29 March 2011


The original castle at Conisbrough was built around 1070 by the first Earl Warenne, son-in-law of William the Conqueror. The fifth earl was Hamelin Plantagenet, bastard half-brother to Henry II. The stone castle was built during his earldom, between 1163 and 1202. The cylindrical keep, unique to Conisbrough, was erected circa 1180. Only that at Mortemer, near Dieppe, is similar, and this too is thought to be the work of Hamelin.

Conisbrough was later held by Edward II, was returned to the de Warennes in 1326, but reverted again to the Crown under Edward III. By the time the castle was settled to the Crown in perpetuity, in 1495, it was already over 300 years old, and showing its age. When Henry VIII had it surveyed in 1537 the gates, bridge and one floor of the keep were found ruined. Ironically, because it was no longer secure it avoided Civil War bombardment and slieghting.

The castle, which features in Scott's Ivanhoe, is now in the care of English Heritage. It's very worthy of a visit, but telephone first, as EH appear unable to ensure it's open on all the dates stated their handbook. The town of Conisbrough itself though could be closed entirely and one not notice. On the road to/from the motorway however is a rather nice water tower, built 1951.

1 comment:

YMGW said...

In praise of English Heritage: free entry to another of their sites has been offered to compensate for Conisbrough Castle being closed. Good customer service involves such simple, but appreciated, gestures when things go wrong.