Ludgershall Castle

Ludgershall Castle, Hampshire

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Location

Castle Street, Ludgershall, Andover

Road

A342

SatNav

SP11 9QT

Ludgershall Castle is built on an ancient site dating back more than a thousand years to a small iron age fort.

Today the ruined walls and tower are set in manicured lawns surrounded by earthworths where close by there is a small visitors car park.


~ History ~


1015 ~ A Saxon settlement at Ludgershall is bequeathed by Royal Will to Godwine the driveller.


1081 ~ Edward of Salisbury is appointed Sheriff of Wiltshire. He sets about the building of a stone castle on the strategically important trading route between Marlborough and Winchester, the capital of Wessex. The Iron Age earthworks are used as part of the castle's defences.


1100 ~ Following the death of Edward, Ludgershall becomes royal property. King Henry I appoints John the Marshal as its custodian, on behalf of the king. He fortifies the castle adding the enclosure to the north, which contains the most important buildings, largely constructed in stone. The southern bailey contains timber buildings including the castle farm, stables and kitchens.


1139 ~ During the Anarchy of civil war between King Stephen and Empress Matilda, Ludgershall's custodian John FitzGilbert, switches his allegiance to Matilda. His fights at her side at the Rout of Winchester which see's him playing a key role protecting her retreat. 

Following this defeat the Empress is so exhausted she is carried in a litter, prompting her enemies to spread word that she had travelled in a coffin.


1210 ~ King John repairs and improves the castle, bringing the buildings up to date as a residence, to take advantage of the nearby hunting forests.


1234 ~ King Henry III who inherits the castle and his love of hunting from his father, King John, visits the castle at least 21 times, making many additions and improvements to the castle between over the next seventeen years, transforming it into a lavish residence. This includes a new great hall for dining and entertaining with royal apartments.


1317 ~ Ludgershall is referred to as ‘the king’s manor’, and is given to successive queens and royal dependants, including Queen Philippa, wife of King Edward III, and her daughter Isabel, Countess of Bedford.

1540's ~ Following decades of infrequent visits by the Royal family, the buildings are dismantled and levelled over to form the garden of a nearby house. The tower is kept as a garden feature.