The 110-foot tall keep of Hedingham Castle still towers above the landscape of modern day England. Surrounded by trees and an open green stretching away from the main entrance stairway, the Norman keep stands as the last remnant of a once magnificent medieval castle.
Home to the de Vere family for five centuries, Aubrey II first built the castle in 1140. Aubrey’s father, Aubrey de Vere, was one of William the Conqueror’s most loyal knights, and he fought with William at the Battle of Hastings. In return for his service, William granted Aubrey lands in several counties, including Middlesex. The de Veres were a rich and powerful family in medieval England, and Hedingham had the privilege of entertaining royal guests over the years such as King Henry VII, King Henry VIII, and Queen Elizabeth I.
Queen Matilda dubbed Aubrey III the 1st Earl of Oxford. The 2nd Earl, also Aubrey, fought with Richard the Lionheart, and Robert, the 3rd Earl, sided with the barons against King John, eventually forcing him to sign the Magna Carta in 1215.
The de Veres fought at other important battles throughout history, including: the siege of Caerlaverock, the Battle of Crecy, the Battle of Poitiers, the Battle of Agincourt, and Bosworth.
The Archbishop of Canterbury served as the architect of Hedingham Castle, and to this day, a member of the de Vere family still owns it.
“Explore the History: The de Vere Family.” Hedingham Castle. http://www.hedinghamcastle.co.uk/history.htm (accessed June 25, 2009).
“Castle Hedingham: Keep.” Ancient and Medieval History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?
ItemID=WE49&iPin=AMH278&SingleRecord=True (accessed June 25, 2009).
*image retrieved from http://www.castlexplorer.co.uk