The Castles of East Anglia

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In the castle passed into the custody of the state, which carried out further stabilisation work and a programme of archaeological investigation. In English Heritage passed the management of the site back to its current owner, Baron Howard of Rising , who continues to operate the castle as a tourist attraction. Castle Rising comprises three baileys , each defended by large earthworks, covering a total area of 5 hectares 12 acres , which archaeologists Oliver Creighton and Robert Higham consider to be among the most impressive in Britain.

In the inner bailey is the great keep, probably modelled on that of Norwich Castle. It features extensive Romanesque designs , including pilaster buttresses and arcading. Historians Beric Morley and David Gurney believe this to be "one of the finest of all Norman keeps", and its military utility and political symbolism have been extensively discussed by academics.

The castle was originally surrounded by a carefully managed landscape, from the planned town in front of the castle, to the deer park and rabbit warrens that stretched out behind it, intended to be viewed from the lord's chamber in the great keep. The castle was located 5 miles 8. Massive resources were required to construct Castle Rising, which included three baileys with large earthwork defences and a stone keep , with an adjacent deer park just behind the castle. It is uncertain how often William actually stayed at his new castle. A prolonged civil war known as the Anarchy broke out in England from until , between the followers of King Stephen and the Empress Matilda , only ending when Matilda's son, Henry II , finally inherited the kingdom.

Despite William having backed Stephen during the war, after the end of the conflict he proved a loyal supporter of Henry and was allowed to retain his possessions. Henry clamped down on the operation of the regional mints, however, and closed the facility at Castle Rising; the local Jews resettled in King's Lynn. The Montalts were a prominent baronial family, but they had few other estates in the region and their family fortunes declined. From then on, Isabella used Castle Rising as one of her main residences until her death in The castle then passed to Isabella's grandson, Edward the Black Prince.

Top Castles in East Anglia, England

Under Richard II , the rights to the castle changed hands several times, despite Edward's charter having made it a permanent part of the Duchy. In the 15th and early 16th centuries, Castle Rising continued to be owned by the Duchy of Cornwall. Minor repairs on the castle were carried out during the period, including to the castle bridge, but the state of the property gradually declined.

Despite these challenges, fresh construction work was carried out around this time. Castle Rising continued to be owned by the Howard family, and in the 19th century it was inherited by Mary Howard, and her husband Fulke Greville Howard. Initially the chapel was believed to be of Anglo-Saxon origin and to have been buried under the earthworks when they were first constructed.

By the castle's condition had deteriorated and the Ministry of Works took legal custody of the site, although it continued to be owned by the Howard family. English Heritage took over control of the castle in and continued to operate it as a tourist attraction.


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In the 21st century the castle is protected by UK law as an ancient monument and a grade I listed building. The fortification of Castle Rising was constructed in a carefully designed landscape. In front of the castle was the town of Castle Rising, moved to its new site when the castle was built. The settlement appears to have been laid out to a grid-plan design, possibly bounded by ditches; with the castle positioned just behind it, in a similar fashion to that at New Buckenham and Malton Castle.

The castle's deer park, which merged into the larger Rising Chase, was positioned behind the castle in a similar way to that at Devizes Castle. Castle Rising is made up of two rectangular baileys to the west and east, and an oval inner bailey in the middle, each with their own substantial earthwork defences and ditches. The main architectural focus of the inner bailey was the great keep, but it also contained a Norman chapel and, from at least the 14th century onwards, a complex of smaller residential and service buildings.

On the north side of the bailey are the remains of the Norman chapel, which comprised a nave , a square tower and an apsidal chancel , The keep is built from courses of local, brown carrstone rubble with oolite ashlar facings, and is strengthened with intramural timbers, laid down within the stone walls to reinforce the structure. The interior of the keep is divided by an internal wall to improve its structural strength, the division running north-south through the building. Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies.

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The Castles of East Anglia

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