Dudley Castle - History and Facts | History Hit

Dudley Castle

Dudley, England, United Kingdom

Dudley Castle is a ruined Norman motte and bailey castle which is now open to visitors and also hosts the popular Dudley Zoo within its grounds.

Lily Johnson

15 Apr 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Dudley Castle

Dudley Castle is a ruined Norman motte-and-bailey castle that was once home of the Dudley family, to which Elizabethan favourite Robert Dudley belonged. It is now open to visitors and also hosts the popular Dudley Zoo within its grounds.

Dudley Castle history

Originally built in the 11th century, Dudley Castle was constructed by Ansculf de Picquigny, a Norman noble of William the Conqueror, who designed it in the motte-and-bailey style. Over the centuries it was rebuilt and extended, particularly in the mid-16th century when under the ownership of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland.

Dudley was beheaded for his attempt to set Lady Jane Grey on the throne after the death of Edward VI, and Dudley Castle was given to his relatives in the Sutton family who had previously owned it. Dudley’s son Robert would later become a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I, and in 1575 she visited Dudley Castle, where it was considered as a possible place to imprison Mary, Queen of Scots.

The castle was held by the Royalists during the English Civil War and was besieged by Parliamentarian troops in 1644 and 1646, before it was at last surrendered on May 13, 1646. As with many Royalist strongholds of the time, the Parliamentarian forces later ordered the castle to be slighted, leaving much of it in ruins. In 1750 it saw further damage when a fire raged through the complex, finally gutting the once-magnificent palace. Never rebuilt, Dudley Castle became the picturesque ruin we see today.

Dudley Castle today

Today the castle forms part of Dudley Zoo, with its atmospheric ruins open to the public. The 9-metre Norman motte and its 13th-century keep may be explored, where the remains of its two drum towers survive. The Sharington Range may also be viewed, built in 1540 by John Dudley, as well as the castle’s chapel and great chamber.

Living demonstrations and re-enactments are often performed at the site, as well as bird-of-prey displays and open-air music concerts. Another of the castle’s popular attractions is its eery ghost walk, that explores the hauntings of the Grey Lady at the site.

A visitor centre is also situated within the grounds that explores the site’s fascinating 900-year history, and includes a virtual recreation of how the castle looked in 1550.

Getting to Dudley Castle

Dudley Castle is located in the centre of Dudley on the A461 (Castle Hill), 3 miles from M5 Junction 2. Access to the car park is via Tipton Road. Dudley Port train station is 3 miles away with frequent bus services into Dudley, while Dudley Bus Station is a 2-minute walk to the site.