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HADLEIGH CASTLE

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The buried, earthwork and ruined remains of Hadleigh Castle are located in the parish of Hadleigh, Essex. They include a polygonal bailey surrounded by a curtain wall. The castle is thought to have been built by Hubert de Burgh sometime between 1215 and 1239, after which it was seized by the crown. Its original form was probably an octagon elongated east-west with square angle towers and a barbican at the east end. The semicircular north and south towers are of a second phase but may have been built by Hubert. It is thought that there were gardens on the south side of the castle and that they may have been developed during this early phase. According to archaeological excavations, part of the complex included a hall dating to the mid 13th century which had been rebuilt twice by 1300. Evidence was also found of a garderobe attached to the second phase hall and a buttery to the third.

Little other building work was carried out at Hadleigh Castle for much of the rest of the 13th century but royal interest appears to have revived under Edward II. He assigned it to the royal chamber by 1316 and spent considerable sums on it. Under Edward III it again appears to have been neglected but during the 1360s he undertook a major programme of construction completely altering the layout of the castle and redesigning the approaches. Following these alterations, royal interest in the castle diminished and it passed to several nobles, as well as wives of Henry VIII, before being sold by Edward VI in 1552. It was bought by Lord Riche who began dismantling the castle for its building stone and it was in a ruinous state by the 17th century. It is thought that in the 18th and 19th centuries the castle may have been used as an observation tower by revenue officers due to the historical graffiti that surrounds the seaward-facing windows on the upper floor.

Hadleigh Castle has been under the guardianship of English Heritage since 1948.

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