Join us for a wander around a rare example of an early Norman medieval fortification here at Eynsford Castle.
The castle itself was constructed on the site of an earlier Saxon building and began with the building of an impressive curtain wall that dominates the view in front of us; the curtain wall was built between 1085-1087 with its first owner of the castle being William de Eynsford I, who was a knight and sheriff of Kent. And By the late 11th or early 12th century the castle had gone through a fairly rapid expansion, with additional defences being added and buildings created within the curtain wall, the wall was elevated and a door tower was constructed to fortify the castle. The castle consists of a simple enclosing wall around an inner cluster of buildings that are reached by a drawbridge across a shallow moat.
One of the first views we see when looking around is the remains of three Garderobe or in more modern terms known as toilets, can be seen built into the thickness of the walls, they would have been emptied directly into the moat below. There would have been timber outbuildings between the Garderobe and the kitchen.
There was no central keep or tower and the most impressive part of these 11th century additions was undoubtedly the Great Hall. There are a pair of under crofts in the hall, one of those was used mainly for storage, and the other was a rather posh solar or a self-contained living area complete with living quarters, a Garderobe and a fireplace, this separate apartment would have been used by the castle bailiff. On the first floor would have been the main hall and the accommodation for the lord of the castle. The hall was then expanded in the 13th century with the addition of a separate fore building. Although early on in the same century the building was badly damaged by a fire. When the damage was repaired a brand new kitchen was built to serve the hall and apartments, keeping everything close knit, the new kitchen is just behind the great hall on the right hand side. Excavations have also revealed that the windows had glass in which indicates the high status of the owners.
On the far left of the site here at the castle, are foundations of the well, this was the castle main water supply and the kitchen block which was built between 1150-1175, and this kitchen remained in use until the castle was abandoned after 1312. The building has been interpreted as a domestic dwelling rather than a defensive keep.
For our paranormal friends, some sightings of a ghostly black monk have been reported, a strange black shrouded figure stands in the background of the castle that was snapped by a tourist whilst visiting here, searches have since been done with paranormal investigators, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of evidence suggesting who this ghostly monk could have been, although that’s more a reason for you to go investigate if you wanted too. Other stories include people having cold spots in the earthworks of the empty moat, again this is all open to interpretation but we’ll leave it to the professionals.
The Eynsford family line died out and the castle became part of a disputed inheritance. This led to an attack in 1312 by one of the claimants and substantial damage was caused to the castle. Strangely, in less than one hundred years the castle was to be left empty and a period of decay set in. The estate was later sold to the owners of Lullingstone Castle – the Hart family in the early part of the 16th-century and In the 18th-century, the heirs of this family used Eynsford as a base for hunting, parts became stables and kennels. When in the 19th-century it was decided to proceed with preservation work, it was found to be all too late, the ravages of time had won and the once proud fortress lay in desolate ruin.
The site has seen natural decay but there has been virtually no plunder of the ruins for building materials and it’s now been left to the English Heritage, what’s great about visiting Eynsford is the fact that it’s free to enter and is open at all reasonable times, we again got lucky visiting here and we had the place to ourselves on a beautiful day. It won’t take long exploring the site but there is plenty to see and marvel at if you enjoy medieval castles, I think what makes it so interesting is the enclosure layout is different from the typical motte and bailey Norman plans as well as some of the buildings inside themselves. Mostly people use the castle nowadays to walk their dogs or just go for a wander, but I can imagine back in its day this castle was quite an unexpected yet impressive castle to live in.
Till next time!