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Berkeley Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Sharpness; Ness; Betthone; Berkelai; Barkley; Berkley

In the civil parish of Berkeley.
In the historic county of Gloucestershire.
Modern Authority of Gloucestershire.
1974 county of Gloucestershire.
Medieval County of Gloucestershire.

OS Map Grid Reference: ST685989
Latitude 51.68870° Longitude -2.45688°

Berkeley Castle has been described as a certain Timber Castle, and also as a certain Masonry Castle.

There are major building remains.

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.

Description

Castle keep, with curtain wall and inner bailey. Late C11, altered mid C12 and mid C14. Original circular keep to north west begun cl067 by Fitz Osborn, Earl of Hereford, with base of shell keep remaining of this period. Shell keep enlarged 1153, Curtain wall to east and south built 1160-90, including walls of Great Hall, and altered to south west in C14. The whole castle is in an original and good state of preservation and retains most original features down to doors, arrow slits and windows, iron catches etc. Interior completely remodelled 1340-50 by Thomas, Lord Berkeley, although the work of this period only survives in the inner bailey. Remained largely unaltered until 1920s when 8th Earl of Berkeley modernised and altered the interior and installed many artefacts from elswhere, for example fireplaces, stained glass. Local pink, grey and yellow Severn sandstone, roofs mainly in Cotswold stone slate or lead, scattered ashlar flues, singly and in groups, cylindrical or polygonal. Scattered fenestration, mostly stone mullion and transoms, some latticed. Keep retains cell said to have been site of murder of Edward II in 1327, and semi-circular dungeon about llm deep. Wall breached to north west in 1645 during siege by Cromwell's troops. Curtain wall includes the following main rooms: Great Hall, with mid C14 ceiling of 8 bays and tiered windbracing, wooden screen of C15 brought from Wales in 1920s and retaining original painted decoration, C15 stone fireplace said to have come from Wanswell Court (q.v.), very fine examples of linen- fold panelling on oak doors, and several examples of the "Berkeley Arch" - polygonal with 4 or more straight sides enclosing a cusped inner arch. Hall said to have been site of meeting of West Country Barons before going to Runnymede to sign Magna Carta. Screens passage at east end has 3 Berkeley arches and leads to service area retaining hexagonal kitchen with 3 fireplaces and original medieval star timber roof, and Bakehouse spanned by 2 large flat stone arches; upstairs the Morning Room, former Chapel of St. Mary until 1923, has cusped arcades and retains painted ceiling decoration of John Trevisa's 1387 translation of Book of Revelation; Long Drawing Room, containing C15 wooden gallery originally in Chapel with projecting bay carved with arms of Henry VII; Little Drawing Room, originally accessible from Long Drawing Room only via projecting octagonal lobby on inner wall, has very fine ceiling of many closely set large chamfered cambered beams. Private apartments of Berkeley family beyond, round to gatehouse adjoining Keep on west side. (Listed Building Report)

Late 11th century castle rebuilt in the mid 12th century with 13th century and mid 14th century alterations. Excavations in 1938 have located much of the castle's layout including walls and buildings. Castle keep, with curtain wall and inner bailey. Late 11th century, altered mid 12th century and mid 14th century . Original circular keep to north west begun circa 1067 by Fitz Osborn, Earl of Hereford, with base of shell keep remaining of this period. Shell keep enlarged 1153, Curtain wall to east and south built 1160-90, including walls of Great Hall, and altered to south west in 14th century . The whole castle is in an original and good state of preservation and retains most original features down to doors, arrow slits and windows, iron catches etc. Interior completely remodelled 1340-50 by Thomas, Lord Berkeley, although the work of this period only survives in the inner bailey. Remained largely unaltered until 1920s when 8th Earl of Berkeley modernised and altered the interior and installed many artefacts from elsewhere, for example fireplaces, stained glass. Local pink, grey and yellow Severn sandstone. (PastScape)

It has been incorrectly suggested that a Royal licence to crenellate was granted in 1153 (Click on the date for details of this supposed licence.).

Comments

The surrounding medieval water features have now been lost but would have produced, as at a number of other castle sites, a very impressive vista.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape   County HER       Listing   I. O. E.
Maps >
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 22/04/2016 20:28:15

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