An earl’s tower

In the first of two ar­ti­cles on this great cas­tle, John Goodall looks at the me­dieval de­vel­op­ment of the site and the re­mark­able his­tory of the keep

Country Life Every Week - - My Favourite Painting Ann Christopher - Pho­to­graphs by Paul High­nam

Hed­ing­ham Cas­tle, Es­sex, part I The home of Ja­son and Deme­tra Lind­say

of Ox­ford in suc­ces­sion from him died more than 550 years later.

There is no doc­u­men­tary ev­i­dence to date the tower at Cas­tle hed­ing­ham, but the case for as­so­ci­at­ing it with his earl­dom is com­pelling. It is sig­nif­i­cant, more­over, that its ar­chi­tec­tural in­spi­ra­tion comes not from Nor­wich, but from the south-east of eng­land, al­most cer­tainly a re­flec­tion of Wil­liam’s con­nec­tions with Lon­don.

The tower was laid out on a square plan with mas­sive walls about 12ft thick and rises to a height of about 100ft, the bench­mark mea­sure­ment of a me­dieval sky­scraper. It is faced with beau­ti­fully cut blocks of lime­stone from Bar­nack in Northamp­ton­shire and, as an­other mark of qual­ity and ex­pense, in­cor­po­rates richly carved ar­chi­tec­tural or­na­ment, in­clud­ing chevrons or zigzags (Fig 1). even the plinth from which the whole struc­ture rises is del­i­cately moulded, an ex­tra­or­di­nary ex­trav­a­gance.

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