The remains of Wallingford Castle, once an important royal castle and defensive stronghold, are situated in Wallingford in the English county of Oxfordshire (historically in Berkshire until 1974 reorganization), adjacent to the River Thames.
Wallingford Castle is generally thought to have been built by Robert D’Oyly between 1067 and 1071 on orders from William the Conqueror, to the Norman motte and bailey design, though it has been suggested that Miles Crispin may have founded it. It was strengthened by Brien FitzCount before the wars between King Stephen and Empress Matilda, and Stephen’s forces attacked it many times before he was in turn attacked by the soon-to-be King Henry II. FitzCount established a prison within the castle, called Cloere Brien.
It was described as “most securely fortified by impregnable walls”. Ealdred of Abingdon, Edward I, Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall, Maurice de Berkeley, Waleran de Beaumont, Henry of Almain, Walter Langton, Robert de Ferrers, Owen Tudor, Margaret of Anjou, Charles of Orléans, Sir Richard Browne, John Clotworthy and Judge David Jenkins were all imprisoned here.
King John added further to the castle, and Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall spent substantial sums on it: during the 13th century it gained two further walls and ditches. William, Count of Poitiers died at the castle in 1156, as did Joan of Kent died at the castle in 1387. Catherine of Valois, widow of Henry V, was given the castle and here her relationship with Owen Tudor developed. The castle contained St Nicholas’s College, established by Miles Crispin. The college trained choirboys, including the poet Thomas Tusser.
The castle fell into decline in the 16th century, but in the 17th century, it was strengthened again for supporters of Charles I during the war with Oliver Cromwell. It was the last English stronghold to surrender during the English Civil War, following the surrender of Thomas Blagge (1646) after a siege conducted by Thomas Fairfax and Cromwell later ordered it to be destroyed (1652). The site was a meeting-place for nonconformists later in that century.
A large gothic house was built on the site in 1837 but demolished in 1972. The castle grounds (including the remains of St Nicholas College, two sections of the castle wall and the motte hill) are now open to the public, and more information can be found at Wallingford Museum.
Maurice De Berkeley 1281-1326