Information on Hadleigh and Hadleigh Castle Essex
Hadleigh in the county of Essex is approximately 5 miles west of Southend-on-sea and 35 miles east of London. The population consists of around 18000. Hadleigh is best known for its Norman, Grade 1 listed, St.James The Less Church in the centre of the town and the 13th century Hadleigh Castle.
What remains of Hadleigh Castle are the ruins of a once royal castle overlooking Essex marshes. Hadleigh Castle was built in the 1230s during the reign of King Henry III for the 1st Earl of Kent and chief justice of England, Hubert de Burgh, but the castle was requisitioned in 1232 by Henry after Hubert was imprisoned. Hadleigh Castle is one of the most prominent historical landmarks in the English county of Essex. The Castle overlooks the Thames Estuary from a ridge to the south of the town of Hadleigh. Hadleigh Castle is now preserved by English Heritage as a grade 1 listed building. The ruins of the castle provided part of the name for the newly formed borough of Castle Point in 1974. The Castle was built of Kentish rag stone and cemented by a mortar containing mainly seashells in particular cockleshells from the cockle beds of neighbouring Canvey Island. The castle formed part of the dower of several English queens in the 15th and 16th centuries, including Elizabeth Woodville the wife of Edward IV and three of the wives of Henry VIII, Catherine of Aragon, Anne of Cleves, and Catherine Parr. Edward VI sold the castle in 1551 for the sum of £700 to Lord Rich of Lees priory in Chelmsford who used the castle as a source of stone for other buildings such as churches. The castle later passed from the possession of Lord Rich to the Bernard family.
Years of neglect and the effects of subsidence had left the castle in ruins by the 17th century, but the two towers that were constructed by Edward III still remain to this day. One of the three storey towers stands to nearly full height with narrow rectangular windows in the upper levels. The second tower appears to have disintegrated in a landslip and consequently lost two-thirds of its form. Some sections still exist, the foundations of the great hall, two solars, and the kitchen. Recent archaeological research has also discovered evidence of Roman activity here.