Carisbrooke Castle

Carisbrooke Castle, Isle of Wight


Castle Hill, Newport


Off B3401


PO30 1XY

There has been a fortess at Carisbrooke since before the Norman Conquest, but the present castle with its massive earthworks and keep date back to 1100's.

Today the castle is a beautiful place to wander round and view the grounds.

~ History ~

600's ~ Carisbrooke hill is used as a pagan cemetary.

998 ~ Vikings start their periodic occupation of the site as a base to attack the south coast of England. This in turn leads to the fortification of the siteby the kingdom of Wessex against the raiding vikings.

1066 ~ Following William the Conquerer's victory against the Saxons at the Battle of Hastings, to secure the channel the Isle of Wight is granted to his cousin, William FitzOsbern, who soon builds an early timber castle on the hill using the existing Saxon fortifactions.

1086 ~ The Domesday survey records the castle at Carisbrooke, inside the Saxon fort, with deep ditches and a bailey.

1071 ~ Following the death of FitzOsbern in Battle, his son enherits the castle, but soon loses it after rebelling against King William four years later.

1100 ~ Henry I becomes King of England following the suspicious death of his brother William Rufus whilst out hunting and inspite of his elder brother, Robert's claim to the throne. Henry needs to bolster his defences along the south coast of his new realm, especially against his brother, Robert Duke of Normandy. This includes Carisbrooke Castle.

1106 ~ King Henry defeats his elder brother and becomes Duke of Normandy as well as King of England. He grants Carisbrooke to Richard de Redvers, one of his closest supports during his succession to the throne.

1107 ~ Richard dies and is succeeded by his son Baldwin, who modernises the castle replacing the timber defences with stone.

1136 ~ The castle is recorded as being completely rebuilt in stone. King Henry's death the previous year leaves the throne to the Kings daughter Matilda in dispute with her cousin Stephen. Baldwin support's Matilda's claim to the throne during the ensuing civil war.

He is forced to surrender the castle when the castle well and only source of water for the garrison fails. He does not regain his castle until 1153.

1262 ~ Isabella de Fortibus, aged just 26 years and already one of the greatest landowners in the Kingdom, inherits Carisbrooke Castle upon the death of her brother Baldwin de Redvers from poisoning.

1293 ~ The castle is sold to Kind Edward I upon Isabella's death.

1336 ~ During the Hundres years war with France, the Isle of Wight and Carisbrooke castle were on the front-line, with French raiding teh island five times between 1336 & 1370. Drum towers are added to the main gatehouse.

1355 ~ King Edward III grants the castle to his daughter Isabel, who marries Ingram de Couci, who later sides with the French who later attempt and invasion of the island. In turn he is later forced to surrender his English estates to King Richard II.

1377 ~ The French land in strength on the north coast of the island, destroying the town of Yarmouth and laying siege to Carisbrooke. The French commander is killed by bowman Peter de Heynoe with a single shot, so bringing the siege to an end, with 1000 marks paid to ensure they left. They did however continue to return and raid for a further hundred years.

1450 ~ The inhabitants if the island petition King Henry VI to take make repairs to the castle which had fallen into disrepair and lacked any garrison or military supplies.

1460's ~ Lord Athony Woodville, brother-in-law to King Edward IV spent money on the castle making repairs.

1500's ~ King Henry VIII's change of strategy to the building of coastal forts made the castle less important.

1588 ~ The spanish target Carisbrooke and the island as part of their failed armada invasion plans, and again in 1596 & 1597.

SIr George Carey, cousin to Queen Elizabeth I refortified Carisbrooke and the coastal forts of the island, as well as funding raids against the Spanish as far as the Caribbean.

1647 ~ King Charles I escapes Hampton Court Palace where he had been held, arriving at Carisbrooke seeking protection from Colonel Robert Hammond, but instead of helping him, imprisons him.

1648 ~ 20th March, King Charles attempts his escape by climbing out of the window of his bedchamber, next to the curtain wall, which fails. A second attempt eight days later is aborted after he is betrayed. He is moved in September to commence negotiations with Parliament which also fail. He is executed the following year.

1650 ~ The castle continues to be used as a prison with teo of King Charles children, Princess Elizabeth and Prince Henry. Elizabeth dies within a few weeks of imprisonment, from a chill. Henry is allowed to leave three years later, aged 13, to join his family in exile in France. Other Royalists are imprisoned in the castle, but upon King Charles II restoration, it is Parliamentary supporters imprisoned at Carisbrooke.

Thereafter the importance of Carisbrooke Castle further declined.