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Berkeley Castle – Sightseeing Tours

Elizabethan gardens surround the castle, they include Elizabeth I’s bowling green and a pine that is believed to have grown from a cutting taken in 1746 at the battle of Culloden

There has been a castle at Berkeley since 1067. The original Motte and Bailey building was redeveloped in the early 1100’s. In 1152 the third generation of the original family who were all called Roger de Berkeley, was dispossessed of the castle in favour of Robert Fitzharding for failing to support the Plantagenets. Fitzharding was a wealthy Burgess of Bristol, and founder of the family who still occupy the castle today.

King Henry II issued a warrant to Fitzharding in 1153 – 1154 permitting him to rebuild the castle with the aim of providing defense for the Gloucester Road (Bristol), the Severn Estuary and the Welsh border.

In 1326 the castle was ransacked by by the forces of Hugh Despenser, the favourite of King Edward II. The Queen and her ally Roger Mortimer deposed Edward in 1327. They installed Thomas de Berkeley and his brother in law, John Maltravers as his  joint custodians. Edward was taken to Berkeley castle and imprisoned for five months between April and September. In that period a group of Edwards supporters attacked and rescued him. He was later recaptured and returned to the castle in September.

It is believed that Edward was murdered there on 21st September, 1327. How he was murdered is not actually known. The cell in which he was murdered and the adjacent 36ft deep dungeon can still be seen.

The report given to Parliament at the time said that Edward had met with a fatal accident. Thomas was cleared of the murder and Edwards body was eventually buried in Gloucester Cathedral.

The castle was captured by Colonel Thomas Rainsborough in 1645 during the English Civil War. However the Berkeley family were allowed to remain the owners.

After the fortresses of Windsor castle and the Tower of London, Berkeley castle is the oldest castle that has been continuously occupied, it is also the longest owned and occupied by the same family. Berkeley castle has been used frequently for TV filming, including The Other Boleyn Girl and the childrens TV series, The Ghost Hunter.

 

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Registered office

  • 71 Chedworth
  • Yate
  • Bristol
  • BS37 8RZ
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