For the purpose of this web page, the medieval era covers the period between the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. During this time England experienced wars, extensive castle building, social changes, a new legal framework, crusades, the Black Death, construction of great abbeys and monasteries and development of the English language.
Aside from developments in language and literature, England is well endowed with an extensive physical legacy of themedieval period which principally comprises castles, abbeys and monasteries, cathedrals and battlefields.
The listing below does not purport to be exhaustive but illustrative of the possibilities for inclusion in a customised tour which may appeal to visitors with a wide range of interests in the medieval era.
→Battle Abbey: Located on site of Battle of Hastings, 1066. Original 11th century structure was largely replaced in the 13th century. A ruin since the 16th century but substantial parts of the structure remain.
→Battle of Hastings: The site is located at Battle, East Sussex. It was here on October 14th 1066 that King William of Normandy defeated the Saxon, King Harold. A transforming event in the history of England.
→Bosham Church: A medieval church with Saxon origins and features. Connected to King Canute and King Harold. This church is represented in the Bayeaux Tapestry.
→Battle of Bosworth: A defining event which occurred on August 22nd, 1485. The forces of Henry, Earl of Pembroke defeated those of the incumbent, King Richard III. The victor was crowned as King Henry VII, an event which ushered in the Tudor era.
→Canterbury Cathedral: This is the centre of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Built on an ancient Christian site.The current building dates from the 11th century and features various architectural styles including: Norman, Perpendicular and Gothic. Inside is one of the oldest pieces of stained glass in Britain, dating from c.1176. Thomas Becket was murdered here in 1170.
→Canterbury Castle: One of the oldest castles in Britain, dating from time of the Norman Conquest ( 1070) and Henry I (1100-1135). Incorporates Roman era masonry in the structure. A ruin since the 17th century.
→Castle Rising: An impressive 12th century castle which is substantially intact. Built by William D’Albini and used by the Black Prince in later years. Owned by the Howard family since 1544.
→Durham Cathedral: Completed about 1226 . This is one of the greatest churches ever built. Architecture style is Norman or Romanesque. Until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1540, Durham Cathedral was the church of the local Benedictine Monastery.
→Evesham Abbey: Formerly under the Benedictine order, this abbey rose to be one of the wealthiest. However, it was effectively demolished after the Dissolution in 1540. The Bell Tower is the only remaining structure of substance. Simon de Montfort is buried beneath the site of the High Altar. The burial location is marked by a memorial stone.
→Battle of Evesham: Here, on August 4th 1265 took place a battle between the forces of Simon de Montfort and Prince Edward at which the latter prevailed.
→Fountains Abbey: Built 1132 by Benedictines who were in occupation until dissolution in 1539. In the intervening period the fortunes of the community waxed and waned, reaching a peak of prosperity in the 1200s.
→Leicester Cathedral: As a Norman church has a history dating back 900 years. Enlargement undertaken in 13th and 15th centuries followed by extensive restoration and rebuilding in Victorian times. Known as the Church of St. Martin until awarded Cathedral status in 1927. A memorial to Richard III was installed in 1980.
→Lincoln Cathedral: First consecrated 1092. Was subject to extensive rebuilding and repair work in 12th and 13th centuries. One of the most impressive and important medieval buildings in Europe.
→Lincoln Castle: Dates from the Norman Conquest of 1066 but on a site dating back to Roman times. Inside is one of the four remaining original copies of the 1215 Magna Carta. The building has been used as a court and prison for about 900 years.
→Ludlow Castle: Built in the 11th century by Roger de Lacey from when until abandonment in the 17th century the castle was a major power base. Used by Edward IV and Mary Tudor. Saw action in the Wars of the Roses.
→Middleham Castle: Constructed in the 12th century by Robert Fitzrandolph. During the 15th century was used by powerful lords such as Salisbury, Warwick and Richard, Duke of Gloucester, later King Richard III. Fell into disrepair after Richard’s defeat at Battle of Bosworth in 1485. The building was slighted on orders of Parliament in 1646.
→Oxford Castle: Built 1071 by Robert d’Oilly incorporating older, Saxon features. Played a major role in the civil war between Stephen (1097-1154) and Matilda (1102-67). Was subject of a siege in the 17th century, English Civil War. For most of its existence the castle was used as a prison.
→Rievaulx Abbey: Founded 1132 by a contingent of Cistercian monks. Was subject to a major building programme in 1160s at which time the Abbey reached a peak of prosperity. Dissolved by Henry VIII in 1540s.
→Salisbury Cathedral: One of the most important and significant ecclesiastical buildings in England. Built 1220-1258 in Early English Gothic style. The tower and spire were added in the 14th century. Inside the Chapter House is one of the four original copies of the Magna Carta, a ‘bill of rights’ dating from 1215.
→Stokesay Castle: A 13th century, fortified manor house located close to the Welsh Border. A fascinating architectural time capsule. Includes a Great Hall.
→Wallingford Castle: Built 1067-1071 by Robert D’Oyley. A major power base on the banks of the River Thames near Oxford. During the medieval period was used by the Empress Matilda, Prince Richard, Queen Isabella, and the Black Prince. During the 17th century, English Civil War the castle was used as a Royalist stronghold and was later demolished.
→Winchester Cathedral: Dates from 1093, albeit on a Christian site dating from the 7th century. Closely associated with St. Swithun. The Nave was remodelled in Perpendicular Style in the 14th century. Due to the high water table the ancient crypt of this famous Cathedral is subject to flooding.
→Worcester Cathedral: Dates from 1084 and became a major centre of learning in medieval times. Textbooks from the medieval period are contained within the Cathedral’s library.There is also strong musical tradition which continues to this day. Here can be found an interesting diversity of medieval architecture, viz: Norman period ( 11th-12th centuries); Transitional Norman ( late 12th century); Early English (13th century); Decorated style (early 14th century); and Perpendicular style ( late 14th century).
→York Minster: The building dates from 1080-1110 on a site which dates back to Roman times. Current structure dates from 1220 subsequent to which there has been additional building and rebuilding. The Minster (cathedral) was subject to two serious fires in the 19th century and another fire in 1984. A magnificent building and popular visitor attraction.
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