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CARISBROOKE CASTLE

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The site of Casrisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight. The earliest activity on the site was identified during excavations in the inner bailey, where a 6th century pagan cemetery was identified, followed by a 10th century settlement and an 11th century Saxon fort. A Norman castle was built soon after 1066. The first motte and bailey castle was built in circa 1100 by Richard de Redvers, lord of the Isle of Wight, and the castle remained in his family until 1293 when it reverted to the crown. In the 1590s Carisbrooke was one of only a few places to be completely refortified as an artillery fortress against the Spanish. The castle was used as a prison for King Charles I in 1747-8 prior to his execution. After the Civil War it became the residence of the island's governors, including Princess Beatrice (daughter of Queen Victoria). Today the chapel acts as the island's war memorial.

The curtain wall was constructed by 1136 on the mound of the Norman castle. Some towers were probably added to the wall from the start, with subsequent ones added and demolished over the years. The stone Gatehouse was built after 1272, although one was present by 1136, and replaced a timber one of circa 1100. Its cylindrical towers were built in 1335-6 in response to French raids, and were heightened in 1380 after a siege by the French in 1377. Further modifications were made in 1470 by Anthony Woodville, captain of the island. By the late 19th century the Gatehouse was ruinous, and was restored in 1897 by architect and local historian Percy Stone. The gates at the inner end of the gate passage are of 15th century date. Other extant structures include Carey's Mansion built in 1584-6; the 13th century Great Hall, St Peter's Chapel, Constable's Lodging, and Well House; the 14th century south-east range; medieval chapel of St Nicholas; the Privy Garden; the Saxon Lower Enclosure, and the Artillery Fortifications and Bowling Green. The site is in the care of English Heritage.

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