Carisbrooke Castle

Carisbrooke Castle is a historic motte-and-bailey castle located in the village of Carisbrooke (near Newport), Isle of Wight, England. Charles I was imprisoned at the castle in the months prior to his trial.[1]

Carisbrooke Castle
Carisbrooke, Isle of Wight, England
Carisbrooke Castle - - 528953
The interior of Carisbrooke Castle
Carisbrooke Castle is located in Isle of Wight
Carisbrooke Castle
Carisbrooke Castle
Coordinates50°41′13″N 1°18′48″W / 50.6869°N 1.3134°WCoordinates: 50°41′13″N 1°18′48″W / 50.6869°N 1.3134°W
Grid referencegrid reference SZ486877
Site information
OwnerManaged by English Heritage
Open to
the public
Site history
BuiltBegun in 12th century
In useUntil 1944
Garrison information
Sir Nicholas Wadham (died 1542) Captain of the Isle of Wight, 1509–1520
OccupantsIsabella de Fortibus, Charles I of England (imprisoned), Princess Beatrice of the United Kingdom

Early history

The site of Carisbrooke Castle may have been occupied in pre-Roman times. A ruined wall suggests that there was a building there in late Roman times. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle mentions that Wihtgar, cousin of King Cynric of Wessex, died in AD 544, and was buried there. The Jutes may have taken over the fort by the late 7th century. An Anglo-Saxon stronghold occupied the site during the 8th century. Around 1000, a wall was built around the hill as a defence against Viking raids.

Later history

Carisbrooke Castle 14th century
A reconstruction of Carisbrooke Castle during the 14th century

From 1100 the castle remained in the possession of Richard de Redvers' family, and over the next two centuries his descendants improved the castle with stone walls, towers and a keep. In 1293, Countess Isabella de Fortibus, the last Redvers resident, sold the castle to Edward I. From then on, its governance was entrusted to wardens as representatives of the crown.[2]

In 1377, in the reign of Richard II the castle was unsuccessfully attacked by the French. It was reputedly saved by local hero Peter de Heyno who shot the French commander. Anthony Woodville, Lord Scales, later Earl Rivers, obtained a grant of the castle and rights of Lordship in 1467. He was responsible for the addition of the Woodville Gate, now known as the Entrance Gate.[3] Woodville was killed by Richard III in 1483, but his brother Edward Woodville was given control of the castle on the accession of Henry VII in 1485.[4]

The keep was added to the castle in the reign of Henry I, and in the reign of Elizabeth I, when the Spanish Armada was expected, it was surrounded by additional fortifications by Sir George Carey, who had been appointed Governor of the Isle of Wight in 1583. Carey later commissioned the Italian engineer Federigo Giambelli (or Genebelli) to make more substantial improvements to the defences. Starting in 1597, Giambelli constructed a modern trace Italienne fortification, a squat rampart and ditch supported at intervals by powerful bastions, which completely surrounded the old castle and bailey. The new fortification was mostly completed by 1600 at the cost of £4,000.[5]

The Bowling Green, Carisbrooke Castle - - 1505542
The bowling green used by Charles I during his imprisonment

Charles I was imprisoned here for fourteen months before his execution in 1649.[1] Afterwards his two youngest children were confined in the castle, and Princess Elizabeth died there. From 1896 to 1944, it was the home of Princess Beatrice, daughter of Queen Victoria, as Governor of the Isle of Wight.[6] It is now under the control of English Heritage.[7]

The castle is located above, and to the south of, Carisbrooke village centre.

In 2007, English Heritage opened a holiday flat inside the castle, in converted former staff quarters. The flat is above the museum near the room in which the king was kept captive. A balcony going across the King's prison room adjoins the flat, which is currently rented on a long lease to English Heritage staff. Carisbrooke Castle and the surrounding historic area was, on 27 June 2017, accepted to the 'Approved' list of the independently run Cherwell Newspaper Fashion section. [8] The castle received 126,584 visitors during 2017.[9]


Carisbrooke Castle gatehouse
The gatehouse entrance to the castle
Carisbrooke Castle from south
View of the castle from the south
Carisbrooke Castle from the west
View of the castle from the west

Carisbrooke was the strongest castle on the Island; though it is visible from some distance, it does not dominate the countryside like many other castles.

There are traces of a Roman fort underneath the later buildings. Seventy-one steps lead up to the keep; the reward is a fine view. In the centre of the castle enclosure are the domestic buildings; these are mostly of the 13th century, with upper parts of the 16th century. Some are in ruins, but the main rooms were used as the official residence of the Governor of the Isle of Wight until the 1940s, and they remain in good repair.

The Great Hall, Great Chamber and several smaller rooms are open to the public, and an upper room houses the Isle of Wight Museum. Most rooms are partly furnished.

One of the main subjects of the museum is King Charles I. He tried to escape from the castle in 1648, but was unable to get through the bars of his window.

The name of the castle is echoed in a very different structure on the other side of the world. A visit to the castle by James Macandrew, one of the founders of the New Zealand city of Dunedin, led to him naming his estate "Carisbrook". The name of the estate was later used for Dunedin's main sporting venue.

The Main Gate

The gateway tower was erected by Lord Scales who was lord of the castle at the time in 1464.[3]

The Chapel

The chapel is located next to the main gate. In 1904 the chapel of St Nicholas in the castle was reopened and re-consecrated, having been rebuilt as a national memorial of Charles I. Within the walls is a well 200 feet deep and another in the centre of the keep is reputed to have been still deeper.

The Well-House

Carisbrooke Castle well house 3
A donkey operating the well

Near the domestic buildings is the well-house with its working donkey wheel. As it is still operated by donkeys, the wheel is a great attraction and creates long queues. The well is also famous as the hiding place of the Mohune diamond, in the 1898 adventure novel Moonfleet, by J. Meade Falkner.[10] Wyndham Lewis, who lived on the Isle of Wight as a child, cites the donkey wheel at Carisbrooke as an image for the way machines impose a way of life on human beings ('Inferior Religions', published 1917).

The Constable's Chamber

The Constable's Chamber is a large room located in the castle's medieval section. It was the bedroom of Charles I when he was imprisoned in the castle, and Princess Beatrice used it as a dining room. It is now home to Charles I bed as well as Princess Beatrice's large collection of stag and antelope heads. This room was used as the castle's education centre up until recently.


Surrounding the whole castle are large earthworks, designed by the Italian Federigo Gianibelli, and begun in the year before the Spanish Armada. They were finished in the 1590s. The outer gate has the date 1598 and the arms of Elizabeth I.

List of Constables of Carisbrooke Castle

Name Dates in office Source
William Briwere, Jnr 1217 [11]
Waleran Tyes 1224 [11]
Savery de Mauleon 1227 [11]
Bishop of Winchester 1233 [11]
Benedict 1269 [11]
Hugh de Hanneby 1270 [11]
John Hardington 1277 [11]
Humphrey de Dunster c.1294 [12]
Sir William Russell ?–1307 [13]
Nicholas de Bois 1307/1309? [14]
John de Langford 1334 [11]
Sir Hugh Tyrrel 1377 [11]
William de Montagu, Earl of Salisbury 1382–1397 [15]
Henry Beaufort, 3rd Duke of Somerset 1457-? [16]
Anthony Woodville 1467–1483 [3]
Sir Edward Woodville 1485–1488 [17]
Sir Reginald Bray 1495–1503 [11]
Sir Nicholas Wadham (d.1542) 1509–1520 [18]
Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex 1520–1538 [11]

See also


  1. ^ a b "English Castles – Carisbrooke Castle". Archived from the original on 12 September 2009. Retrieved 8 March 2017.
  2. ^ "CastleXplorer – Carisbrooke Castle". Archived from the original on 30 July 2012. Retrieved 2 January 2009.
  3. ^ a b c "Fortified Places – Fortresses – Carisbrooke Castle". Retrieved 2 January 2009.
  4. ^ Wilkins, Christopher, The Last Knight Errant: Edward Woodville and the Age of Chivalry, IB Tauris, 2009, p. 133
  5. ^ Goode, Dominic. "Carisbrooke Castle". Retrieved 5 December 2014.
  6. ^ "Tour UK – A tourist guide to Carisbrooke Castle". Archived from the original on 10 December 2008. Retrieved 2 January 2009.
  7. ^ "English Heritage – Carisbrooke Castle, Isle of Wight". Retrieved 2 January 2009.
  8. ^ Rix, Juliet (14 July 2007). "Carisbrooke Castle is real thing – and now you can be part of its history". The Independent. Retrieved 13 June 2008.
  9. ^ "ALVA - Association of Leading Visitor Attractions". Retrieved 14 May 2018.
  10. ^ Falkner, John (2019). Moonfleet. Dilek Atik. pp. 144, 159. ISBN 9781099406003.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Victoria County History, Hampshire, 1912, vol.5, Parishes: Carisbrooke, pp. 221–235
  12. ^ Worsley, Sir Richard, History of the Isle of Wight, London, 1781, p.86; Victoria County History, Hampshire, 1912, vol.5, Parishes: Carisbrooke, pp. 221–235
  13. ^ Wiffen, Memorials of the House of Russell, pp.127–131
  14. ^ Wiffen, Memorials of the House of Russell, pp.127–131; Victoria County History, Hampshire, 1912, vol.5, Parishes: Carisbrooke, pp. 221–235
  15. ^ The dates appear in error, as quoted by Victoria County History, Hampshire, 1912, vol.5, Parishes: Carisbrooke, pp. 221–235
  16. ^ "Beaufort, Henry (1436–1464)" . Dictionary of National Biography (1st supplement). London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1901.
  17. ^ Wilkins, Christopher, The Last Knight Errant: Edward Woodville and the Age of Chivalry, IB Tauris, 2009, pp. 162–3
  18. ^ History of Parliament

External links

Anthony Mildmay (courtier)

Anthony Mildmay was an English courtier and politician who sat in the House of Commons in 1640. He waited on King Charles during his imprisonment and had care of two of his children after the King's execution.

Mildmay was the son of Sir Humphrey Mildmay of Danbury Essex. He was awarded MA at Cambridge University on the visit of the King in 1624. He was a royal courtier and was gentleman usher and carver to King Charles I.In April 1640, Mildmay was elected Member of Parliament for West Looe in the Short Parliament.Mildmay waited on King Charles during his imprisonment, and after the execution in 1649 conveyed the body of the King to Windsor. He was responsible escorting the King's children Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Princess Elizabeth to Carisbrooke Castle where Elizabeth died in 1650 and Henry stayed until he went abroad in 1652.Mildmay was the brother of Henry Mildmay, Master of the Jewel Office and later a Parliamentarian.


Carisbrooke is a village on the south western outskirts of Newport, Isle of Wight and is best known as the site of Carisbrooke Castle. It also has a medieval parish church. St Mary's Church (overlooking Carisbrooke High Street with views to the castle), began life as part of a Benedictine priory, established by French monks about 1150. The priory was dissolved by King Henry V of England in 1415 during the French Wars. Neglect over the centuries took its toll, but in 1907 the church was restored to its full glory. Its most striking feature is the 14th century tower, rising in five stages with a turret at one corner and a battlemented and pinnacled crown.

There is a Roman Villa discovered in the Victorian era on the site of the old vicarage.


The Engagers were a faction of the Scottish Covenanters, who made "The Engagement" with King Charles I in December 1647 while he was imprisoned in Carisbrooke Castle by the English Parliamentarians after his defeat in the First Civil War.

Great Budbridge Manor

The Great Budbridge Manor (original name in Domesday Book: Messetone or Marshton; also: Botebrigge, 13th century; Butbrygg or Northbudbrygge, 15th century) is a manor house just south of Merstone, near Arreton, Isle of Wight, England. Fish ponds on the grounds appear medieval.The manor's history has been traced to John de Lisle, Henry de Botebrigge and Walter Urry during the reign of Henry III (1207–72). Records testify its ownership by William Urry in 1280. Consequent to the conviction of Robert Urry, William's son, in 1312 for murdering the Constable of Carisbrooke Castle, part of his land was acquired. However, the manor remained in the name of the family till 1450. More than 200 years later, in 1633 the manor was bought by Sir Robert Dillington, 1st Baronet.

HMS Caistor Castle

HMS Caister Castle was a Castle-class corvette of Britain's Royal Navy and was named after Caister Castle in Norfolk.

HMS Carisbrooke Castle (K379)

HMS Carisbrooke Castle (K379) was a Royal Navy Castle-class corvette. She was named after Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight.

She was launched at Caledon Shipbuilding & Engineering Company, in Dundee, Scotland, on 31 July 1943 and commissioned on 17 November 1943.

After the Second World War, her career was spent in the fleet reserve until May 1952, when she became part of the Second Training Squadron at Portland where she remained until 1956. In 1953, she took part in the Fleet Review to celebrate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.In November 1956, she was placed back in the reserve until she was scrapped at Faslane in 1958.

History of the Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight is rich in historical and archaeological sites, from prehistoric fossil beds with dinosaur remains, to dwellings and artefacts dating back to the Bronze Age, Iron Age, and Roman periods.

Holloway Manor

Holloway Manor (also Holewey, Hollowey) was a manor house on the Isle of Wight, situated within the Newchurch parish. It lies just to the north of Ventnor. It was held of the honour of Carisbrooke Castle and formed part of the estate of John de Lisle in the Island at the end of the 13th century. It followed the descent of South Shorwell until 1641, when it is mentioned for the last time. It is probably the same as the modern Ventnor Manor, which is mentioned for the first time in 1755 and then belonged to the Pophams of South Shorwell. Nearly all the land in Ventnor was sold in 1820 by the Hill family to John Hamborough and building speculators, and the manor no longer exists. Holloway can now only be identified by the Holy Well spring on the down, from which possibly the holding derived its name. In a dispute as to boundaries in 1617, witnesses deposed that Ventnor, Littletown and Holloway were tithings of themselves and that Sir Edward Dennis' ancestors kept court and law day at Holloway, where his tenants did suit royal.

Isabel de Forz, suo jure 8th Countess of Devon

Isabel de Forz or Isabel de Redvers (July 1237 – 10 November 1293) was the eldest daughter of Baldwin de Redvers, 6th Earl of Devon (1217–1245). On the death of her brother Baldwin de Redvers, 7th Earl of Devon in 1262, without children, she inherited suo jure (in her own right) the earldom and also the feudal barony of Plympton in Devon, and the Lordship of the Isle of Wight. After the early death of her husband and her brother, before she was thirty years old, she inherited their estates and became one of the richest women in England, living mainly in Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight, which she held from the king as tenant-in-chief.

She had six children, all of whom died before her. On her death bed she was persuaded to sell the Isle of Wight to King Edward I, in a transaction that has ever since been considered questionable. Her heir to the feudal barony of Plympton was her cousin Hugh de Courtenay (1276–1340), feudal baron of Okehampton, Devon, who in 1335 was declared Earl of Devon.Countess Wear, now a suburb of Exeter, is named after a weir that she built on the River Exe, and she is the subject of several legends and traditions.


Letterlocking is 'the technology of folding & securing an epistolary writing substrate to function as its own envelope'. The process of letterlocking dates to the 13th century in Western history, corresponding with the availability of flexible writing paper. Letterlocking uses small slits, tab, and holes placed directly in to a letter, which combined with folding techniques are used to secure the letter, preventing reading the letter without breaking seals or slips, providing a means of tamper resistance. These folds and holes may be additionally secured with string and sealing wax. Intricate letterlocking works contain artistic elements, demonstrating more than a utilitarian purpose. While the use of sealing techniques may have been limited to ecclesiastic and the nobility, letterlocking was historically performed by all classes of writers. An individual could also be recognised by their personal technique of folding, as was the case with Jane Whorwood, of whose letter Charles I, imprisoned in Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of WIght, wrote 'This Note [...] I know, by the fowldings [...] that it is written by [Mrs Whorwood]'.The term letterlocking was coined in 2009 by Jana Dambrogio, Thomas F. Peterson (1957) Conservator of MIT Libraries, who has been the primary force in researching the practice for many years.

Lord of the Isle of Wight

The Lord of the Isle of Wight is a title that began when William the Conqueror granted the Isle of Wight to William Fitz Osbern. It was a hereditary title.

The last Lord of the Island of Wight was actually not a lord but a lady. Countess Isabella de Fortibus acquired the lordship when her brother died in 1262. The countess had been widowed in 1261 and became the wealthiest female in the British Islands who was not a member of a royal family. Isabella dwelt in Carisbrooke Castle. She exercised her rights and privileges as feudal overlord of the Isle of Wight. In 1293, lying on her death bed, the countess sold the island to Edward I for 6,000 marks.

The Lordship thereafter became a royal appointment. The last Lord of the Isle of Wight was Edward Woodville, Lord Scales (d. 1488).

Marquess of Carisbrooke

Marquess of Carisbrooke was a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. It was created in 1917 for Prince Alexander of Battenberg, eldest son of Princess Beatrice of the United Kingdom (youngest daughter of Queen Victoria) and Prince Henry of Battenberg. He was made Viscount Launceston, in the County of Cornwall, and Earl of Berkhamsted at the same time, also in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. Along with other German-surnamed relations of the British Royal family, Alexander also changed his surname at this time, to Mountbatten. The titles became extinct upon Lord Carisbrooke's death in 1960, as he had no sons.Carisbrooke Castle was the residence of Prince Henry and Princess Beatrice as Governor of the Isle of Wight. The title of Marquess of Berkhampstead had previously been conferred with the Dukedom of Cumberland on Prince William Augustus, son of King George II, in 1726. The title of Viscount Launceston had previously been conferred with the Dukedom of Edinburgh on Prince Frederick Louis, later Prince of Wales, also in 1726.


Merstone is a quaint little hamlet on the Isle of Wight. It is home to Merston Manor, built in 1605 in the Jacobean style by Edward Cheeke, and rebuilt in the Victorian era. Merston Manor was first mentioned in the Domesday Book, and the present structure is arguably the oldest brick house on the Island. Prior to the Norman Conquest, Merston Manor was owned by the Brictuin family. The manor now belongs to the Crofts family. According to the Post Office the population of the hamlet was at the 2011 Census included in the civil parish of Arreton.

Although the manor was considered the most important residence, from 1928 onwards, the Latheys (distant relatives of Anne Boleyn - Henry VIII's second wife) were considered to be the most important family to reside in the hamlet, bringing about change and somewhat encouraging the residents to modernise more hastily. One prominent member of the Lathey family, Michael Lathey Jnr became infamous among the occupants of the hamlet due to a string of practical jokes paid on the townsfolk of Newport and its people. One of which was risking his safety to venture into Newport alone and steal the town crest during the great feud (see below) - which was only recently recovered in 1998.

While Merstone has always been considered to be in the Newport district, conflicts have broken out between rival clans; the Merstone Goldwings and the Newport Broadleaves, the quarrels began after a farmer hailing from Merstone accused a man who resided in Newport of stealing three sheep. No-one was killed in the clashes but homes were torched and property vandalized. However, since the early 1900s the disagreements were settled as Newport residents thought it would be better for the town and hamlet to get along since the citizens of Newport needed to use the newly built railway to Ventnor.

Merstone is near the centre of the Island, roughly equidistant from Blackwater to the northwest, Horringford to the east, and Godshill to the south.

In 1875 Merstone station was opened on the Newport to Sandown railway line. In 1897 the station became the starting point of a branch opened by the Isle of Wight Central Railway to St. Lawrence, and completed to Ventnor West in 1900. In 1952 the branch closed, and in 1956, the station and original railway line skirting the hamlet were also closed. The island platform of the former station is still visible adjacent to National Cycle Route 23.

Well-known island architect Percy Goddard Stone, born 15 March 1856, died in The Cottage at Merstone on 21 March 1934. Stone was responsible for many stone monuments on the Island, such as the County War memorial at Carisbrooke Castle, and war memorials in Arreton, Bembridge and Yarmouth, as well as the Queen Victoria memorial in Newport and churches in Wootton and Cowes.

Public transport is now provided by Southern Vectis on bus route 2, which operates between Newport and Sandown via Shanklin including intermediate villages.

Percy Stone

Percy Goddard Stone fsa friba (1856–21 March 1934) was an English architect, author and archaeologist who worked extensively on the Isle of Wight, where he lived for most of his life. He designed and restored several churches on the island, designed war memorials and rebuilt Carisbrooke Castle. His "passion for archaeology" led him to excavate the ruins of Quarr Abbey, and as an author he wrote about the churches and antiquities of the Isle of Wight and contributed to the Victoria County History.

Peter de Heyno

Peter de Heyno was the Lord of Stenbury, Isle of Wight under Edward III.In 1377 a raiding force of French and Castilians invaded the Isle of Wight and burnt Yarmouth and Newtown which he had to defend. They laid siege to Carisbrooke Castle during which Peter de Heyno killed their leader with an arrow from his "silver bow" fired through a loophole in the battlements known as "De Heyno's Loop". The French were defeated in a sally by the defenders led by the commander Sir Hugh Tyrell and withdrew after payment of a bribe.

Silius Titus

Silius Titus (1623–1704), of Bushey, was an English politician, Captain of Deal Castle, and Groom of the Bedchamber to King Charles II. Colonel Titus was an organiser in the attempted escape of King Charles I from Carisbrooke Castle.

Treaty of Newport

The Treaty of Newport was a failed treaty between Parliament and King Charles I of England, intended to bring an end to the hostilities of the English Civil War. Negotiations were conducted between 15 September 1648 and 27 November 1648, at Newport, Isle of Wight, on the initial proviso that they would not take longer than forty days (negotiations had effectively broken down by 27 October but continued formally to November). Charles was released on parole from his confinement at Carisbrooke Castle and lodged in Newport.Charles began proceedings by withdrawing his declarations against Parliament but also insisted that no concessions he made should be valid until a complete scheme of settlement should be arranged; this led to an air of unreality from the beginning. This is heightened by the fact that Charles secretly sent word to James Butler, 1st Marquis of Ormond not to abide by any settlement reached at Newport.

Parliament appointed fifteen Commissioners: Denzil Holles led a faction that represented a more conservative, Presbyterian interest, and were more inclined for a settlement that favoured the Crown; Henry Vane the Younger led a faction that represented a more moderate, Independent interest, and though they were by no means radical, they acted to secure a settlement which would guarantee the rights gained by Parliament in the Puritan Revolution. It was the influence of the Presbyterians that led to the Parliamentary decision to rescind the Vote of No Addresses from earlier in 1648 in order to allow the talks to occur.Other commissioners included: John Glynne; Nathaniel Fiennes; William Pierrepont; John Crewe; John Potts; Samuel Browne; John Bulkeley; Philip Herbert, 4th Earl of Pembroke; William Cecil, 2nd Earl of Salisbury; James Cranfield, 2nd Earl of Middlesex; Algernon Percy, 10th Earl of Northumberland; William Fiennes, 1st Viscount Saye and Sele; and Thomas Wenman, 2nd Viscount Wenman.

Presbyterian and Middle Group MPs were prepared to continue negotiating with Charles in order to reach a permanent settlement. However, Army radicals had lost patience with him and grew angry when Parliament appeared willing to allow him to come to London to complete the settlement and Vane and Henry Ireton decided to return Charles to Hurst Castle on the mainland.

The purged Parliament annulled the Treaty of Newport on 13 December 1648 and preparations for the trial went ahead.

William FitzOsbern, 1st Earl of Hereford

William FitzOsbern (c. 1020 – 22 February 1071), Lord of Breteuil, in Normandy, was a relative and close counsellor of William the Conqueror and one of the great magnates of early Norman England. FitzOsbern was created Earl of Wessex, a title which his son did not inherit. He was created Earl of Hereford before 22 February 1067, one of the first peerage titles in the English peerage. He is one of the very few proven companions of William the Conqueror known to have fought at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. His chief residence was Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight, one of many English castles he built.

William Russell (knight)

Sir William Russell (1257–1311) was an English nobleman, knight, and holder of a moiety of the feudal barony of North Cadbury, Somerset, but spent most of his life engaged in the administration and defence of the Isle of Wight, where he obtained by marriage the manor of Yaverland. He served as constable of Carisbrooke Castle, and sat in parliament on two occasions, firstly as burgess for Great Bedwyn, Wiltshire, and then for the County of Southampton. As a baron his military service was called on several times by King Edward I Hammer of the Scots.

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