Oxford Castle and Prison History is a fascinating story of how one of England’s most iconic castles has served as both a fortress and a prison over the centuries. Oxford Castle, situated in the city of Oxford, has a long and varied history that dates back to the 11th century. The castle has seen many uses, from a royal residence to a prison, and has been the site of many significant events in English history. This article will explore the castle’s history, as well as its transformation from a royal residence to a prison.
Early History of Oxford Castle
Oxford Castle was first constructed in 1071 by Robert D’Oyly, a Norman baron. It was originally a wooden motte-and-bailey castle, with a large mound of earth and a wooden palisade around it. The castle was an important stronghold for the Normans, and was used to protect the city of Oxford from attacks. It also served as a royal residence, with King Henry I and Queen Matilda staying there in the 12th century. Over the next few centuries, the castle was continually improved and expanded, with a stone curtain wall, a stone keep, and a great hall being added.
The Transformation to a Prison
By the 16th century, the castle had ceased to be used as a royal residence and was instead used as a prison. It was used to house both local criminals and political prisoners, and was a harsh and unforgiving place. The castle was also the site of some of the most notorious executions in English history, such as the execution of James Scott, the 1st Duke of Monmouth, in 1685. During the 19th century, the castle was used to house French prisoners of war, and it was not until the 20th century that the prison was finally closed.
The Castle Today
Today, the castle is open to the public as a tourist attraction. Visitors can explore the castle grounds, as well as visit the castle’s museum, which tells the story of the castle’s history. The castle also hosts a number of events, including jousting tournaments and historical re-enactments. Visitors can also take a tour of the old prison cells, which have been preserved in their original state.
Oxford Castle has a long and varied history, and has been a royal residence, a fortress, and a prison over the centuries. Today, the castle is open to the public as a tourist attraction, and visitors can explore the castle grounds and visit the castle’s museum. The castle is also the site of some of the most notorious executions in English history, and visitors can take a tour of the old prison cells, which have been preserved in their original state.