BAYNARD'S CASTLE (Site of)

Baynard’s Castle was one of a small number of fortifications raised shortly after the Norman invasion inside the perimeter of London’s Roman Town Walls. Situated on the banks of the River Thames, a portion of the site was gifted to the church in 1275 but the main castle buildings remained in use until the seventeenth century. Nothing is visible of the castle today.

History

 

Baynard's Castle was built circa-1067 in the western corner of the London town walls near the point where the River Fleet intersects with the River Thames. It was raised by Ralph Baynard who was one of the Norman magnates who fought with William I at Hastings and had distinguished himself in that battle. He was rewarded with grants of land in Eastern England - then the population centre of England - as well as the site of Baynard's Castle. His initial fortification would have been an earth and timber structure and, along with the Tower of London and Montfichet's Tower, were key to maintaining the intimidation of the town to prevent any insurrection against Norman rule.

 

Ralph's grandson, William Baynard, forfeited the castle in 1110 when he was convicted of insurrection against Henry I. The site reverted to the Crown and was immediately re-allocated to Robert FitzRichard, a descendant of the powerful de Clare family. Robert would go on to serve Henry I and King Stephen as Steward. In 1198 it passed to his grandson, Robert FitzWalter, who became one of the leading magnates opposed to King John, allegedly on the grounds that the King had attempted to seduce his daughter.  By 1212 Robert was in open rebellion against the King prompting Royalist forces to attack and badly damage Baynard's Castle. Robert remained in arms against the regime until his capture at the Battle of Lincoln (1217). Thereafter Robert was reconciled with John's successor, Henry III, and Baynard's Castle was restored to him and rebuilt.

 

In 1275 a portion of the site was granted by the FitzWalters to the church to enable the foundation of a community of Dominican Friars (known as Blackfriars due to the colour of their cape). However, part of the castle remained in use as, at some point after 1285, it was rebuilt and converted into a luxury residence. Details as to who constructed this are unclear; a charter from 1338 makes reference to a "tower of the Thames" erected during the reign of Edward II and by 1428 it was in the care of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester who rebuilt part of the structure following a fire.

 

The castle continued in use throughout the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. It was used as a Royal residence and court including by Edward IV who assumed the title of King at Baynard's Castle after overthrowing the regime of Henry VI.  After Richard, Duke of Gloucester became King in 1483 it became a possession of the Crown. Henry VII made use of the site rebuilding it in the 1490s and used it to host Philip, King of Castile. It was later granted to William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke and, in the late sixteenth century, was acquired by Sir John Fortescue. The castle remained standing until it was obliterated during the Great Fire of London in 1666.

 

 

Bibliography

 

Allen, R (1976). English Castles. Batsford, London.

Armitage, E.S (1904). Early Norman Castles of the British Isles. English Historical Review Vol 14 (Reprinted by Amazon).

Carpenter, D (2004). The Struggle for Mastery. Penguin Books Ltd, London.

Creighton, O.H (2002). Castles and Landscapes: Power, Community and Fortification in Medieval England. Equinox, Bristol.

Douglas, D.C and Greeaway, G.W (ed) (1981). English Historical Documents Vol 2 (1042-1189). Routledge, London.

Douglas, D.C and Rothwell, H (ed) (1975). English Historical Documents Vol 3 (1189-1327). Routledge, London.

Huscroft, R (2009). The Norman Conquest: A New Introduction. Pearson Education Limited, Harlow.

Johnson, P (2006). Castles from the Air: An Aerial Portrait of Britain’s Finest Castles. Bloomsbury, London.

Liddiard, R (2005). Castles in Context: Power, Symbolism and Landscape 1066-1500. Macclesfield.

Prior, S (2006). A Few Well-Positioned Castles: The Norman Art of War. Tempus, London.

What's There?

There are no visible remains of Baynard's Castle but its location, which is centred around the site of the Mermaid Theatre, is freely accessible.

Baynard's Castle. The castle was located on the site currently occupied by the Mermaid Theatre, BT building and City of London School.  It extended to the river.

Castle Baynard. Although the castle has been obliterated, its legacy survives in road names and a London Ward.

London Castles. Both Baynard's Castle and Montfichet Tower were built within the perimeter of the Roman Walls.

Getting There

The sites of both Baynard's Castle and Montfichet Tower can be found near St Paul's Cathedral and Blackfriars.  The use of public transport is strongly recommended.

Baynard's Castle (Site of)

Queen Victoria Street, EC4V 4AA

51.512083N 0.101241W

Montfichet Tower (Site of)

Carter Lane, EC4V 5EA

51.513323N 0.102096W