Wessex Attractions : Deddington Castle

Like Berkeley Castle in our last blog post, Deddington Castle was built in the aftermath of the Conquest by someone close to the Bastard (in this case his half-brother Odo, bishop of Bayeux and almost certainly the man who commissioned the famous tapestry). Unlike Berkeley, little of the castle now survives, and it remains a magnificent ruin rather than a thriving stately home.

Archaeological excavations reveal that the area was settled before the castle was built. With an enclosure 200 metres wide and ramparts 15 metres high, it must have been a powerful symbol of Norman domination in the area.

Remains of a 13th century chapel have been found on the site, and there were four fish ponds there during that period. After that, the castle went into decline, and now only earthworks remain.

The satnav postcode for the site is OX15 0TP. Many people combine it with a visit to the Rollright Stones, 10 miles away. But that’s a subject for another blog post.

Wessex Attractions: Berkeley Castle

Berkeley Castle was built shortly after the Norman invasion by William FitzOsbern, the Bastard’s guardian and counsellor; who fought alongside him at Hastings, and was subsequently made the 3rd Earl of Wessex, the only Norman to hold the title (unless the present incumbent counts). After his death in 1071, the original motte-and-bailey castle passed to one Roger de Berkeley, and subsequently to his son Roger de Berkeley and grandson Roger de Berkeley (the Normans apparently didn’t quite understand how names work).

The present castle was constructed by Robert Fitzharding in 1153, 26 years after Edward II famously died when someone inserted a red-hot poker into his plop-socket (according to Holinshed, though his account of the murder has been disputed). In the 14th century, Dickie Pearce, the last court jester in England, died after falling from the Minstrel’s Gallery, thus eliciting the biggest laugh of his career.

The castle was captured by the Parliamentarians during the English Civil War. In the 18th century, the 4th Earl of Berkeley planted a pine tree supposedly grown from a cutting taken at the Battle of Colluden.

More recently, Berkeley Castle has been used as a filming location in many historical and period dramas, such as The Other Boleyn Girl, Wolf Hall and Father Brown. It appeared in an episode of Who Do You Think You Are? when Courtney Cox traced her ancestry back to the aforementioned Edward II. It has given its name to two Royal Navy warships, and a Castle class steam locomotive owned by the GWR (and subsequently British Rail).

Today, the castle is a popular tourist attraction, open to the public between May and October and playing host to many events such as recitals of early English music, and Tudor-era re-enactments. The gardens feature many scented roses, a lily pond, and a butterfly house with 42 exotic species flying freely. Opening hours are 11am-5pm (10.30am for the gardens). Tickets are available online. The postcode, for satnav purposes is GL13 9PJ.

Barnes Day 2020

At our last meeting, we agreed to hold meetings/events on the closest Saturday to Barnes Day (22nd February), St Ealdhelm’s Day (25th May), and King Alfred Day (26th October). Barnes Day falls on a Saturday this year, and we will be meeting in Nailsea, where Barnes married Julia Miles in 1827.

Assembling at Holy Trinity Church, where the wedding took place, at 10.30 am, we will walk the heritage trail assembled by the Nailsea and District Local History Society. Printable PDF copies of the trail can be found here. The walk should take about 1½ hours, after which we will repair to the Royal Oak, the pub where Adge Cutler & The Wurzels played their first ever gig in 1966,

We hope to see you there. Directions to the church can be found on the Contact Us page.

Rhythm Section Want Ad

On behalf of the Ringwood and Burley Band, I write to enquire whether there are any readers interested in joining the Brass Band, in particular cornet and B♭ Bass players. Other musicians also welcome to apply.

The Band also seek sponsors to help cover their overheads. These could be from individuals or companies. All small or larger donations,  would be much appreciated.  For example, I have agreed to sponsor the Band’s newsletter. in return, my logo will be published. Individual sponsors, who would like their name shown, can request that when forwarding their support. Firms could send in their logo (not advertisements) and that may be used within promotional publicity such as event programmes, or the web-site.

Potential new players, please telephone Tony Mist on 01425 473542. Sponsorship/donations can be forwarded to the Treasurer, 8. Wanstead Close, Ringwood BH24 1SJ. Email queries to:- ringwoodandburleyband@mail.com

Further information can be found on their website.