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Tonbridge Castle

Tonbridge Castle

The Stone Castle we see today stands on the north side of the river Medway was not the first to be built. When Richard Fitzgilbert came to Tonbridge after the battle at Hastings there was a mound already there from the Saxons. William ordered that a large wooden castle should be built and to extend the mound. The castle would have been built from the trees from the large Oak Forest that surrounded Tonbridge

 

The castle was built in a design known as 'motte and bailey'. The motte was a circular mound of earth. On its flattened top within a timber fence was a timber tower. To one side of the motte was the bailey, walled enclosure surrounded by a ditch. Within the bailey was a hall, domestic building, stables and stores.

 

After a battle in 1088 the wooden castle was destroyed by fire. A new Castle was built using the yellow sandstone taken from a local quarry know known as Quarry Hill, the castle would have took many years to build it was completed around 1220. A very large ditch or dyke was built around the Castle also called a fosse for the town people to build houses and keep animals it was also used as defence and a boundary. Some of these names still exist today like in the town Bordyke and Fosse bank.

 

This is a drawing of the castle in 1230 built with the yellow sand stone . 

 

This is an Arrow head shot from a long bow found in the clay bed in the river in front of the curtain wall. Was it shot at soldiers trying to take the castle? 

Over the years the castle had so many owners one being a man called Thomas Hooker who from 1741 – 1781 sold large quantities of the stone for buildings around the town like Tonbridge School. The town was becoming more popular and stone was used for the widening of the river at Tonbridge to carry coal and timber, also to build a new bridge and lock.

 

 

This picture is before 1791 you can see people taking the stone away from the castle to be used for other buildings in the town. In 1898 the castle was sold to the Tonbridge urban district council. I like going in the castle and trying to imagine what it would have been like when it was used as a proper castle with soldiers inside and people living there.

In 1791 Thomas Hookers son John Hooker had the Mansion built on the side of the castle to live in, this is the building we see today now the Council chambers and Tourist information centre.

Inside the castle today you can see a time capsule that was put in the wall in the year 2000 to celebrate the millennium. It is to be opened in 100 years time, I was four at the time and drew a picture to go inside the capsule.

The Castle is a very nice place to visit and  in the summer they have lots of fetes and parties on the lawn and if you go to the top of the towers you can see across the whole of the town.

Tonbridge now has around 36000 people that live in the town that is because 1 or 2 cave men came and said “I like this place and I will make it my home”. So more and more people came to live in Tonbridge.