Hertford was founded in 913AD when Edward the Elder established two burghs or settlements
on either side of the River Lea (or Lee). This was one of the few safe places for
many miles to cross the river and is how Hertford is said to have got its name from
the harts (or deer) who came to drink the water from the ford.
It was not until the arrival of William the Conqueror who began to build large earthen
mounds topped by a strong wooden tower, and later of stone that what we have come
to know as the motte and bailey castle was established. All that remains now is an
earthern mound (see right)
The motte became the keep which was the last refuge of the defenders against attack.
The bailey referred to the area inside the castle walls.
The cost of improvements and repairs were continuous entries in the records of Hertford
Castle from this date until the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1. It remained a royal castle
although leased to loyal subjects and every monarch had at one time stayed there.
Hertford is a short journey from London and offered good facilities for hunting,
riding, falconry and other country pursuits; a description that would not be too
far out of place today.
A new gatehouse was built on the foundations of the old one using larger bricks that
had come into fashion by the 1530’s. Elizabeth was the last monarch to live at Hertford
Castle and its usage in future centuries was as a private house following the sale
by Charles 1 to William Cecil, 2nd Earl of Salisbury in 1628.
All that now remains is the gatehouse (bottom right) constructed by Henry VIII, the
Norman motte (top right) and sections of the outer wall.
Previous ... Introduction Next ... Bayley Hall
These pages offer a brief resume of the full version in ebook format with recent
research and more photographs.