The fabric of the Castle has been much changed over the hundreds of years since it was built, one of these being the 16th century Elizabethan dwelling attached to the northern outer bailey gate-house tower.
The tower keep is 12th century, but has been later modified. The outer gatehouse is no doubt the work of Sir Fulk Fitzwarine of the early 13th century and above the archway can be seen his coat of arms.
Looking at the remains of this once extensive Marches Castle one wonders why this particular site was chosen. In most cases castles had natural defensive features to prevent easy access for attacking forces, such as a river, steep cliffs or deep moat. The highest land in the village, Pen-y-bryn, would have given excellent views towards Offa’s Dyke, over which the Welsh raiders frequently invaded English territory. It was protection provided by the treacherous marshlands surrounding the site which was the decisive factor in its choice for the first earthworks and wooden Castle.
William Peverel built the Norman Motte and Bailey Castle after the demolition of the previous stronghold built at the time of King Offa, probably of wood with a stockade of sharp posts.
William Peverel had no male heir so his eldest daughter Mellet inherited the Castle. The victor of a tournament for her hand in marriage was Warin de Metz of Lorraine who founded a long line of Fitzwarines. They held the Castle until 1420.
Much of the remains of the keep date from a rebuilding in 1222. The outer gatehouse with two towers had a 42 foot long drawbridge leading to the drier land to the east.
During the civil war it was loyal to the Royalists until Oliver Cromwell’s Roundheads took it by force in 1643. At the time of Queen Mary II ownership of the Castle was granted to Fitz-Alan, Earl of Arundel. Later it was sold to Francis William Albany Esq, a London merchant whose manor and estate was Fernhill. When his granddaughter Sarah married Thomas Lloyd Esq of Aston the two estates were united.
So to the last joint owners Mrs A Hamilton-Hill and the Lady Newborough of the Lloyd lineage. The Castle is now owned and run by the local community of Whittington.
The Castle has an interesting history potentially spanning approximately 3000 years.
A number of distinct phases in the history and development of the Castle and the Castle site are beginning to emerge.
Possible late pre-historic enclosure
Possible Saxon settlement
Rebuilding of the keep in stone by Fulk Fitzwarine 111 circa 1222
Creation of the medieval garden
Building of the Elizabethan cottage
The decline of the Castle and the removal of stone for road and house building
The Lloyd family
20th century uses
Recent repairs to the Castle and grounds
The most prominent features of Whittington Castle are its two imposing gatehouse towers.
17th Century Cottage
Built into the North gatehouse tower is this 17th century cottage which is a grade 1 listed building.
Key features such as the great hall, keep, well and dovecote are still evident today.
Whittington Castle was defended by a ring of earthworks which are best appreciated from the aerial photographs in our recent examinations suggest they may be as much as 3000 years old.
It has recently been established that this was the site of a garden in medieval times.
The Castle would have been defended by a moat system. Only a couple of pools remain to remind us that this was once a water defended Castle. These are now home to waterfowl such as swans, coots and ducks. If you keep your eyes peeled you may catch site of a pike lurking in the waters.
This mound was originally thought to be the motte on which a wooden bailey may have been built and which predated the stone structure visible today. However current thinking is that it was a prospect mount or viewing platform from which one could admire the medieval garden.
Access to the inner bailey was by a drawbridge.
White Lion public house
This popular village pub is within the area of the scheduled monument.
Understanding the Castle as we see it today necessitates the peeling away of all these layers. The Trust is indebted to English Heritage who have sponsored Peter Brown Associates to undertake a research project which is revealed new and exciting insights into the Castle’s history.