Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Hadleigh Castle (Hadleigh (Essex))

The ruins of Hadleigh Castle stand on the downs at Hadleigh (Essex), overlooking the estuary of the River Thames.

The castle was originally built by the powerful Hubert de Burgh, Chief Justiciar to King John and Henry III, in about 1230, using stone that was ferried across the river from Kent.

It was unusual for mediaeval castles in that it had no keep.

Edward I gave the castle to his second wife, Margaret of France.

The main feature is a circular tower, dating from the rebuilding by Edward III in about 1370, to guard the approaches to London along the Thames.

During the Peasants' Revolt, which started in this part of Essex, the castle gave shelter to members of the local nobility who feared for their lives.

In the 16th century, it was the home at various times of three of Henry VIII's wives - Catherine of Aragon, Anne of Cleves and Catherine Parr. A little later, it became one of the many Essex properties owned by the notorious Lord Rich, who hastened its ruination by carting away much of the stone for repairs elsewhere.

Hadleigh Castle can be seen from Leigh, and is best known from John Constable's splendid atmospheric painting of 1829. The castle is now in the care of English Heritage.

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