Hadleigh Castle

The History of Hadleigh Castle

LocationHadleigh, Essex, England (Google Map)
Open for VisitorsYes
Owned byEnglish Heritage
Rooms AvailableNo

Hadleigh Castle is a ruined castle located in the small town of Hadleigh, Essex. It was originally built around 1215 when Henry III resigned, and Hubert de Burgh took his place. The Castle played a vital economic and defensive role at that time. Today, the Castle remains are protected and cared for by the English Heritage and are listed as a Grade I building. It is open to the public, and you can visit it and enjoy the beautiful setting, panoramic views, and Hadleigh Castle walk over there.


Hadleigh Castle was built by Hubert de Burgh, the 1st Earl of Kent, in 1215, when John gave him the honour of Rayleigh as a reward for his services. The first structure of the Castle was designed using soft deposits of London clay. However, in the 13th century, the Castle’s south side was destroyed because of the tide. The Castle park was ordered to be more wooded to prevent direct tides and solve the problem. By 1235, the park of Hadleigh was built around the Castle with woodland, fishpond, stables, and a park lodge.

This Castle had an octagon structure protected by square and semi-circular mural towers. It had a resemblance to White Castle. Later, the Castle was built using Kentish ragstone and cement. In 1239, De Burgh was imprisoned, and the Castle went to the hands of Henry III. It was used as a royal castle after that. However, in the 1250s, the Castle fell into neglect, and in 1273, it was given to Queen Eleanor. She added a new hall and adjacent solar complex to the Castle. But it also collapsed due to subsidence.

In 1299, the Castle was given to Queen Margaret. Her husband, Edward I, used it twice as a base for hunting. In the early 1300s, Edward II handled most of the renewal and rebuilding work of the Castle. New royal quarters were added to it by him. He stayed in the Castle until 1324. Edward III acquired Hadleigh Castle in 1330. In the 1360s, he spent a significant amount on rebuilding work. The famous Hadleigh Castle escape room was one of the additions. The Castle was used as a base for defending the Thames estuary against French raids.

The ownership was then further transferred to Edward III’s grandson, Richard II, who barely used the Castle. He granted permission to Aubrey de Vere to use the Castle till he lived.

During the 15th century, the Castle was passed on to many owners. Its condition started to deteriorate in 1544, and it began to break down. In 1551, the parks and Castle were sold for £700.

In 1814, a famous English painter John Constable visited Hadleigh and made a painting of the Castle along with ten oil sketches. In 1891, William Booth purchased the Hadleigh Castle and used it for the Salvation Army. In 1898 and 1923, the southern curtain walls of the Castle collapsed because of the slippage of the ridge. There was also considerable subsidence.

In 1948, the Salvation Army decided to give the Castle to the Ministry of Works. Since then, the Hadleigh castle has been with the English Heritage. Meanwhile, the Castle got even more ruined, but some sections of the Castle can still be found.


Hadleigh Castle in late afternoon sunshine, by Chris Morgan, is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Castle’s romantic ruins consist of two drum towers with unusual bands of flint decoration and a barbican gate. Also, you can explore the great hall, solars, and the kitchen structure. The whole architecture was designed using Kentish Ragstone. The Castle Walk is still accessible to the public. It can be a perfect place to enjoy a family picnic and pleasant weather. The lovely views of the Thomas Estuary and Old Leigh will add more to the visit. There is plenty of space for kids to play and run around.

Is Hadleigh Castle Haunted?

A lot of people have reported some disturbing sights and voices in Hadleigh Castle. The story of Sally, a milkmaid who encountered a ghostly woman and was hit on the neck, is also very famous.

One of the visitors, Gordon Miller, who visited the castle many years ago, clicked these scary pictures.

What do you make of all these stories? Do let us know in the comments if you have visited the castle before!

Frequently Asked Questions

When was Hadleigh Castle built?

The first structure of Hadleigh Castle was built around 1215 by Hubert de Burgh, the Earl of Kent.

How did Hadleigh Castle fall down?

Hadleigh Castle overlooks the Thames Estuary. It gets great tides from the River Thames. This Castle was built using geologically unstable clay. The structure of the Castle was unable to handle the tides, and it fell down. Later, the stronger structure of Hadleigh castle was built, but it also didn’t survive.

Have you visited this castle before? If yes, why not share some beautiful pictures with us!
You can email us your pictures of the castle at castrumtocastle@gmail.com. Please use the name of the castle in the subject line.
Also, don’t forget to mention your name and social media profile link if you want the credits!

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