Donnington Castle

Donnington Castle

Castle Lane, Newbury, United Kingdom.The imposing 14th century gatehouse of Donnington Castle stands on the crest of a high hill overlooking the Lambourn Valley, across the river from the market town of Newbury. The castle was built in 1386 by Sir Richard Abberbury to control a major road junction and river crossing.The Abberburys had held the manor of Donnington from 1287. Sir Richard was a veteran of the Hundred Years War, and fought with Edward, The Black Prince, at the important battles of Crecy (1346) and Poitiers (1356). In 1386 he received a license to crenellate from Edward's son, Richard II.Abberbury's castle was fairly typical for the time, and was composed of a rectangle with high curtain wall enclosing the hilltop site, with four rounded corner towers, two square towers in the centre of the longest walls, and a gatehouse flanked by tall, rounded towers. With the curtain wall was a courtyard with secondary buildings set against the inside of the wall. These courtyard buildings were likely built of timber, and consisted of a hall, kitchen, and guest quarters. Because they were built of timber very little evidence of these buildings remains inside the wall.The most famous owner of Donnington was Thomas Chaucer, son of the poet Geoffrey Chaucer, who held the castle in the early 15th century. Ownership later passed to the crown, and several monarchs are known to have stayed here, including Henry VIII (1539) and his daughter Elizabeth I (1568).In 1643, at the height of the Civil War, Donnington was held for Parliament by John Packer. Charles I sent Sir John Boys with 200 soldiers and 25 horsemen to capture the castle. Boys was successful, ands set about strengthening the defenses to withstand a seige. He raised a star-shaped earthwork at the base of the castle hill, with gun emplacements on the points of the star.The castle was attacked and relieved several times over the period 1644 to 1646, twice by the king himself. 

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