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Map of Ross-on-Wye showing Wilton castle
Wilton Castle - civil war survivor
This wonderful castle dates back to the 12th century and guarded the river crossing at Ross-on-Wye. In the Civil War one side thought the best way to recruit the owner was to burn down house! Find out if they were right...
Wilton Castle is nowhere near as well known as its neighbour Goodrich Castle – possibly because it's remained in private hands, rather than being looked after by English Heritage or the National Trust.
All that may chage, as the castl, which has been derelict since the 17th century, may now be restored with help from English Heritage.
The owner, Alan Parslow, fell in love with the ruin having seen it advertised in a local paper and hopes eventually to move into a house built in the castle walls.
A bit of history
The exact date that the castle was built is unknown, but it was probably constructed sometime in the middle or towards the end of the 12th century.
Its distinctive red walls are made from local red sandstone, and were built to replace an earlier Norman earthwork motte and bailey fortress.
The castle was built to guard a strategically important crossing on the River Wye, probably by Hugo de Longchamp.
The rectangular keep, a twin-towered gatehouse and the curtain wall flanked by octagonal and round towers date back to the 14th century, and were built by Roger de Grey.
In the 16th century Charles Brydges added an Elzabethan mansion inside the castle walls.
Arson and old lace
The English civil war was the ruin of many of Britain’s castles, but Wilton Castle survived, though the house within the castle was burned down.
The reasons behind this arson make an interesting story, and graphically illustrate just how hard it was to stay neutral in the Civil War.
Sir John Brydges, the owner of Wilton Castle, wanted to keep well out of the fighting between the Royalists and the Parliamentarians.
To this end he volunteered for military duties in Ireland, but on returning to Hereford to try and raise troops found himself under real pressure to join the Royalists holding Hereford.
Sir John wouldn’t be swayed, which annoyed the Royalists, and on a Sunday morning, when Sir John and his family were in church, they set fire to his house.
Not surprisingly a very annoyed Sir John promptly joined the Parliamentary side.
The moral would seem to be that in this case an Englishman’s home really was his castle, so best not burn it down if you want to keep in his good books.
last updated: 22/07/2008 at 13:41
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