Hadleigh Castle

Did you know the remaining tower at Hadleigh castle was the smallest of four, with the one north of it twice its height?

Hadleigh Castle is a local gem. In 1215 King John gave this area of land, known as the manor of Hadleigh, along with many other gifts, to Hubert de Burgh. Hubert was a trusted follower of the king, and was the custodian of the two important castles at Windsor and Dover. Hubert built this large turreted castle as a statement of his power. His successful career came to an end after quarrels with the king, and he was forced to return his lands, including Hadleigh in 1239.

Hadleigh Castle was built on geologically unstable clay. There were already problems in 1274, when it was said to be ‘badly built and decayed’. Subsequent land slips have moved the south wall of the castle and caused the collapse of most of the north-east tower.

The castle as it may have appeared in about 1370, at the end of a ten year programme of refurbishment. Edward III spent large sums of money on a new gateway and high tower, lodging chambers and a chapel. The east front was transformed with the addition of two impressive towers. The castle was surrounded by parkland and possibly a garden or orchard near the entrance.

Below we can see images of a led melting point from the mid 16th century.

Photographs from 2011:

Hadleigh Castle 100 Years Ago – When the North-East Tower Remained

After flicking through a 1930′s guidebook to Southend and the surrounding area, i found a few interesting pictures of Hadleigh castle, taken prior to 1930. They show the north-east tower in almost as good condition as the ‘big one’ (south-east) which remains today, and is seen as the main part of the castle, even though this is just one of the original four which have crumbled away now.

This aerial image shows the tower to the top-left in almost as good condition as the top-right one which remains in full glory today

This image again shows the North-East tower in far better condition than it remains today

One of the four towers, the one to the South-West, remains in part down the hill in the bushes. A clear line from the hill can be seen as to where a landslide occurred, sending the southern wall of the castle down the hill’s side. In it’s day, the portion of the castle amongst the shrubbery would have stood flat on the grassy area of the hill like the rest of it does today. The North-West tower exists as only the first floor, used as a kitchen, which can be found as a flat area of the castle’s concrete/stone on which it is a popular seating area. The castle was doomed for collapse almost as soon as it was built. It began to fall down under 100 years of it standing, despite being used for many centuries!


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