Conisbrough, South Yorkshire
Castle Hill, Conisbrough, Doncaster
Conisbrough Castle is a twelfth century castle that is located in Conisbrough near Doncaster in South Yorkshire. Its circular keep, that measures some ninety seven feet high, is supported by six huge buttresses that give it a very unsual look and that dominates the surrounding countryside.
The castle has easy access and is a short walk from the town where there is parking provided.
The castle itself is dominated by the keep, which is by far the most interesting and best preserved feature of this castle, and for this is worth the visit.
~ History ~
1000-04 ~ The lands of Kyningesburg are granted by Wulfric Spott, one of the ministers of King Edward, to Eltheim, another Saxon nobleman.
1066 ~ King Harold II loses his estates of Kyningesburg, along with the rest of England, to William the Conqueror.
1069 ~ The Great Northern Rising by Saxon Earls against their Norman rulers is put-down by King William. As a result, the lands of the north of England are parcelled up and given by the King to his loyal followers to secure its lands and borders. William de Warenne becomes the first Earl of Conisbrough
1075 ~ Whilst he is the joint Chief Justiciar to the King, William and his wife Gundrada, daughter of King William I, visit the monastery of Cluny during a pilgrimage to Rome.
1079 ~ William establishes the first Cluniac monastery in England at Lewes.
1085 ~ William's wife Gundrada dies in childbirth at Castle Acre in Norfolk, in May of that year, she is buried in the Cluniac Abbey of St. Pancras in Lewes.
1088 ~ William is created Earl of Surrey, making him one of the wealthiest men in England by King William II.
William dies from wounds received at the siege of Pevensey Castle. He is buried next to his wife at St. Pancras Abbey. He is succeeded by his son, also named William.
1101 ~ William joins with the King Henry I's brother Robert Curthose in an unsuccessful invasion of England. Robert claims the crown, but the English barons support Henry. Two years later William is pardoned by King Henry I.
1106 ~ William distinguishes himself at the battle of Tenchebrai during Henry I conquest of Normandy against Robert Curthose.
1118 ~William marries Isabel, widow of Robert de Beaumont, count of Meulun. The following year he is again back on the battlefield for his King, at the battle of Brémule with Walter Gifford and Roger fitz Richard against King Louis VI of France.
1138 ~ William, the second Earl Warenne dies. His son, again also named William succeedes his father to become the third Earl.
1141 ~ William de Warenne fights at the battle of Lincoln in February of that year, when King Stephen is captured by supporters of the Empress Matilda.
1146 ~ William joins his step brother Waleran, count of Meulun to take part in the Second Crusade. The following year he is killed by the Turks near Laodicea in what is now Syria, leaving no male heir, having only a daughter, Isabel.
1148 ~ The de Warenne heiress Isabel is married to William de Blois, the younger son of King Stephen, there by becoming the fourth Earl Warenne.
1159 ~ The fourth Earl William dies without any children to inherit his estates and titles.
1163 ~ King Henry II arranges another marriage for the widowed Isabel, to his illegitimate half brother Hamelin Plantagenet, son of Geoffrey of Anjou.
1180 ~ Hamelin orders the building of stone castles at Conisbrough and Sandal.
1199 ~Hamelin and his wife attend the coronation of his nephew King John. The following year he travels with the King to Lincoln, to witness the King of Scotland's oath of homage.
1201 ~ King John visits the new castle at Conisbrough, granting a market charter for the town during his visit.
1202 ~ Hamelin dies and is buried at Lewes Priory. His son William becomes the sixth Earl Warenne. Isabel dies the following year and is buried next to her husband Hamelin.
1204 ~ Earl William losses his Norman lands following their conquest by Philip Augustus, the King of France. By way of compensation, William is granted lands at Grantham and Stamford in Lincolnshire by King John.
1215 ~ William is one of the few nobles still loyal to King John, as one of his councillors by whose advice the King issued Magna Carta. William is one of only four barons named in the document as standing with the King at the signing of the charter at Runnymede.
1216 ~ William is appointed Warden of the Cinque Ports, but soon after deserts King John in favour of Louis of France.
1217 ~ William de Warenne swears unquestioned support to the young King Henry III.
1225 ~ William marries Matilda, daughter and co-heiress of William the Marshall Earl of Pembroke.
1239 ~ William, the sixth Earl Warenne dies and is succeeded by his son John, aged just 8 years of age. His estates are held during his minority by his mother, Matlida.
1247 ~ Earl John marries Alice de Lusignan, half sister to King Henry III.
1256 ~ Alice dies but not before giving John a son, William, and two daughters.
1258 ~ John de Warenne supports King Henry III in his quarrel with the barons led by Simon de Montfort. John is angered firstly by the Provisions of Oxford and then by the truce made with Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, Prince of Wales.
1261 ~ John transfers his allegiance to the rebel Simon de Montfort.
1263 ~ John changes sides again giving his support to King Henry III and Prince Edward at the siege of Rochester Castle.
1265 ~ John returns to England and joins Prince Edward before the battle of Evesham and the death of Simon de Montfort.
1268 ~ John de Warenne receives a pardon from the King.
1270 ~ John is rebuked by Walter Giffard, Archbishop of York, for the severity of his exactions upon his Yorkshire Tenants with the building work at Conisbrough and Sandal castles.
1282-84 ~ John takes a leading role in the campaigns leading to the conquest of Wales. He is rewarded with the border lordships of Bromfield and Yale. The building of Holt castle near Chester begins.
1285 ~ John de Warenne takes a prominent part at the negotiating table in the attempted conquest of Scotland.
1286 ~ John's only son William is ambushed and killed at a tournament held at Croydon.
1297 ~ John loses the Battle of Stirling Bridge to the Scottish rebel leader, William Wallace.
1298 ~ John returns to Scotland and is successful in beating William Wallace and the Scots army at the Battle of Falkirk.
1300 ~ Earl John lays siege and retakes Caerlaverock Castle.
1304 ~ John, the seventh Earl de Warenne dies in his London home and is buried at Lewes Priory. He is succeeded by his grandson, also named John, to become eighth Earl Warenne.
1306 ~ The young Earl enters into full occupation of his lands and is given in marriage to King Edward I's ten year old granddaughter Joan de Barr.
1312 ~ John is instrumental in the capture of King Edward II's lover and favourite, Piers Gaveston at Scarborough Castle. The subsequent execution at the hands of the Earls of Warwick, Lancaster, Hereford and Arundel, incense the Earl of Surrey and so he makes his peace with King Edward II.
1313 ~ John separates from his wife to live in adultery with Maude de Nerford, a gentleman's daughter from a village near Castle Acre in Norfolk. John begins a series of efforts to obtain a divorce from Joan.
1316 ~ After many unsuccessful attempts it seemed that divorce would be allowed, but once again judgement goes against him. Earl John is also excommunicated for adultery and for openly maintaining a mistress.
1317 ~ John de Warenne unwisely becomes involved in the marital affairs of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster. John helps Lancaster's wife Alice to elope from her husband. Enraged, Lancaster seizes Conisbrough and Sandal castles. The following year Lancaster captures de Warenne's lands of Bromfield and Yale.
1322 ~ Lancaster leads the rebellion of the Northern Barons and is captured at the battle of Boroughbridge and held captive at his own castle at Pontefract. One of those presiding over Lancaster's trial for treason is non other than John de Warenne. Lancaster is found guilty and executed outside the walls of his own castle at Pontefract.
1326 ~ As a reward for his support of Edward II against Queen Isabella and Roger Mortimer, John regains his lands, but the King only grants him the use of them during the Earl's lifetime, after which they would revert back to the Crown.
1327 ~ John loses his lands of Sandal and Conisbrough yet again to the Crown.
1334 ~ John regains his Yorkshire holdings.
1336 ~ John is made Earl of Strathearn by the Baliol king of Scotland as a reward for his help.
1347 ~ John, the eighth and last Earl de Warenne dies leaving no legitimate heirs. His estates and the Earldom of Surrey revert back to the Crown. King Edward III grants Conisborough to his youngest son Edmund on Langley, but as he is still a child, the estates are managed by his mother, Queen Philippa. During this time the domestic buildings are remodelled. Edmund is later made Earl of Cambridge and his nephew King Richard II later still makes him Duke of York.
1415 ~ Edmund's two sons are killed, one at the Battle of Agincourt and the other executed for treason.
1461 ~ King Edward IV takes the throne of England and with it the estates of Conisbrough Castle, which by this time are neglected and in need of repairs.
1483 ~ Repairs to the castle are completed.
King Henry VIII grants the castle to the Carey family.
1538 ~ The castle is reported to be in a poor state, the gates and bridge having long collapsed, along with the top floor of the keep and most of the curtain wall on the south side. The castle sees no further military action as its decay continue over the following centuries.