Wilton Castle was probably raised in the late eleventh century as a motte-and-bailey fortification. It was rebuilt in stone during the thirteenth century by Roger de Grey. The castle was de-fortified in the late sixteenth century but this didn’t prevent it being slighted fifty years later during the Civil War.
Wilton Castle is located on the northern bank of the River Wye. It was a site of strategic importance in the medieval era as it guarded a bridge over the River Wye which carried the Gloucester and Hereford road. At the time of the Norman Conquest it was owned by Harold II and was still in Crown ownership at the time of the Domesday survey. It is not certain who raised the first castle on the site but it was probably built in the latter half of the eleventh century.
The first castle on the site was an earth and timber motte-and-bailey fortification. The motte was probably located adjacent to the bridge. It would have been topped with a timber palisade and/or tower. The bailey, which was probably divided into inner and outer wards, probably occupied the remainder of the current castle site. The castle was mentioned in the Pipe Rolls in 1188 and 1204, on both occasions it was held by Hugh Longchamp.
By the end of the thirteenth century it was in the hands of Roger de Grey who started rebuilding it in stone. The most prominent feature was a twin towered gatehouse. A large Solar block in the south-west corner was directly adjacent to the Great Hall. The stone curtain wall formed an irregularly shaped enclosure. There were towers in the north-west and north-east corners and a tower projecting from the eastern curtain wall.
In the late sixteenth century the southern portion of the castle was demolished and a mansion house was built in its place which effectively made the structure undefendable. Nevertheless, during the Civil War it was attacked and burnt by the Royalist garrison of Hereford despite the best efforts of the then owner, Sir John Brydges, to remain neutral. The mansion was left a ruin but in the nineteenth century a new house was built on the site which remains inhabited today.
Douglas, D.C and Rothwell, H (ed) (1975). English Historical Documents Vol 3 (1189-1327). Routledge, London.
Emery, A (1996). Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Johnson, P (2006). Castles from the Air: An Aerial Portrait of Britain’s Finest Castles. Bloomsbury, London.
King, C.D.J (1983). Castellarium anglicanum: an index and bibliography of the castles in England, Wales and the Islands. Kraus International Publications.
Liddiard, R (2005). Castles in Context: Power, Symbolism and Landscape 1066-1500. Macclesfield.
Salter, M (2000). Castles of Herefordshire and Worcester. Folly Publications, Malvern.
Williams, A and Martin, G.H (2003). Domesday Book: A Complete Translation. Viking, London.
Wilton Castle is a private residence with no public access. However, the ruins can be seen from the adjacent public right of way.
Wilton Castle. The castle as seen from the east. The fortification has a broadly rectangular footprint enclosure with the sixteenth century house (and later extension) standing on the site of the original twin-towered gatehouse, Solar Tower and Great Hall.
Private. Wilton Castle remains a private residence with no public access.
East Tower. There were D-shaped towers in the north-west and north-east corners and eastern side of the curtain wall. There was probably originally a further tower in the south-east corner. The Solar Tower occupied the South-West corner.
Gatehouse. The remains of the gatehouse.
Wilton Bridge. The current bridge dates from the sixteenth century but is the successor to a medieval one.
Ross-on-Wye. Wilton Castle is in close proximity to Ross-on-Wye, a historic market town. The Bishops of Hereford had a (now vanished) fortified palace in the town. The Gothic town walls seen today were constructed in 1833 to increase tourism.
Wilton Castle is found just off the B4260 Wilton Road. The castle is a private residence with no access but there is a public car park on Wilton Road and the ruins can be seen from a right of way accessed just across Wilton Bridge.
Car Parking Option
Wilton Road, HR9 7BY