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Pictures of Tonbridge Castle

a Castle in the town of Tonbridge, in the county of Kent

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About Tonbridge Castle

A fire in 1088 destroyed the first castle at Tonbridge, and the evocative remains we see today are of a later castle which was considered to be one of the finest examples of a Motte and Bailey Castle in Kent.

Little survives of its curtain walls, nor its keep but the splendid gatehouse built in the 13th-century remains remarkably intact, and serves as a stark reminder of 900 years of history involving kings, queens, archbishops, plotters and peacemakers, all of whom have dwelt within the castles once sturdy walls.

The castle was built in the 11th-century, it was further re-enforced in the 13th-century when the gatehouse was added. The deClare's were the original owners of the castle, and here they lavishly entertained Edward I. The castle reflects the friendship between the king and the de Clare's, it appears to have been modelled on Edward's great fortress at Caerphilly.

The quiet location beside the River Medway belies the castle's turbulent history. The de Clare's were a fighting breed who mostly met untimely deaths in battle. The first Richard de Clare died during a siege in Normandy, and the line died out when the last of the de Clares died in the Battle of Bannockburn. Others heirs met a similar fate. The castle passed to the Stafford family, from whence it frequently passed back and forth between the Crown and the Stafford's. Henry Stafford was executed by King Richard III, and his son was put to death by orders of Henry VIII. So the history of Tonbridge is undeniably bloody.

At the end of the Civil War the castle began to fall into disrepair, it had a series of owners, one built the spectacular Georgian mansion near the east wall of the gatehouse. However, until quite recently not a great deal was achieved. The castle is now in the ownership of Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council who have done much to protect the castle for posterity and the enjoyment of everyone.

Tonbridge Castle stands in picturesque 14-acre grounds looking benignly over the Medway. It is open all the year round and admission if free of charge. It offers a magnificent portrayal of life in the castle through exhibitions, and an Audio-Visual display tells of the castle's turbulent history. Ruinous Tonbridge Castle is both atmospheric and unique, an excellent day out for all the family.

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