MONTFICHET'S TOWER (Site of)

Montfichet’s Tower, which is also known as Montfichet Castle, was one of a small number of fortifications located within the perimeter of London’s Town Walls. The tower overlooked a fording point over the River Fleet and remained in use until 1275 after which it was sold and demolished to enable the construction of a new Dominican Priory. Nothing of the castle is visible today.

History

 

Montfichet's Castle was built on Ludgate Hill inside the perimeter of the Roman London town wall. Situated adjacent to the medieval crossing point over the River Fleet, overlooking what is now Fleet Street, it was first referred to in a document dated 1130 although it is likely the structure was built in the years following the Norman Conquest. It took its name from its owners, the Montfichet family.

 

Little is now known about the structure although it is believed to have consisted of a tower (the site is normally referred to as Montfichet Tower) which, based on archaeological investigations in the late twentieth century, seems to have been surrounded by a defensive ditch plus a supporting bailey. It is probable the defences on the western side abutted the Roman Town walls.

 

The castle was strengthened in 1173 when the then owner, Gilbert de Montfitchet, joined the rebellion of Henry the Young King against his father. He retained his estates after the defeat of that uprising but in 1212 his grandson, Richard, rebelled against King John. Like nearby Baynard's Castle, it was destroyed by Royalist forces along with a number of other rebel owned fortifications including Richard's Mountfitchet Castle in Essex. Richard does not seem to have been deterred in his rebellion - he continued to support the Barons’ cause including compelling John to seal Magna Carta in 1215 and was one of the twenty-five Barons tasked with enforcement of the charter. Richard made peace with the Royal family after the death of King John and rebuilt his London castle shortly after.

 

Richard never married and the Montfitchet family died out with him in 1258. Like nearby Baynard's Castle, the site was purchased by the church in 1275 to form part of the new Dominican Priory that became known as Blackfriars. All traces of the castle have now gone.

 

 

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 Montfitchet Tower but its location, which was located on Ludgate Hill is freely accessible.

Montfichet's Tower. The full extent of the castile is not known but it was located on Ludgate Hill and extended to Carter Lane.

Blackfriars. A significant portion of Blackfriars Priory was built on the site of Montfichet and Baynard's Castles.  This plaque can be found on Ludgate Broadway although this was approximately 50 metres to the west of the site of Montfichet Tower.

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