The castle has played an important role in the history of Oxford and of England. The medieval remains of the castle, including the motte and St George's Tower and crypt, are Grade I listed buildings and a Scheduled Monument. [29] Matilda safely reached Abingdon-on-Thames and Oxford Castle surrendered to Stephen the next day. [62] The mixed-use heritage project, officially opened on 5 May 2006, won the RICS Project of the Year Award 2007. Artist John Baptist Malchair. 1 mill, value 0.5 [pounds]. Christ Church Cathedral (1160–1200) Many college chapels are impressive, but the Oxford college … According to the Abingdon Chronicle, Oxford Castle was built by the Norman baron Robert D'Oyly the elder from 1071–73. After the English Civil War in the late 1650s it was, like many of England’s urban castles, converted into a prison with a fearsome reputation for brutality; a reputation that endured until it ceased operation in 1996. [56], In 1785 the castle was bought by the Oxford County Justices and rebuilding began under the London architect William Blackburn. Assizes were held there until 1577, when plague broke out in what became known as the "Black Assize": the Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire, two knights, eighty gentlemen and the entire grand jury for the session all died, including Sir Robert D'Oyley, a relative of the founder of the castle. [50] The chapel and/or associated buildings are also shown, from a range of angles, in views by other artists including Samuel and Nathaniel Buck's Antiquities (drawing dated 1729),[51] a 1773 engraving included in Francis Grose's Antiquities of England and Wales, 1786,[52] a painting by Michael Angelo Rooker dating from 1779,[53] and a view by the artist John Baptist Malchair dating from 1784. Map drawn after Hassall 1971, p.2; Tyack, p.6, p.80. As detailed below, the crypt of this chapel still survives, albeit in a new location within the castle, having been moved and reconstructed from its original materials in 1794. Little now remains of Oxford Castle, which was built for William the Conqueror in 1071, and largely destroyed after the English Civil War because the defeated Royalists had used it as a prison. [12] There has been debate over the sequencing of the motte and the bailey: it has been suggested that the bailey may have built first (thus utilising the pre-existing St. George's Tower as the first keep) which would make the initial castle design a ringwork rather than a motte and bailey. According to the Historia Ecclesie Abbendonensis (Abingdon Chronicle),[1] Oxford Castle was built by the Norman baron Robert D'Oyly the elder from 1071–73. [3] In due course D'Oyly became the foremost landowner in Oxfordshire and was confirmed with a hereditary royal constableship for Oxford Castle. (2009),[19] who comment that "a single, massive stone tower does not seem to belong within the outer defences of an earth-and-timber castle", and other sources have concurred on architectural grounds, also noting that its orientation does not match that of the remainder of the castle, and that its height would have originally afforded an extensive view over the city, but which would have been superseded (and in fact, blocked) with the construction of the castle motte. [32], In the Barons' War of 1215–17 the castle was attacked again, prompting further improvements in its defences. [16][17][18] Evidence that this tower is Saxon in origin and thus pre-dates the castle itself is presented in Poore et al. It was a typical early Norman design with solid pillars and arches. The site today is occupied by the local prison. ";[6] the mill mentioned is presumably the Castle Mill, formerly adjacent to the still surviving St. George's Tower, rebuilt in 1781 before eventually being demolished in 1930. [42] A map of the castle prepared for Christ Church College in 1615 shows the keep on its mound, St. George's Tower with associated buildings and sections of the curtain wall remaining to the north and south, and the next tower to the south, plus a single remaining tower to the north-east, as well as the Castle Mill and a southern entrance to the castle complex;[43][44] according to this map, by 1615 houses and their gardens had been built up to over half of the Castle Ditch or moat, which appears to still contain water. [34] The remaining wooden buildings were replaced in stone, including the new Round Tower which was built in 1235. Built by the Normans in the 11th century for William the Conqueror, Oxford Castle has been in almost continuous operation for 1,000 years. In fact, it stopped being a castle during the reign of Henry VIII and it became a full-scale prison, which operated until 1996, with the last hanging happening in the middle of the ’50s. Robert d’Oilly was appointed the first Norman governor of Oxford and was responsible for building Oxford Castle, of which all that remains is the motte (mound) and the tower of the Church of St. George in the castle. [61] In 1888 national prison reforms led to the renaming of the county prison as HM Prison Oxford. 1073: Within a few years of its creation, Robert d’Oilly built the first stone fortifications, including a stone keep which stood proudly on the top of the mound. In due course D'Oyly became the foremost landowner in Oxfordshire an… [20][21][22] The date of the remaining towers is uncertain although the southernmost, round tower, of which the base still remains, is dated to 1235 in various documentary sources, including Woolnoth's The Ancient Castles of England and Wales of 1825; in at least one source, it is referred to as "Henry III's Tower".[23]. [42], After the Civil War, Oxford Castle served primarily as the local prison. The tour of the historic buildings takes in the Saxon stone-built St. George’s Tower, the atmospheric Norman crypt, the preserved Georgian prison wing and the man-made mound, with breath-taking birds'-eye views of the city. Built in 1071 by Robert d'Oilly, Oxford Castle was in existence as a prison up until as recently as 1996. The surviving rectangular St George's Tower is now believed to pre-date the remainder of the castle and be a watch tower associated with the original Saxon west gate of the city. The castle was built on the west side of the Saxon town that had offered resistance to … Trevor Rowley then described Oxford Castle. [65] As at 2018, guided tours of the surviving medieval and 18th century portions are available to visitors via a commercial operator, Heritage Projects (Oxford Castle) Ltd, with opening hours and pricing available via their website. Orford Castle is a castle in Orford in the English county of Suffolk, 12 miles (19 km) northeast of Ipswich, with views over Orford Ness. Artist: Henry Taunt, Oxford Council: Historic Urban Character Area 12: Castle and Periphery - Oxford Castle, Signboard from Oxfordshire County Council on Oxford Castle Site, Anglo-Saxon Oxfordshire: Norman Oxford (Ashmolean Museum), Plan of Oxford Castle (provenance unknown), View of Oxford Castle, 1769 (www.alamy.com), The North View of Oxford Castle (sandersofoxford.com), Oxford Castle, Oxfordshire, from Francis Grose's, View of Castle Hill, Oxford by Michael Angelo Rooker (1746–1801), from Oxfordshire County Museums Service, Oxford Castle and the Castle Mound, 27 May 1784. ", Booth, Paul, et al. The prison was closed in 1996 and the site reverted to Oxfordshire County Council. The keep stands within the earth-bank remains of the castle's outer fortifications. Oxford Castle, Oxford, Oxfordshire Owned by: Oxfordshire County Council Large, partly ruined Norman medieval castle. [35] King Henry III turned part of the castle into a prison, specifically for holding troublesome University clerks, and also improved the castle chapel, replacing the older barred windows with stained glass in 1243 and 1246. Poore, Daniel, Norton, Andrew and Dodd, Anne (2009). History Hit brings you the stories that shaped the world through our award winning podcast network and an online history channel. In 1642 the English Civil War broke out and the Royalists made Oxford their capital. Poore et al. [33] The castle became the centre for the administration of the county of Oxford, a jail, and a criminal court. [31] At the end of the war the constableship of Oxford Castle was granted to Roger de Bussy before being reclaimed by Henry D'Oyly, Robert D'Oyly the younger's son, in 1154. Most of the castle was destroyed in the English Civil War and by the 18th century the remaining buildings had become Oxford's local prison. The college then leased it to a number of local families over the coming years. In 1611 King James I sold Oxford Castle to Francis James and Robert Younglove, who in turn sold it to Christ Church College in 1613. [25] Robert had died in the final weeks of the siege and the castle was granted to William de Chesney for the remainder of the war. Most of the original moated, wooden motte and bailey castle was replaced in stone in the late 12th or early 13th century and the castle played an important role in the conflict of the Anarchy. [66], St George's Tower, Oxford Castle, viewed from the Castle Mill Stream. The development of Oxford Castle began in 1071 when, having fought alongside him during the Norman Conquest of 1066, Robert d’Oilly built Oxford Castle for William the Conqueror. Although it was never a castle of the first rank as a royal or seigneurial stronghold, it was an … Tyack, p.8; Hassall 1976, p.235; MacKenzie, p.149; Davies, pp.91–2. *SPOILER ALERT* When a prisoner was ‘sent down’ it meant he or she was sent down a tunnel leading from the County courtroom into Oxford Prison. Heritage Projects (Oxford Castle) Ltd Registered in England No: 5763243 Registered Office: St. Edmund's House, Margaret Street, YORK, YO10 4UX MacKenzie, p.149; Gravett and Hook, p.44. Built in 1071, Oxford Castle was an imposing fortification with one of the largest mottes in the country. [46] In 1652, in the third English Civil War, the Parliamentary garrison responded to the proximity of Charles II's forces by pulling down these defences as well and retreating to New College instead, causing great damage to the college in the process. The Castle was strategically positioned near to the river, on the western edge of the existing Saxon town defences. Oxford Castle and Prison Guided Tour (From $18.37) City Sightseeing Oxford Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour (From $22.54) Oxford Private Guided Walking Tour (From $350.31) Improve your confidence in speaking English on 2-weekend courses in Oxford, UK. Built by the Normans in the 11th century for William the Conqueror, Oxford Castle has been in almost continuous operation for 1,000 years. (eds) (1979) Victoria County History: Gravett, Christopher and Adam Hook. D'Oyly had arrived in England with William I in the Norman Conquest of England and William the Conquerorgranted him extensive lands in Oxfordshire. [29], Finally in December, Matilda responded by escaping from the castle; the popular version of this has the Empress waiting until the Castle Mill Stream was frozen over and then dressed in white as camouflage in the snow, being lowered down the walls with three or four knights, before escaping through Stephen's lines in the night as the king's sentries tried to raise the alarm. The original 11th century earthwork mound was added to with stone fortifications and a stone keep and in 1074, St George’s Chapel was built. [45] Ingoldsby improved the fortification of the castle rather than the surrounding town, and in 1649 demolished most of the medieval stonework, replacing it with more modern earth bulwarks and reinforcing the keep with earth works to form a probable gun-platform. The castle had several owners between the 14th and 18th centuries. "Oxford Archaeological Resource Assessment 2011 - Norman (1066-1205). A new prison complex was built on the site from 1785 onwards and expanded in 1876; this became HM Prison Oxford. 1 of 7 - 20180808_Oxford_MaxDoyle_s02_0257_b87fe4c5_6f1e_4355_a042_c4e83674391e.png [7][a], D'Oyly positioned his castle to the west side of the town, using the natural protection of a stream off the River Thames on the far side of the castle, now called Castle Mill Stream, and diverting the stream to produce a moat.