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Hedingham Castle

Aubrey de Vere was one of William the Conqueror's most favoured knights. After the Battle of Hastings he was given land in many counties including Middlesex where he owned Kensington and Earls Court. His son Aubrey II built a huge castle at Hedingham c.1140, 110 feet high with walls 12 foot thick, using the Archbishop of Canterbury as his architect. Aubrey III was created Ist Earl of Oxford by Queen Matilda and the castle remained the stronghold of the de Veres for 550 years. The Norman keep with its magnificent banqueting hall and minstrels' gallery is now the only remaining evidence of this great medieval castle and its later extensive Tudor buildings. The immensely rich and powerful de Veres were one of the most important medieval families who, as Lord Great Chamberlains, gave loyal service and military leadership to their kings and queens for over 500 years. Hedingham had many royal visitors including King Henry VII, King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I.
The Earls of Oxford were great crusaders and Aubrey, 2nd Earl fought with Richard Coeur de Lion and Robert, 3rd Earl was one of the barons who forced King John to sign the Magna Carta in 1215. The following year Hedingham Castle was besieged by King John, and again by the Dauphin of France in 1217. The de Veres were commanders throughout history and featured at the Siege of Caerlaverock and the famous battles of Crecy, Poitiers, Agincourt and Bosworth. John, 15th Earl took part in the Battle of the Spurs and accompanied King Henry VIII at the Field of the Cloth of Gold, and as Lord Great Chamberlain bore the crown at Anne Boleyn's coronation. John, 16th Earl escorted young Elizabeth from Hatfield to London for her coronation in 1559 and his wife Margery became her maid of honour. In 1561 Queen Elizabeth I aged twenty-eight stayed at Hedingham from August 14th-19th, and Edward, 17th Earl, became one of her favourites and was acclaimed to be the best of the courtier poets.

The Castle is still owned by one of the descendants, The Honourable Thomas Lindsay and his wife Virginia. There are four floors to explore, including a magnificent Banqueting Hall spanned by a remarkable 28 foot arch, one of the largest Norman arches in England. A good view of this splendid room can be obtained from the Minstrels' Gallery,
A visit to the castle and its beautiful grounds is ideal for a family outing, and during the summer there are a variety of special events which bring its colourful history alive. Come and enjoy one of the exciting Jousting Tournaments or other entertainments.

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Hedingham Castle

Address: Bayley Street, Castle Hedingham, Essex. CO9 3DJ.

Telephone: 01787-460261.

Fax: 01787-461473.

Email: mail@hedinghamcastle.co.uk.

Website: www.hedinghamcastle.co.uk.

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