Historic England has announced a grant of £283,200 to repair the 11th-century ruins of Wallingford Castle in south Oxfordshire, a once royal edifice that played a crucial role in the Norman conquest and the English Civil War.
Repair work will be carried out on the largest surviving remains of the walls of the castle, which was built on the orders of William the Conqueror between 1067 and 1071.
Following his victory at the Battle of Hastings, William the Conqueror and his invading army crossed the River Thames at Wallingford, a late Saxon burh, on his way to London to claim the throne. It was at Wallingford that an English surrender was negotiated.
The existing 9th-century Saxon earthen ramparts in the town helped to form the original wooden motte and bailey structure. From the 13th-century the castle became a royal residence, and a ‘college’ of clergy dedicated to St Nicholas was installed in the inner bailey to serve as a chantry chapel.
The castle was a Royalist stronghold during the English Civil War. However, it was demolished under the orders of Cromwell’s Council of State in 1652 to prevent it falling into the wrong hands.
Over the years, severe weathering, ivy regrowth, and vandalism have had a damaging effect on the Grade-I listed scheduled monument. It is currently on the Heritage at Risk Register.
In regards to the restoration work, Giles Pritchard, Director of Pritchard Architecture, said: ‘We will be undertaking a comprehensive survey of the stonework to assess its condition and to understand the causes of failure, to inform a detailed specification for repair and conservation.’
The first phase of repairs will focus on the remains of the college of St Nicholas, and there are also plans to install new information boards in the town centre.
Councillor Katharine Keats-Rohan of Wallingford Town Council added: ‘The castle remains bear priceless witness to the important role Wallingford has played in English history and should be a source of pride to us all. I am enormously grateful to Historic England for helping us to save them for the future.’