England, United Kingdom.
Whittington Castle stands north of Oswestry in northern Shropshire, England. People have been living on this site for over 2000 years, in the fields beyond the castle grounds can be seen Iron Age earthworks, perhaps a small defended farmstead with families living in roundhouses protected by ditches and a timber pallisade. The village of Whittington lies on the English side of Offa's Dyke, which in this area was the Norman boundary between England and Wales. The castle of Whittington may have begun as a Norman manor house before being fortified as a castle for William Peverel, in 1138, in support of Empress Matilda against King Stephen, nephew of King Henry I, and claimant to the throne during The Anarchy. In the late 1140s, the lordship of Whittington, like Oswestry and Overton ceased to be part of England and became part of in the Kingdom of Powys and then became Welsh marcher lordships.
In 1165 Henry II conferred the castle on Roger de Powis, to whom he gave funds for its repair in about 1173. Roger was followed by his son Meurig (or Maurice), he was followed by his son Werennoc. A rival claim from Fulk Fitzwarine III (who apparently claimed it under the Peverels) was not recognised until 1204, leading him to rebel against King John. However, he was pardoned for this and granted the castle and lordship of Whittington, (though not Overton Castle at Overton-on-Dee, Flintshire). The castle then descended in the FitzWarin family, all called Fulk, until the death of Fulk XI in 1420.
The castle was captured and destroyed by Llywelyn ab Iorwerth of Gwynedd in 1223. It was returned under the peace treaty, and was rebuilt in stone, replacing the tower keep of a motte and bailey with inner bailey with buildings along a curtain wall and five towers on a raised platform surrounded by a moat, beyond which there is an outer gatehouse or barbican. For the next half century, the castle stood as a bastion defending Shropshire from invasion by the Welsh, until the conquest of Wales by Edward I in 1283. After the defeat of Llewelyn ap Gruffydd, the castle became a lordly residence for the FitzWarin family. However, after the death of Fulk VII in 1349, the castle went through a long period when the lords were almost always under age and usually absentees. Though some repairs were carried out in about 1402. The lordship was laid waste in 1404 during the rebellion of Owen Glendower, so that the lordship was worth nothing in 1407. However, the castle was not captured.
It had been occipied during the minority of Fulk XI by his mother and her new husband William Lord Clinton, during whose time there was a dispute with the people of Oswestry who had cut down oak trees in his woods. When the FitzWarin line died out in 1420, the lordship passd to Fulk XI's sister Elizabeth, who married Richard Hankeford. In 1422, the castle was captured by escalade by William Fitzwaryn and Richard Laken, but evidently soon restored to Lord Clinton. Their daughter Thomasia married William Bourghchier, thus carrying the FitzWarin peerage into the Bourchier family. Their grandson John Bourchier was made Earl of Bath, but his son John Bourchier, 2nd Earl of Bath exchanged the lordship and castle in 1545 with Henry VIII, for some former monastic estates nearer the main family home in Devon.
A detailed survey of the castle was made at the time of the exchange. This describes some of the buildings as 'in decay'. The castle itself was probably never inhabited again. It passed through various hands to William Albany, a London merchant taylor, but he and his descendants lived in Fernhill Hall. William's grandson, Francis Albany, fell into debt and sold his wood in Babbinswood to Arthur Kynaston of Shrewsbury, who built a forge at Fernhill, using stone from the castle. In 1632, the Castle Gatehouse was let, the tenant being allowed to take 'freestone out of the castle'. By the time of the English civil war, Whittington Castle was evidently no longer defensible and there is no evidence that it played any role in that war. In 1673, the castle (or rather the gatehouse) was let as a romantic dwelling to one Thomas Lloyd, a London merchant, probably retired. About 1760, one of the towers fell into the moat. This and other parts of the castle were used to make roads, probably including the new turnpike road to Ellesmere in 1776.
Restoration of the gatehouse took place in about 1808 under William lloyd who let it as a farmhouse. This continued to be occupied as a house until the 1990s. Whittington Castle and the 12-acres of land on which it stands is currently owned on a 99-year lease from 2002 by the Whittington Castle Preservation Trust, a rural community formed in December 1998. In 2003, a historical and archaeological investigation by Peter Brown and Peter King identified that the outer bailey of the castle had been two elaborate gardens and surrounded by water in the 14th century. This discovery was significant in that it proved the advanced state (as compared to those of the French or Flemish) of English gardening habits. The "lavish" garden was installed by Fulk Fitzwarine and his wife Eleanor transforming the castle from fortress to palatial home. The viewing mound that stands in the centre of this garden may be the oldest of its type yet discovered in England.
The Fulk Fitzwarin Romance
The Fulk Fitzwarin Romance tells that as a young boy, Fulk was sent to the court of King Henry II, where he grew up with the future King John. John became his enemy after a childhood quarrel. As an adult, Fulk was stripped of his family's holdings, and took to the woods as an outlaw. His wife was Maud le Vavasour. The story may combine aspects of the lives of two Fulk FitzWarins, father and son, who lived in the late 12th and early 13th centuries. The tale of Fulk FitzWarin has been noted for its parallels to the Robin Hood legend and its similarity to other medieval outlaws such as Eustace the Monk and Hereward the Wake. Fulk Fitzwarin II is included in the stained glass window at St Laurences Church, Ludlow.
The traditional story of his life survives in a French prose "ancestral romance", extant in a miscellaneous manuscript containing English, French and Latin texts, which is based on a lost verse romance. A 16th century summary of a Middle English version has also been preserved.
The Marian Chalice
Graham Phillips in his book 'Magdalene, The Search for the Cup That Held the Blood of Christ' suggest Whittington castle as the once resting place of the Marian Chalice.
Like the Holy Grail, the Marian Chalice was a vessel that was said to have held the blood of Christ and was believed to have been hidden in Britain. These similarities between the two stories suggest that they both had the same origin. However, there is also another relationship between the two vessels. Like the Grail, the Marian Chalice was linked with the story of King Arthur and his knights. In the Arthurian story, the Grail is kept in a secret chapel in a fortress called the White Castle, in a place known as the White Town. In the thirteenth century an English knight called Fulk Fitz Warine claimed to posses the Marian Chalice. Although he did not specifically refer to it as the Holy Grail, his historical claim to have owed it may have inspired the Arthurian Grail romances of the Middle Ages. Fulk’s castle, built from light-colored stone, was known as the White Castle, and the town where the castle still stands is called Whittington – the old English for ‘White Town’.
The Cursed Chest
Recently removed from the castle, little is known about this impressive object, its connection with the Castle and the Owners. The cursed chest, said to be Elizabethen in age, is a large, dark, wooden chest approximately 5'x3'x3' and weighing about 10cwt. Locked and shut tight it is said to bring about a grusome death to those who would dare open it - the key lies lost in the depths of the castle moat.
It is said that visitors to the castle have heard the voices of children around the gatehouse and on occasion seen the ghostly faces of two children staring out of the gatehouse tower windows, their faces contorted with pain and agony. Legend says that the children were heirs to the castle but perished in great pain after the Elizabethan chest was opened, others say the two children were locked in the chest, suffocating to death - perhaps their bones remain locked inside!
Other accounts strange phenomena include white mists and balls of light appearing from nowhere. The shadowy form of a man has been observed in the gatehouse area and odd unexplained noises heard . A night watchman reported the appearance of a lone horseman in ancient costume. A ghostly courting couple have been seen from time to time wandering the castle grounds, they are said to be Lord Faulk and Lady Hawise who never succeeded to own the castle!
Whittington Castle: LINK
Small photo-gallery of Whittington Castle: LINK
Fouke le fitz waryn by Michael Rosen: LINK