Bedford Castle

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte), and also as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are masonry footings remains

NameBedford Castle
Alternative Namescastrum Bedefordie; castello de Bedford
Historic CountryBedfordshire
Modern AuthorityBedfordshire
1974 AuthorityBedfordshire
Civil ParishBedford

A motte and bailey castle erected c. 1100-1130; the castle sustained sieges in 1132, 1137, 1145 and 1153 prior to its demolition in 1224; this was thoroughly carried out and only a portion of the motte remains with a slight section of its surrounding ditch, together with a second mound to the north - now covered with buildings. (PastScape)

Bedford Castle occupied a far larger space than appears from the present remains, for the outer bailey extended along the river front to where a postern and causeway communicated with an island, and followed the line of High Street where it touches the bridge, the whole area being enclosed by a moat. (PastScape–Ref. VCH Vol. 2)

Although officially a royal castle, it was in the custody of the Beauchamp family throughout C12. In 1215, William de Beauchamp joined the rebellion against King John, and the castle was captured by Fawkwes de Breaute, who held it for the next 9 years. The castle was greatly strengthened with John's approval, during the course of which the parish church was demolished because it overlooked the ward, its materials being used to build the castle towers and walls. In 1224, Breaute refused to surrender the castle to the young King Henry III and broke into open rebellion. Following a 2 month long siege, the castle was captured in August 1224 and ordered to be levelled. Following this slighting, it ceased to have military significance. (PastScape–ref. HKW)

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTL052496
Latitude52.1353912353516
Longitude-0.463330000638962
Eastings505260
Northings249680
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Copyright Alexander P Kapp and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.

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Books

  • < >Petre, James Scott, 2012, The Castles of Bedfordshire (Lavenham: Lavenham Press for Shaun Tyas) < >
  • < >Oetgen, Jeremy, 2012, 'The Search for Bedford Castle' in James Scott Petre (ed), The Castles of Bedfordshire (Lavenham: Lavenham Press for Shaun Tyas) p. 37-51 < >
  • < >Inglis, Jim, 2012, 'Blood, Bowls and Beer – Bedford Castle' in James Scott Petre (ed), The Castles of Bedfordshire (Lavenham: Lavenham Press for Shaun Tyas) p. 22-36 < >
  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 44, 180, 253
  • Purton, P.F., 2009, A History of the Early Medieval Siege c. 450-1220 (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press) p. 324, 326-7
  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of The Thames Valley and The Chilterns (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 12
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 3
  • Higham, R. and Barker, P., 1992, Timber Castles (Batsford) p. 134, 355
  • Drage, C., 1987, 'Urban castles' in Schofield, J. and Leech, R. (eds) Urban Archaeology in Britain (CBA Research Report 61) p. 117-32 online copy
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 4-5
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 185-6
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 104-105
  • Colvin, H.M., Brown, R.Allen and Taylor, A.J., 1963, The history of the King's Works Vol. 2: the Middle Ages (London: HMSO) p. 558-9
  • Farrar, C.F., 1936, Old Bedford p.27-31, 39-50
  • Wadmore, Beauchamp, 1920, The Earthworks of Bedfordshire (Bedford) p. 87-93
  • Page, Wm (ed), 1912, 'The borough of Bedford: Castle and barony' VCH Bedfordshire Vol. 3 p. 9-12 online transcription
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Page, Wm (ed), 1908, VCH Bedfordshire Vol. 2 p. 24-28
  • Goddard, A.R., 1906, The Great Siege of Bedford Castle (Bedford)
  • Goddard, A.R., 1904, 'Ancient Earthworks' in Doubleday, H.Arthur and Page, Wm (eds), VCH Bedfordshire Vol. 1 p. 285-6
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1897, Castles of England Vol. 1 p. 136-8 online copy
  • Clark, G.T., 1884, Mediaeval Military Architecture in England (Wyman and Sons) Vol. 1 p. 217-23 online copy
  • Timbs, J. and Gunn, A., 1872, Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales Vol. 2 (London) p. 280-3 online copy
  • Lysons, D. and S., 1806, Magna Britannia Vol. 1 p. 43-6
  • Blyth, T.A., 1873, History of Bedford p.10-30

Antiquarian

  • Speed, John, 1611-12, The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain online copy
  • Camden, Wm, 1607, Britannia hypertext critical edition by Dana F. Sutton (2004)
  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England (Sutton Publishing) p. 20, 21, 24
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1910, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 5 p. 8 online copy

Journals

  • Richard Nevell, 2014-15, 'Castles as prisons' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 28 p. 203-224
  • 2009, South Midlands Archaeology: CBA Group 9 Newsletter Vol. 39 p. 8
  • 2005-6, 'Bedford Castle' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 19 p. 127-9
  • Oetgen, J., 2005, 'A regeneration issue: Bedford Castle Mound' The Archaeologist Vol. 57 p. 12-14
  • Oetgen, J., 2003, South Midlands Archaeology: CBA Group 9 Newsletter Vol. 33 p. 1 online copy
  • Amt, E., 2002, 'Besieging Bedford: military logistics in 1224' Journal of Medieval Military History Vol. 1 p. 101-24
  • 2000, South Midlands Archaeology: CBA Group 9 Newsletter Vol. 30 p. 90 (saxon period) online copy
  • 1991, South Midlands Archaeology: CBA Group 9 Newsletter Vol. 21 p. 21 (destruction) online copy
  • 1988, South Midlands Archaeology: CBA Group 9 Newsletter Vol. 18 p. 14-15 (siege 1224) online copy
  • 1987, South Midlands Archaeology: CBA Group 9 Newsletter Vol. 17 p. 7-8 online copy
  • 1986, South Midlands Archaeology: CBA Group 9 Newsletter Vol. 16 p. 28 online copy
  • Baker, David, 1983, South Midlands Archaeology: CBA Group 9 Newsletter Vol. 13 p. 3 online copy
  • Baker, D., 1982, 'Mottes, Moats and ringworks in Bedfordshire: Beauchamp Wadmore revisited' Château Gaillard Vol. 9-10 p. 35-54
  • Youngs, S.M. and Clark, J., 1981, 'Medieval Britain in 1980' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 25 p. 200 download copy
  • Baker, D. et al, 1979, 'Excavations in Bedford, 1967-1977' Bedfordshire Archaeological Journal Vol. 13 esp p. 7-64 (almost whole volume dedicated to castle excavations) online copy (large file)
  • 1978, South Midlands Archaeology: CBA Group 9 Newsletter Vol. 8 p. 27, 36 online copy
  • 1977, South Midlands Archaeology: CBA Group 9 Newsletter Vol. 7 p. 43 (siege 1224) online copy
  • (Baker) in Webster, L.E. and Cherry, J., 1973, 'Medieval Britain in 1972' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 17 p. 159 download copy
  • Baker, David, 1973, 'Bedford Castle, Some Preliminary Results from Rescue Excavations' Château Gaillard Vol. 6 p. 15-21
  • Baker, D., 1973, 'Bedford, Bedfordshire' South Midlands Archaeology: CBA Group 9 Newsletter Vol. 3 p. 28 (siege 1224) online copy
  • Kennett, D.H., 1972, Bedfordshire Archaeological Journal Vol. 8 p. 139 online copy (large file)
  • Baker, David, 1972, 'Bedford' South Midlands Archaeology: CBA Group 9 Newsletter Vol. 2 p. 23 online copy
  • (Baker) in Webster, L.E. and Cherry, J., 1972, 'Medieval Britain in 1971' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 16 p. 179 download copy
  • Kennett, D.H., 1971, Bedfordshire Archaeological Journal Vol. 7 p. 89 online copy (large file)
  • Baker, David, 1971, 'Bedford Castle, Beds.' South Midlands Archaeology: CBA Group 9 Newsletter Vol. 1 p. 15 online copy
  • (Baker) in Wilson, D.M. and Moorhouse, S., 1971, 'Medieval Britain in 1970' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 15 p. 145 download copy
  • (Baker) in Wilson, D.M. and Hurst, D.G., 1970, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 14 p. 175 download copy
  • Kennett, D.H., 1969, 'Bedfordshire Archaeology, 1966-69' Bedfordshire Archaeological Journal Vol. 6 p. 85 online copy (large file)
  • Brown, R. Allen, 1959, 'A List of Castles, 1154–1216' English Historical Review Vol. 74 p. 249-280 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 90-121) p. 90-121 view online copy (subscription required)
  • Fowler, 1920, Bedfordshire Historical Records Society Vol. 5 p. 117-32 (history of siege)
  • Clark, G.T., 1889, 'Contribution towards a complete list of moated mounds or burhs' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 46 p. 197-217 esp. 199 online copy
  • Elwes, D.G.C., 1874, Reports and Papers of the Associated Architectural Societies Vol. 12 p. 243-60 online copy
  • Clark, 1868, The Builder Vol. 26 p. 689-90 (reprinted in Medieval Military Architecture)
  • C.H.H(artshorne), 1861, Bedfordshire Architectural and Archaeological Society Part 9 p. 129-43, Part 10 p. 157-60
  • Hurst, 1850-1, Reports and Papers of the Associated Architectural Societies Vol. 1 p. 381-91

Primary Sources

  • Sewell, R.C. (ed), 1846, Gesta Stephani, Regis Anglorum et Ducis Normannorum p. 32 online copy (The newer edition and translation by Potter, K.R. (ed), 1976 (2edn), Gesta Stephani (Oxford University Press) should be consulted for serious study. See also Speight, S., 2000, 'Castle Warfare in the Gesta Stephani' , Château Gaillard Vol. 19 [see online transcription > http://web.archive.org/web/20101229213751/http://www.deremilitari.org/resources/articles/speight.htm])
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1901, Calendar of Patent Rolls Henry III (1216-25) Vol. 1 p. 29 view online copy
  • Stevenson, J. (ed), 1875, Radulphi de Coggeshall Chronicon anglicanum (Rolls Series 66) p. 206
  • Hardy, T.D. (ed), 1833, Rotuli litterarum clausarum in turri Londinensi asservati (Record Commission) Vol. 1 p. 632, 654
  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 89

Other

  • Fradley, Michael, 2011, The Old in the New: Urban Castle Imposition in Anglo-Norman England, AD1050-1150 (University of Exeter PhD Thesis) available via EThOS
  • Albion Archaeology, 2001 (edited January 2005), Extensive Urban Survey - Bedfordshire and Luton (Bedfordshire County Council and English Heritage) Download copy