Constable Hadleigh Castle


Amongst the notable inclusions in the history of Hadleigh Castle was a visit from the English painter John Constable to Hadleigh in 1814. Principally famous for his landscape paintings, Constable made a small-scale drawing of the castle in preparation for a further 10 oil sketches and a single painting. This oil painting was completed in 1829 and was exhibited at the Royal Academy on Picadilly in London during the same year. One of the sketches is presently on display at the Tate Gallery, also in London, whilst the oil painting itself now resides at the Yale Center for British Art at New Haven in the United States of America.

Hadleigh Castle History

Originally Hadleigh Castle was commissioned for construction in the year 1230 for Hubert de Burgh, the 1st Earl of Kent and Chief Justiciar of England, during the reign of King Henry III, but this was requisitioned in 1232 by the King after Hubert was sent to prison.

Of Kentish ragstone in construct, the castle was cemented using a mortar containing a large ratio of seashells; in particular cockleshells which were sourced from the cockle beds of the neighbouring Canvey Island. In its revised capacity as a royal property following the imprisonment of Hubert de Burgh mentioned above it was heavily extended and fortified in the 1360s by Edward III; these extensions and fortifications being what mostly remain in this day and age. The castle and adjoining 567 acre parcel of land comprised part of the dower of several English queens in both the 15th and 16th centuries, including Elizabeth Woodville, who became the wife of Edward IV and no less than 3 of the wives of Henry VII; Catherine of Aragon, Anne of Cleves, and Catherine Parr. In the year 1551 the castle was sold for the sum of Ā£700 by Edward VI to Lord Rich of Leez Priory in Chelmsford. Lord Rich went on to use it as a source of stone for other buildings altogether and later passed on possession of it to the Barnard Family.

By the 17th century the castle had been left ruined by years of neglect and land subsidence. 2 towers constructed during the reign of Edward III still remain to this day however. Of these 3-storey towers the one standing to the eastern side, fashioned from rubble, stands at nearly full height with narrow rectangular windows on the upper levels. The second of the towers though is not as in as good a condition; approximately only a third of the original construct remains, with most of it having disintegrated following a landslide. Other than that the foundations of the great hall are still present, together with two solars, the kitchen and some sections of the curtain. In addition there is a barbican formerly present next to a swing-bridge.

You can also read a little about the nearby attractions on our pages dedicated to Hadleigh Country Park and Hadleigh Farm

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