Notes: Castle is not sign-posted. Accessed via a footpath off North Street. No dedicated car parking but on-road parking is possible on the various side-roads nearby.
WHAT IS THERE TO SEE?
Earthworks associated with the original circular fortification and the later motte-and-bailey. Although much depleted from their original state, the basic layout can be appreciated whilst the deep of the defensive ditch is still impressive.
NO OFFICIAL SITE
1. The name of the village Castlethorpe means "secondary settlement of the castle”.
2. After his successful attack on Castelthorpe Castle on behalf of King John, Faulkes de Breaute then attacked and took Bedford Castle. During the following reign he would fall foul of his political opponent, Hugh de Burgh, and ultimately forfeited all his properties whilst spending his later life in exile.
Castlethorpe Castle Layout. The original roughly circular fortified enclosure was augmented by a motte during the Anarchy (early twelfth century) whilst a large outer bailey (now largely buried under the modern village) was constructed during the Barons War (thirteenth century).
Originally a fortified enclosure built in the aftermath of the Norman Invasion, Castlethorpe Castle (known as Hanslope Castle) was raised by Winemar the Fleming. It was upgraded into a full motte-and-bailey fortification during the Anarchy but was later destroyed by in the first Baron’s War and never rebuilt.
HISTORY OF CASTLETHORPE CASTLE (HANSLOPE CASTLE)
The manor of Hanslope, in which Castlethorpe is situated, was granted to Winemar the Fleming in 1067 in gratitude for his support of the Norman Conquest at the expense of the former Saxon ruler, Aldene. Castlethorpe itself was sited near Watling Street - a former Roman Road still in use in Medieval times (and today!) running between London and Wroxeter. Whilst it is not known if a settlement existed at Castlethorpe itself at this time, the location seems to have prompted Winemar to fortify the site. Although no mention is made in the Domesday Book (1086) it is likely that construction of Winemar's castle commenced soon after having gained possession of the land. The defences consisted of a circular earth bank topped with a timber palisade and protected by a moat and within some form of Great Hall or Manor House would have acted as its administrative centre.
Winemar's son took the name Michael de Hanslope but he had no male heirs and it passed through the marriage of his daughter, Maud, to William Maudit. He died in 1118 with the site passing briefly to Robert Maudit, Chancellor to Henry I. But Robert was killed, along with Henry I's only male heir, in the sinking of the White Ship in 1120. It then passed to his brother, William Maudit, who owned the site as England descended into the Anarchy - the civil war over the succession to the throne between Henry I's daughter, Queen Matilda, and her cousin, King Stephen. During this unstable period many magnates built unauthorised castles as they sought to protect their assets during the conflict. William, who supported Queen Matilda's claim, was no different and extensively upgraded the defences at Hanslope at this time; he built a motte, topped with a timber tower, within the original enclosure.
The Mauduit family were still in ownership during the reign of King John (1199-1216). His reign saw conflict with his senior magnates in the first Barons War and Robert Maudit was one of his opponents. When Magna Carta failed to achieve peace between the factions, the castle was again enhanced with the large outer bailey being constructed and the defensive ditches deepened. The upgrades proved inadequate for Faulkes de Breaute, steward to King John, attacked and destroyed the castle on 28 November 1215. The manor of Hanslope passed through several other owners - Hugh de Neville and Henry de Brailof - before being returned to the Robert Maudit in 1222 by King Henry III. The castle however was never rebuilt and the Maudit families interests shifted elsewhere; in 1253 Robert's grandson, William Maudit, became Earl of Warwick and acquired the vast property and castles associated with that title. Hanslope was not completely forgotten however as in 1268 William Mauduit’s nephew and heir, William Beauchamp, constructed a fortified hall house in the area although its precise position is unknown.