main archway, but now you just walk through. There's a low wall running through either side of the arch, in line with the buttresses, with a very old timber coping, that is so smooth from centuries of people running their hand along it as they walk through, it feels like a piece of marble.

A couple of other local flint walls.

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Quote:
All very exotic i must say....shame about the lucarnes being bricked in, or is that just my eyesight.


:? You're maybe looking through the crennelations along the top of the wall at the roof of the church that sits on top of the arch, a tiny 13th century church, dedicated to St Swithun, who's buried a stone's throw away, next to the Cathedral.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Swithun ... ate_Church


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 Post subject: Re: Ludgershall Castle
PostPosted: 06 Apr 2013 12:58 am 
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It may (or may not) be of any interest here that Stephen's wife was Mathilda of Boulogne, the niece of Godfrey of Bouillon and the woman who "should" have worn the crown of Jerusalem in her own right. When her uncle Baldwin I of Jerusalem died, Mathilde's father, Eustache III of Boulogne, took his sweet time getting down to Calabria to board a ship to claim his crown; by the time he reached port he'd heard that the knights had proclaimed Baldwin of Le Bourg in his place, as Baldwin II. And it was Baldwin II's daughter and heiress Melusine who married (as his second wife) Fulk of Anjou, the future father-in-law of the Empress Mathilda (or Maud).

TCP


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 Post subject: Re: Ludgershall Castle
PostPosted: 06 Apr 2013 7:31 am 
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You're maybe looking through the crennelations along the top of the wall at the roof of the church that sits on top of the arch, a tiny 13th century church, dedicated to St Swithun, who's buried a stone's throw away, next to the Cathedral.


Thanks Richard, it became glaringly obvious when you pointed that out...my eyes saw what i couldn't for the life of me see before ...duh, Sheila needs to clean her glasses 8)


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 Post subject: Re: Ludgershall Castle
PostPosted: 06 Apr 2013 8:51 am 
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jlockest wrote:
A very interesting time given that England was only just (re)establishing it's identity - which would take a few centuries culminating in the 100 years war. And throughout all that we had the Crusades and the legacy of the Norman invasion (who I always thought were French) ...


Vikings, "north-men", really, but culturally French, and yes, a fascinating time, and all the result of a tragic, drunken attempt to cross the Channel from Barfleur one night in 1120, and the drowning of Henry I's son and heir, William. Ironically, given that Henry had more illegitimate offspring than any king in English history, and try as he might, he was unable to produce another male heir, and hence the succession crisis on his death fifteen years later. One of those "what ifs" of history. Likewise, what if the Holy Roman Emperor (Henry V) hadn't died when he did, leaving Mathilda a widow; what if ... she hadn't married the Count of Anjou, and hadn't been pregnant and confined to Anjou at the time of her father's death; what if ... Stephen had honoured his promise to support her succession in the event of Henry being unable to produce another male heir; what if ... Stephen hadn't acted so decisively in seizing his chance, and the throne ... Amazing how one isolated event begets another, and another, and the whole course of history changes.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Ship


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 Post subject: Re: Ludgershall Castle
PostPosted: 06 Apr 2013 10:16 am 
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TCP wrote:
It may (or may not) be of any interest here that Stephen's wife was Mathilda of Boulogne, the niece of Godfrey of Bouillon and the woman who "should" have worn the crown of Jerusalem in her own right. When her uncle Baldwin I of Jerusalem died, Mathilde's father, Eustache III of Boulogne, took his sweet time getting down to Calabria to board a ship to claim his crown; by the time he reached port he'd heard that the knights had proclaimed Baldwin of Le Bourg in his place, as Baldwin II. And it was Baldwin II's daughter and heiress Melusine who married (as his second wife) Fulk of Anjou, the future father-in-law of the Empress Mathilda (or Maud).

TCP


Interesting and, a bit like my reference to Stephen opportunistically seizing the English crown in the post above, it shows that so much in life is about being in the right place at the right time; or the old adage - "history is made by those who turn up".

A little King Stephen anecdote that I like, and which I think reflects rather well on him. I don't think he was a terrible person at all, actually; a poor monarch, perhaps, but quite humane, for his times, with some decent sides to him. He may be in need of a bit of rehabilitation in terms of the way we view him.

Anyway, towards the latter stages of The Anarchy, in 1147, Mathilda's son, the future Henry II, then a teenage boy of 14, attempted a very ill-advised and foolhardy "invasion" of England on behalf of his mother. This expeditionary force consisted of Henry and a few supporters, and a small group of mercenaries. It was a complete disaster, and after some skirmishes, Henry found himself unable to pay his troops, or even pay his way back to the French mainland. Furthermore, his mother refused to bail him out, on the grounds that she hadn't approved the expedition in the first place, which seems a tad ungrateful, really. Anyway, it was Stephen himself who paid off Henry's men, and paid for Henry to go back home. I can't remember too much more detail than that, which I initially gleaned from a biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine (Henry's future wife), but quite decent of Stephen, and not really reciprocated by Henry, in that he made another ill-fated attempt to invade England a couple of years later, in 1149.

But I've always liked what the story may tell us about Stephen's inner character. And it interests me also because the skirmishing took place in Wiltshire, where I'm from, specifically a village called Chicklade, very close to where I grew up. It's something I'd like to research properly one day, in as much as I'm able, because I think it's an interesting story, that may offer some insight into both men - Henry for his hot-headedness, and Stephen for the decency and magnaminity he displayed to his young rival.


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 Post subject: Re: Ludgershall Castle
PostPosted: 07 Apr 2013 9:35 am 
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A bit more on the Kingsgate Arch, and the tiny church that runs across the top of it.

This is a closer view of the church windows, surrounded by flint walling.

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The church is accessed via this narrow Tudor stairwell.

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And this is the inside:

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And the stained glass in the west window.

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It has an interesting history. From a leaflet inside the church:

Quote:
The church above the gate is first mentioned in 1264 when it is recorded as being burnt by the citizens in the course of a dispute with the Priory, although the gate itself is mentioned in 1148 and provided a way through the city wall between the South and East gates. Kingsgate provided a useful exit from the city for the Bishop and the monks and Prior of St Swithun's Priory, and also the King when he was in Winchester.

From 1266 the history of the church is reasonably well documented. In 1337 the woodwork was overhauled by two carpenters and two sawyers working for four weeks at a total cost of 15 shillings (75 pence in today's money). In 1484 the windows were mended. In the early part of the 17th century the church was delapidated, for it is recorded that the Porter of Kingsgate had lived in the church, that his children had been born there and that his wife "did and doth keep swine at ye end of the Chapell". The church was restored after 1660 [restoration of the monarchy post-Cromwell] and has remained in use ever since. The city maintains the gate, the parish maintains the church.


It also features in Anthony Trollope's novel, The Warden, although he calls it St Cuthberts rather than St Swithuns. This quote is from his novel (Chapter 21):

Quote:
The church is a singular little Gothic building, perched over a gateway, through which the close is entered, and is approached by a flight of stone steps which leads down under the archway of the gate. It is no bigger than an ordinary room - perhaps twenty-seven feet long by eighteen wide - but still it is a perfect church ...


Back down in the archway, underneath the church, you can see the Tudor beams stretching across it. The little shop sells antique prints and books.

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 Post subject: Re: Ludgershall Castle
PostPosted: 07 Apr 2013 10:06 am 
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Further to the above, a little more on the inconsequential but nevertheless interesting subject of flint walling (and with a connection back to Ludgershall Castle at the top of the page).

This is part of the old city walls, mostly made from flint. Lovely wall, walk by this most days.

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And on the other side of this wall is Wolvesey Castle, which I went into yesterday, as it was such a beautiful, cold, crisp winter's day (like early January, but with daffodils and crocuses, such a weird spring!). It's a very beguiling ruin (open April to Sept, and free).

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Built by the Bishop of Winchester, Henry of Blois, between 1130 and 1140, a very powerful individual of his day. Getting back to Stephen and Mathilda, it was the site of a battle known as the Rout of Winchester in 1141, at the height of The Anarchy, following which Mathilda escaped to Gloucester - via Ludgershall.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rout_of_Winchester

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Other notable events there include the wedding breakfast of Mary I and Philip of Spain. Their marriage was the last Royal wedding in our Cathedral (1554). The castle got smashed to pieces in the Civil War in the 1640s, like much else here (the city was very fiercely contested, and changed hands a couple of times).

But it still has many vestiges of its flint walling left, and examples of brick and tile detailing.

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