Lecture Details and Reviews

Interpreting Wallingford Castle

7th February, 2012 Judy Dewey


Reviewed by Valerie on 8th February, 2012

The February meeting of HAHG welcomed an expert on the history of Wallingford and the founder of Wallingford Museum: Judy Dewey gave a presentation on the work being undertaken at Wallingford Castle.

First of all she gave the basic background to the history of the castle going back to Saxon times and linked in with what has been found during the last 4-5 years research project, now beginning to make sense of the site; publication is planned for later this year. So this was a preview with recourse to geophysical illustration of the castle area, which had revealed some previously unknown elements.

Wallingford was an ancient walled Saxon town with fortifications, being the prime town in Berkshire in the Domesday book. It still retains its Saxon street pattern, as illustrated from an early view where the bridge can be seen on the site of what was a ford

There was a royal garrison in Wallingford Castle at the time of the Norman Conquest, which was ceded to William. There followed the making of a huge mound with motte and over the years three surrounding walls were erected. This became a prestigious castle held by the successive kings, and in 1155 Wallingford received its charter from Henry 11nd.

However, by the time of Henry V111 castles were regarded as unnecessary and Wallingford Castle became redundant. Nevertheless, in the 17th century it was refortified for the Civil War, Wallingford being the southern bulwark of Oxford and a major stronghold which dominated the Thames Valley. Wallingford Castle was never taken during a 12-week siege but afterwards surrendered. Oliver Cromwell decreed that it should be pulled down in 1652 and destroyed completely.

Nowadays what remains is an open grass-covered expanse with a huge mound and this needs interpretation, which was put on it by our speaker. She was warmly thanked for doing so.

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