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Hockey: two victories and a good draw for Marlborough ladies with the first's win judged as 'magnificent'

25-11-2017 Vicky Moxham

  Gillingham         0       Marlborough     2   The squad set off at the crack of dawn for an early push back away in Dorset. Not having met Gillingham before and teams level on points in the league, the scene was set for a competitive match neither side wanted to lose.

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Naming of names

23-11-2017 David Sherratt

Sirs, Marlborough's Town Mayor is right in advising his fellow councillors to reconsider their well-intentioned suggestion that roads on the new Redrow development off Salisbury Road should carry the family names of those Marlborough men who returned home at the end of the First World War after serving with British forces.In...

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What is the real price of a parking space? A share of £25,000?

23-11-2017

With all the discussion in Marlborough about parking - its availability and especially its cost - and Wiltshire Council’s consultation on its intention to raise parking charges,  it was to say the least interesting to spot this estate agent's board in North Street Pewsey.  

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St John’s is Alive with the Sound of Music!

23-11-2017 Sue Round

Over 150 students from Years 7-13 have been busy rehearsing to perform at St John’s Autumn Concert, Theatre on the Hill on Thursday 23 November.  Open to family and friends, the programme is an eclectic mix of classical, jazz, folk and popular music, from Beethoven to Bernstein and Handel to...

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Hockey: a hat-trick of wins for Marlborough men - with two teams finding four goals

23-11-2017 Matt Way

Marlborough Men   4     Bristol & West     1Marlborough needed a win against Bristol and West if they were to maintain their position in the table and keep in contention for promotion - especially after two defeats without any goals scored.

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A Marlborough Christmas – Lights, Music, Markets and Much More

22-11-2017 Sue Round

Marlborough High Street welcomes advent on Friday 1 December.  At 6.15pm, Mayor Mervyn Hall, will board Santa’s Sleigh to be escorted to the stage outside Lloyds Bank.   

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From Little Acorns Great Oaks Grow

22-11-2017 Sue Round

St Katharine’s C of E(VC) Primary School, situated in the Savernake Forest next to St Katharine’s Church, is looking for some ‘little acorns’ to join its reception class in September 2018.

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Is Marlborough about to be joined with Swindon in a new development area?

22-11-2017

  Now with additional information:  Another Wiltshire Council consultation is underway to gather views on changes it wants to make to the Wiltshire Core Strategy that was adopted in 2015.

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Town Council's robust letter to Wiltshire Council on their parking consultation

21-11-2017

  At the Marlborough Town Council planning committee meeting on Monday (November 20), town councillors had before them a letter drafted by the Town Clerk, Mrs Shelley Parker, to Adrian Hampton, Wiltshire Council's Head of Local Highways, about their consultation on raising parking charges - which ends this Thursday.  

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Carers Rights Day: Does your employer care? That’s the £30,000 question

21-11-2017 Jules Stanbridge

On Carers Rights Day, which this year is on November 24, Wiltshire's Working for Carers scheme is urging people to ask their employer a straightforward question:  'Do you care?'  

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marlborough castle

by David du Croz

Marlborough Castle - how it could have lookedMarlborough Castle - how it could have lookedNothing remains today to suggest that Marlborough once boasted a great castle – even the Mound that was the motte to its bailey has now been proven in fact to have been a late Neolithic monument, so was not constructed originally for that purpose.  History, however, shows us not only that there was a castle on that site, but also that it was indeed a great building.

In 1267, some fifty years after succeeding to the throne of England on the death of his father King John, Henry III signed one of the most important pieces of medieval legislation, the Statutes of Marlborough.  These laws were very much the product of the civil war that had broken out some nine years earlier between king and barons, and were designed to pacify the second rank of English nobility, very much as Magna Carta had been drawn up to deal with the grievances of the barons.

The creation of such a body of laws was in part the work of legal advisors to the Crown, but also the result of a meeting of the King and the chief men of his kingdom, a meeting that not long after this event people would begin to call a “parliament”.   These sessions were extended and formal operations of the Curia Regis, the King’s Court, met wherever the King happened to be, to which place the chief men of the kingdom would then be summoned.

That such an important event should have taken place at Marlborough attests to the fact that there must have been an equally important building in which such a meeting of so many important people could have happened.

Marlborough Castle - ground planMarlborough Castle - ground planIndeed, nearly sixty years earlier an almost equally important meeting took place also at Marlborough, when King John summoned all the great men of his kingdom to swear an oath of loyalty to him, at a time when the King was beginning to have cause to question the support he was receiving from many of his barons.  Such a ceremony was designed to create an awe-inspiring spectacle as a visual communication of the power of the monarch, and as such it needed to be done against the background of a great castle.

There is therefore little doubt that in the thirteenth century Marlborough could lay claim to one of the most important castles in the south of England.  It may not have had the military significance of other fortresses, and it may not have had the architectural dominance of a Rochester or the White Tower in London, but it is clear that it was a castle much favoured by John and his son, and if we dig a little deeper into the evidence we can see that it had developed over time into a palatial building.

The first references to a castle in Marlborough come soon after the arrival of William the Conqueror to these shores, and it would appear that it was more of a wooden hunting lodge to serve the King’s sport in neighbouring Savernake forest, than an example of the many other Norman castles that were springing up all over the country at this time to subdue the local population.  Nevertheless it grew in importance and some military significance.  We know that Henry I celebrated Easter here in 1110 with his archbishop of Canterbury, Anselm, also present, and by the time of the civil wars of King Stephen’s reign it features in the many power struggles that ebbed and flowed across the southern half of the country.

It was at this time that the castle appears as one of the main possessions of the Marshall family, one of the most revered and often feared of the baronial families of England in the twelfth century.  Despite the fact that Marlborough was reinstated as a royal castle early in Henry II’s reign, the Marshalls continued to retain an interest.  The same William Marshall, who as a young boy was taken hostage at Marlborough by Stephen, was the man who opened the gates of the castle to the young King Henry III on the departure of Prince Louis and collapse of the baronial faction after the death of John.

It was during second half of the twelfth and the first half of the thirteenth centuries that the actual building at Marlborough matured into a castle of greater importance.  Stone replaced wood and residential buildings within the bailey were expanded and improved.  Henry II celebrated Christmas there in 1164, and some twenty years later we have the first evidence of Marlborough castle being a location of some political significance as it was the venue for a summoning of the king’s Great Council, attended on this occasion by the King of Scotland.  
John was married to his first wife in the castle chapel, and there is evidence to show that it was one of the most visited of his residences during his sixteen year reign.  Certainly the young Henry III spent much of his childhood there.

It was during the next fifty year period, however, that Marlborough developed into something of a palace.  Considerable sums of money were spent on the castle to convert it from an essentially military function into a royal residence fit not only for a king but also a queen.  
Eleanor of Provence whom Henry married in 1236 clearly had a soft spot for the place and it was to her that Henry bequeathed the castle when he died.  Huge building works are recorded in the Pipe Rolls and Letters Patent of this reign, which make it clear that by 1267 Marlborough castle could most certainly have become a place at which one of the first ever “parliaments” could have met to enact one of the most important pieces of medieval legislation.

In the centuries that followed Marlborough fell out of favour with its royal owners for whatever reason, and we read little more about it.  There is reference to the fact that “various persons have despoiled it to the wasting and worsening of the castle” in Richard II’s reign, and by the time of Henry VIII all we know is that “there is a ruin of a great castle, hard at the west end of the town”.  

Subsequently the site passed to the Seymour family who built three homes successively on the land just to the east of where the great gate into the bailey of the castle would have stood.  The last of those homes currently stands at the centre of Marlborough College.
 
The possible ground plan of the castle based on surviving location features and on references to rooms and buildings in contemporary documents, which could with a bit of imagination and artistic licence have produced a castle which might have looked like the opening picture.

David Du Croz was Head of History at Marlborough College for eleven years.  He is now retired and lives in Marlborough.
 
The artist’s impression above is by C.Hughes and the ground plan by H.C.Brentnall – both formerly teachers at Marlborough College.
 
For a detailed view of what the Castle might have looked like go to the Marlborough College website which includes a brilliant computer generated reconstruction and virtual tour of the castle – complete with a commentary. Just click on the picture of the Castle at top right of the following web page:  

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