Baynard's Castle

Baynard's Castle
Part of the Fortifications of London
Blackfriars, London, England, UK
Baynards Castle the outfall of the Fleet Ditch. Wellcome L0006919.jpg
The first Baynard's Castle
Baynard's Castle is located in City of London
Baynard's Castle
Baynard's Castle
TypeCastle, later mansion
Site history
BuiltBefore 1017
Garrison information
OccupantsEnglish royalty

Baynard's Castle refers to buildings on two neighbouring sites in the City of London, between where Blackfriars station and St Paul's Cathedral now stand. The first was a Norman fortification constructed by Ralph Baynard and demolished by King John in 1213. The second was a medieval palace built a short distance to the southeast and destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666. According to Sir Walter Besant, "There was no house in [London] more interesting than this".[1] The original castle was built at the point where the old Roman walls and River Fleet met the River Thames, just east of what is now Blackfriars station. The Norman castle stood for over a century before being demolished by King John in 1213. It appears to have been rebuilt after the barons' revolt, but the site was sold in 1276 to form the precinct of the great priory of Blackfriars.

About a century later, a new mansion was constructed on land that had been reclaimed from the Thames, southeast of the first castle. The house was rebuilt after 1428, and became the London headquarters of the House of York during the Wars of the Roses. Both King Edward IV and Queen Mary I of England were crowned at the castle.

The house was reconstructed as a royal palace by Henry VII at the end of the 15th century, and Henry VIII gave it to Catherine of Aragon on the eve of their wedding. After Henry's death the house came into the hands of Catherine Parr's brother-in-law, the Earl of Pembroke who built a large extension around a second courtyard in about 1551. The Pembroke family took the side of Parliament in the Civil War, and after the Restoration the house was occupied by the Earl of Shrewsbury, a Royalist. Baynard's Castle was left in ruins after the Great Fire of London in 1666, although fragments survived into the 19th century. The site is now occupied by a BT office called Baynard House, but the castle is commemorated in Castle Baynard Street and the Castle Baynard ward of the City of London.

Norman castle

Today the River Fleet has been reduced to a trickle in a culvert under New Bridge Street that emerges under Blackfriars Bridge, but before the development of London it was the largest river in the area after the Thames. It formed the western boundary of the Roman city of London and the strategic importance of the junction of the Fleet and the Thames means that the area was probably fortified from early times.[2] Richard of Cirencester suggests that Canute spent Christmas at such a fort in 1017, where he had Eadric Streona executed.[3] Some accounts claim this was triggered by an argument over a game of chess; Historian William Page suggests that Eadric held the fort as Ealdorman of Mercia and after his death it may have been granted to Osgod Clapa, who was a "staller", a standard-bearer and representative of the king (see Privileges section).[3]

This fort was apparently rebuilt after the Norman invasion by Ralph Baynard, a follower of William the Conqueror and sheriff of Essex.[4] It was on the riverfront inside the Roman walls; a second Norman fort, Montfichet's Tower was 70 metres (230 ft) to the north.[5] The site of Baynard's Castle was adjacent to the church of St. Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe, on the southern side of 160 Queen Victoria Street (the former Times office and now The Bank of New York Mellon Centre); archaeologists have found fortifications stretching at least 50 metres (160 ft) south, onto the site of the proposed development at 2 Puddle Dock.[5] This may be the Bainiardus mentioned in the Domesday Survey (1087) who gave his name to springs near Paddington called Baynard's Watering, later shortened to Bayswater.[6]

The castle was inherited by Ralph's son Geoffrey and his grandson William Baynard, but the latter forfeited his lands early in the reign of Henry I (1100–1135) for supporting Henry's brother Robert Curthose in his claim to the throne.[7] After a few years in the hands of the king, the castle passed to Eustace, Count of Boulogne by 1106.[7] John Stow gives 1111 as the date of forfeiture.[8] Later in Henry's reign, the lordship of Dunmow and honour or soke of Baynard's Castle were granted to the king's steward, Robert Fitz Richard (1064–1136).[7] The soke was coterminous with the parish of St. Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe, which was adjacent to the Norman castle;[9] the soke roughly corresponds to the eponymous ward of the City of London.[10] Both Dunmow and Baynard's Castle were eventually inherited by his grandson, Robert Fitzwalter[7] (d. 1234).[11]

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