Carisbrooke Castle

arisbrooke Castle was originally a Roman fort. The castle is located in the centre of the Isle of Wight and was put up soon after William the Conqueror came to England. The Earl of Hereford, William Fitz Osbern may have been responsible for its construction, but he was killed in battle during 1070/1071 and so would have had little opportunity to oversee the construction. Osbern's son, Roger, is more likely to have built or refortified the castle. It was at Carisbrooke Castle that William arrested his own half brother, Odo for acts of treason. Henry I granted the castle in the first year of his reign to Richard de Redvers. The Redvers family owned the castle for much of the Medieval period, only ending in November 1293 when the last Redvers, Isabel died. In 1136, Baldwin de Redvers took refuge in the castle on the run from King Stephen. Unfortunately the wells on the island ran dry and Baldwin gave up the land in exchange for his head. Baldwin's land was restored to him in 1153 when Henry II became king. Baldwin, the last male in the line, died in 1216 poisoned, it is said by Peter of Savoy. Isabella de Fortibus, Baldwin's sister took control of the castle and successfully ran it until her death in 1293.

In the reign of Queen Eliabeth I, the Italian engineer Federigo Gianibelli was employed to improve the earthwork defences around the castle. The modifications were designed to make it harder for cannons to fire in a direct line at the walls of the castle. The outer gateway was also rebuilt in the Elizabethan period.

Carisbrooke Castle served as the prison for Charles I after he was captured trying to flee the country. In more recent times the castle was the home of the governors of the Isle of Wight, the last of whom was Princess Beatrice, daughter of Queen Victoria.


Carisbrooke Castle Key Facts
CountyIsle Of Wight (2 castles)
DirectionsOn the south-west siide of Newport, Isle of Wight
CategoriesPre Medieval / Motte & Bailey / Stone
RemainsNot complete but much survives
Access to siteOnly open at certain times


YearMonthEvent
1100   Carisbrooke Castle given to de Redvers
 Henry I granted the ownership of the castle on the Isle of Wight to Richard de Redvers a Norman nobleman. 
1136   Baldwin de Redvers flees to Carisbrooke
 The Earl of Devon, Baldwin de Redvers takes refuge in Carisbrooke castle on the Isle of Wight after a defeat at the hands of King Stephen. 
1355   Carisbrooke Castle passes to Isabel
 After the death of Isabella de Fortibus in 1293 the castle became the property of Edward I and the crown. In 1355 Edward III granted the ownership of the castle to his daughter Isabel. 
1377   Carisbrooke defended against the French
 The French landed on the Isle of Wight and attacked Carisbrooke castle. The castle did not fall to the French. 
Early Modern Period (1500-1800)
1647 Nov  Charles I held at Carisbrooke Castle
 Charles I took refuge at Carisbrooke but the castle later turned out to be his prison from where he attempted several times to escape but failed. 

Motte and Bailey Castles

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The Norman Conquerors built their castles in locations where they could keep control of the local populations of Saxons or at important locations such as river crossings or on key roads. Many motte and bailey castles were built on the border with Wales to try and keep the Welsh at bay. The advantage of this type of castle was that it was quick to construct. Making a fortification from wood was much easier than making one of stone.

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