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 Castles of England - Carisbrooke Castle

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Carisbrooke, Isle of Wight, England

Carisbrooke Castle is located in the village of Carisbrooke, near Newport on the Isle of Wight. The castle enclosure has a number of buildings, some of them in ruins. The rooms used as the official residence of Princess Beatrice when she was the Governor of the Isle of Wight are in good repair. You can climb the steps to the top of the keep. The Great Hall, Great Chamber, and several smaller rooms are open to the public. Most rooms are partly furnished and feature original fireplaces.

There is a chapel next to the main gate. In 1904 the chapel of St Nicholas in the castle was reopened and re-consecrated, having been rebuilt as a national memorial of Charles I. There is a 200 foot deep well within the walls, and another well in the centre of the keep that is said to have been even deeper. One of the attractions is the 16th century well-house with a working donkey wheel that is still operated by donkeys.

The Constable's Chamber was the bedroom of Charles I when he was imprisoned in the castle, and it was used by Princess Beatrice as a dining room. It is now the education center. The castle is surrounded by earthworks completed in the 1590s, and the outer gate is dated 1598. There is a holiday apartment inside of the castle, in converted staff quarters.

The site was an Anglo-Saxon stronghold as early as the 8th century. A wall was built around the structure around 1000 to defend it against Viking raids. After the Norman invasion, William Fitz Osbern built a motte-and-bailey castle within the existing defences. In 1100 Carisbrooke was granted to Richard de Redvers. The keep was added to the castle in the 13th century. The castle was sold by the Richard de Redvers family to Edward I in 1293. The castle held out against an unsuccessful attack by the French in 1377.

The castle defences were further reinforced in the 16th century by the addition of a pentagonal fortification. Charles I was imprisoned at Carisbrooke Castle for fourteen months before his execution in 1649.

Princess Beatrice, daughter of Queen Victoria, lived in the castle between 1896-1944 as the governor of the Isle of Wight. It is now under control of English Heritage.

The Arts
The well in Carisbrooke Castle is the hiding place of the Mohune diamond, in the 1898 adventure novel Moonfleet, by J. Meade Falkner.

Other Castles in the Area
  Portchester Castle, Hampshire
  Southsea Castle, Hampshire

Southsea Castle
Looking over the main grounds of the castle from the northwest corner of its surrounding wall. The Norman keep is in the background, at the far end of the wall.

Photograph by Chris Downer. Some rights reserved.  (view image details)

Southsea Castle
Looking from the southern wall of the Castle into the centre of the Castle grounds.

Photograph by Paul Collins. Some rights reserved.  (view image details)

Southsea Castle
Gatehouse, Carisbrooke Castle

Photograph by Philip Halling. Some rights reserved.  (view image details)

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