About Ludgershall Castle
Ludgershall Castle was a royal castle and hunting lodge. Today, its ruins and earthworks stand in the modern village of Ludgershall and are believed to date back to the twelfth or thirteenth century.
Ludgershall Castle history
Ludgershall Castle was built in the late 11th century by Edward of Salisbury, sheriff of Wiltshire. The castle became royal property around 1100, managed by John the Marshal who was the custodian on behalf of the king. Marshal fortified Ludgershall, adding the northern enclosure containing the most important buildings, constructed with stone. The southern enclosure or bailey contained timber buildings such as the castle farm, stables and kitchens.
In 1220, King John, brother of crusader-king Richard the Lionheart, repaired and improved the castle, updating the buildings as a residence to take advantage of the nearby forests for hunting. His son, Henry III, inherited the property and visited at least twenty-one times, further improving Ludgershall into a luxurious residence, including a great hall for entertaining built in 1244, and royal apartments.
From 1317, the castle was referred to as ‘the king’s manor’ and was passed to successive monarchs until around the 14th and 15th centuries when it was visited less so that by the 1540s, the buildings had been dismantled and levelled over to form a garden. The tower remained as a garden feature.
Ludgershall Castle today
Today, a modern farm lives in the middle of the castle outlined by two enclosures. Because much of the original structure was built with timber from nearby woodland, Savernake, little remains except stone foundations.
However, the tower is still prominent and has survived from the 12th century. What remains in the northern exposure was excavated in the 1960s and 1970s, was Henry II’s great hall of 1244 and the royal apartments. You can walk along a terrace overlooking the park besides where the royal residences would have stood in the 13th century.
In nearby Ludgershall, be sure to visit the 14th century Ludgershall Cross, now ring-fenced by metal bars. Originally presiding over a marketplace in the small town, the medieval sculpture depicts the resurrection of Jesus. It was likely an act of royal patronage by King Edward III, who often visited Ludgershall, establishing a focus for religious procession and trade.
Getting to Ludgershall Castle
Ludgershall is located off the A303 at Andover. There is a small free car park on Castle Street 50m or on St James Street in the town centre.