Feature image of Carisbrooke Castle

Carisbrooke Castle

Carisbrooke Castle is a fascinating place with a long and rich history. Join us as we explore the castle’s past, from its early days as a Norman fortress to its recent role as a Royal residence.

LocationCarisbrooke, Isle of Wight, England (Google Map Location)
Open for visitorsYes
Owned byCrown Estate
Room’s availableWeddings, Events, Filming

Carisbrooke Castle History

Carisbrooke Castle
Carisbrooke Castle, by Andrew Skudder, is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Carisbrooke Castle is a historical monument strategically located on the Isle of Wight. It made it an important stronghold. The castle was initially built in the 11th century by William the Conqueror as a wooden motte-and-bailey structure. It was rebuilt in stone in the 12th century and has been remodelled several times throughout its history.

During the Norman Conquest, The castle was used as a base by William the Conqueror. He built a motte and bailey castle on the site, which was later extended. The castle remained in the hands of the Norman kings for many years.

In 1210, King John took ownership of the castle. He added a keep to the castle, which was later extended by Henry III. During this time, The castle became an important royal palace. In 1333, Edward III gave the castle to his son, Edward, who later became known as the Black Prince. The Black Prince made a few changes in the castle, including adding a new gatehouse. In 1470, Edward IV gave the castle to his brother-in-law, Anthony Woodville. Woodville added a new chapel.

The castle remained in royal hands until 1547, when it was passed to Sir Edward Seymour. Seymour made some changes in the castle’s layout, but it otherwise remained much as it had been during Woodville’s time.

In 1645 during the Civil War, Parliamentary forces besieged and captured the castle from Royalist troops, who then blew up part of the defences to prevent its further use.

Later, during the reign of Elizabeth I, the castle was used as a prison for political prisoners and those convicted of treason. Notable inmates included Mary, Queen of Scots and Sir Walter Raleigh.

Carisbrooke Castle Architecture

Carisbrooke Castle was built on an earlier Norman fortification. The castle stands on a natural rise in the landscape, dominating the village of Carisbrooke and the surrounding area. The castle’s position ensured that any enemy approaching from the south or east would be spotted long before they reached the castle itself, giving the defenders plenty of time to prepare.

The original motte-and-bailey castle was built by William the Conqueror soon after his conquest of England in 1066. The motte (a mound of earth) was surrounded by a wooden palisade (a fence made of posts). A second palisade surrounded the bailey (the Courtyard). A wooden keep (a fortified tower) was on top of the motte. The keep had walls 3 meters (10 feet) thick and windows that were only slits for archers to shoot through.

Carisbrooke Castle gatehouse
Carisbrooke Castle gatehouse, by DeFacto, is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

The original Norman keep at Carisbrooke Castle was a simple wooden structure. Later it was rebuilt in stone and then remodelled over the centuries. The castle you see today primarily results from work carried out during the Elizabethan period.

The castle’s interior includes several rooms that would have been used for different purposes by the occupants over the centuries. These include the Great Hall, Chapel, Kitchens, Dining Room, Solar, and Private chambers.

Inside Carisbrooke Castle

View of Carisbrooke Castle Keep from Walls
View of Carisbrooke Castle Keep from Walls, by The Land, is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

The Courtyard is the easternmost part of the castle, and the first area visitors see. It is entered through a large gateway. To the left of the gateway is a small Norman Chapel, and to the right is the Great Hall. The Courtyard was used for many activities, such as jousting, archery practice, markets, and festivals.

The keep is located centrally within the inner walled area of the castle and stands on a natural chalk hill. It is an irregular polygonal with eleven sides and three projecting corner towers. The keep has three storeys with an attic storey within the gabled roofline. The entry to the keep is on the first-floor level via an arched doorway that leads into a small chamber located on the main stairs up to the second-floor hall. On each floor, there are several rooms, including a chapel on the third floor.

Carisbrooke Castle Facts

  • The first castle on the site was built by William the Conqueror in 1068. However, the castle that stands today was built in the 12th century by Henry I. 
  • Many English monarchs have called Carisbrooke Castle home, including King Charles I, who was imprisoned there before his execution in 1649. 
  • Today, visitors can explore the castle grounds, which include a Norman chapel and a medieval keep. 
  • The castle also houses a Museum of Royal Closeoms, which contains a collection of royal historical artefacts.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is Carisbrooke Castle?

Carisbrooke Castle is located on the Isle of Wight, off the south coast of England.

When was Carisbrooke Castle built?

The castle was built in the 11th century by William the Conqueror.

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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