Huntington Castle, Herefordshire
5 miles west of Kington
Off the A4594
Huntington Castle is one of two in the hamlet, the other being nearby Turret Castle built in the 11th century. Huntington is surrounded in all sides by the Welsh border, with the exception to the north-east.
This motte and bailey castle is now very overgrown and is not an easy one to get to, through brambles and thick undergrowth. The best place to park is at the village hall and literally head for a gap in the trees near the road and head up to the top of the motte. A lovely if not very overgrown little ruin.
~ History ~
1070 ~ Earl William fitz Osbern crosses the Welsh border with his Norman army to invade, defeating the native Welsh rulers after bitter campaign. He establishes several castles up and down his borders between Wigmore Castle in the north and Chepstow Castle in the south. Turret Castle is on of these smaller motte and bailet castles built. Later that same year Earl William takes 10 of his best retainers to Flanders, where he fights at the Battle at Cassel, and there he dies how he had lived, by the sword.
William is succeeded in England by his second son, Earl Roger Breteuil of Hereford. Roger however fails to receive either the same royal favour of his father.
1075 ~ At Easter Earl Roger joins his new brother-in-law, Earl Ralph of Norfolk, in rebellion. The uprising is soon crushed by Archbishop Lanfranc of Canterbury. Roger is tried for his crimes and imprisoned. The earldom of Hereford consequently reverts to the Crown. King William the Conqueror, after a suitable interval of time, begins to repent of the imprisonment of his relation who is also the son of his best friend, Earl William. In an attempt to restore friendly relations he sends him a gift of fine new robes, but Earl Roger in his prison calls the guards together and burns the gifts in defiance of the king. The king on hearing of this insult swears in his wrath that Earl Roger will rot in his prison. King William keeps his promise.
1087 ~ Upon King William the Conqueror's deathbed he orders the release of the aging Earl Roger.
King William Rufus grants Turret Castle to to Adam Port as part of the barony of Kington.
1217 ~ Earl Reginald Braose undertakes the building of several castles including Huntington Castle, which replaces neaby Kington Castle which had been destroyed by the Welsh the previous year,
1228 ~ King Henry III orders that the new castle of Huntington is seized on the death of Reginald Braose. Reginald's son William Braose, is captured by Prince Llywelyn Fawr in the mountains of the commote of Ceri.
The castle is again taken over by the Crown when William, who had since his capture established friendly relations with Llywelyn, is captured in a compromising position in Princess Joan's bedchamber at Llywelyn's court! Apparently William had been plotting with Llywelyn's wife to assassinate the prince and seize the Principality of Wales for himself. Llywelyn was however warned of the plot by Earl Hubert Burgh the leader of the English government, who had a personal grudge against the Braose family. In his outrage Llywelyn has Braose tried by a jury of his barons where he is found guilty of adultery with the prince's wife, and therefore treason. William is taken to a tree at Llywelyn's manor of Crogen, and there hung by the neck until dead. Many of the Braose family enemies come to see the end of the last Braose lord of Brecon and Huntington Castle.
The barony of Kington with Huntington Castle pass to the Bohuns as part of their share of the forfeited Braose estates.
1231 ~ Prince Llywelyn invades the Braose estates on the Welsh border, with continued raids for the next three years. Huntington Castle however remains beyong the prince's reach.
1244 ~ Following the death of Llywelyn four years earlier, his son Dafydd continues his fathers fight culminating in the defeat of the armies of Ralph Mortimer and Humphrey Bohun in his attempt to regain the land and castles. Although Dafydd won his battles in the Middle March he fails to take Huntington Castle.
1254 ~ Roger Mortimer succeedes his father Ralph and is assigned lands in Brecon Barony as part of the Braose settlement, although the Bohun's successfully stalls from actually giving him anything.
1256 ~ War again comes to Wales when Prince Llywelyn ap Gruffydd and his brother Dafydd invade the Marches of Wales and annex them to the principality of Gwynedd. War generally favours Prince Llywelyn for the next six years of raids and counter raids, culminating in a convincingly defeat of Roger Mortimer and so seizes much of Radnorshire and Breconshire from the Marchers Lords.
1263 ~ The Marchers Lords counter-attack and defeat the Princes of Deheubarth at the battle of Abergavenny. At this point the Lord Edward, later to be King Edward I, arrives with an army from Gascony and transfers to Roger Mortimer the castles of Brecon, Huntington and Hay on Wye, which Mortimer claims against the Bohuns.
Two months later Humphrey Bohun Junior, the disenfranchised lord of Brecon, is amongst those who raise the standard of rebellion against King Henry III and his son and heir, the Lord Edward. And so begins The Barons' War.
1264 ~ Earl Simon Montfort appears before the walls of Hay on Wye Castle and forces its Mortimer garrison to surrender. Huntington Castle is also besieged, but does not surrender before Roger Mortimer himself is surrounded at Montgomery Castle and is forced to surrender at the end of August. The Mortimer garrison in Huntington Castle remain true to their lord's cause despite the many defeats suffered by Mortimer. They keep De Montford's army from occupying the castle until August when Roger Mortimer commands a third of the Marcher army, which under the Lord Edward, defeats and kills Earl Simon Montfort at the battle of Evesham.
After Evesham Roger Mortimer takes back Hay on Wye Castle back and uses this and Huntington Castle as a base for regaining Brecon Castle from Prince Llywelyn, who had taken the castle the previous year.
1266 ~ Roger Mortimer's army is all but annihilated just short of Brecon. This disaster was followed by another Civil War with Roger marching against the Earl of Gloucester who has seized London town for the Barons. As the royal army approach a novel plan is put before King Henry III. Burn London to the ground by sending small birds with burning twigs tied to the feet over the town walls! Thankfully more humane methods prevail and a truce leads to final peace which included Roger Mortimer returning Huntington and Hay on Wye Castles back to the Bohuns as part of a general peace settlement.
The young Humphrey Bohun receives Huntington Castle back and immediately begins planning the reconquest of Breconshire from Prince Llywelyn. Huntington Castle is used as his base for this operation. With this Huntington Castle ceases to be a major fortress, but finds a new lease of life as a baronial centre for the governing of the lordship of Kington.
1370's ~ The old fortress is re-mortared and re-roofed.
1372 ~ The male line of the de Bohuns fails, and their heiress marries Henry, Earl of Derby, son of John of Gaunt.
1399 ~ Henry successed to the English throne as King Henry IV, and this with the Earldom of Hereford passes to Edward Stafford, Earl of Buckingham.
1402 ~ Owain Glyndwr's Welsh forces defeat a Mortimer army at Pilleth and once more Huntington Castle is put on a war footing and the keep and other buildings re-roofed again. The castle successfully repells repeated Welsh attacks, but the lordship and many mills are wasted by the rebels.
1403 ~ Edward Stafford is killed at the Battle of Shrewsbury. Later the same year his widow refortifies the castle against the Welsh.
As the Welsh threat deminishes the castle is allowed to fall into decay, although the keep continues to be used as a prison for the next two hundred years.
1642 ~ With the start of the English Civil War the castle is totally ruinous and all fighting passes it by.