Hedingham Castle, lies in the village of Castle Hedingham in the county of Essex in England.
The first castle at this site, although a timber structure, was built by a Norman baron; Aubrey de Vere I in a motte and bailey style. He had been awarded the manor of Hedingham by King William the Conqueror by 1086 after the Norman conquest of England.
The replacement of the timber structures with stone buildings, amongst which the present keep, was probably built by Aubrey de Vere II in the 1130's and 1140's. In 1152 Matilda, wife of King Stephen of England, died here.
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 the next 500 years. And the castle had many royal visitors including King Henry VII, King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I.
Hedingham Castle suffered 2 short and successful sieges. The first in 1216 by King John and the second in 1217, by the invading Prince Louis of France (later to become King Louis VIII of France).
Hedingham Castle was held by the de Vere family, who also gained the title of Earl of Oxford, until 1625. In 1713 the castle was purchased by Sir William Ashhurst, M.P. Lord Mayor of London. He landscaped the grounds and built a fine country house which was finished in 1719. In the 20th century the castle went to the Lindsay family, who are descendants of the de Veres, through inheritance.
The keep is the only medieval element of the castle to have survived; the hall, drawbridge, and outbuildings all having been replaced during the Tudor period by structures which (with the exception of a brick bridge) have now also been lost.
This is a beautiful Norman keep. It can be visited for a fee but, alas, it was closed when I came by.