The Tunnels of Hertford

Site Map

Hertford Castle


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.

The Norman motte

Hertford Castle Gatehouse

The Norman Motte

The Castle Gatehouse