Donnington Castle is a ruined medieval castle, situated in the small
village of Donnington, just north of the town of Newbury in the
English county of Berkshire. It was founded by Sir Richard Abberbury
the Elder in 1386 and was bought by
Thomas Chaucer before the castle
was taken under royal control during the Tudor period. During the
First English Civil War
First English Civil War the castle was held by the royalist Sir John
Boys and withstood an 18-month siege; after the garrison eventually
surrendered, Parliament voted to demolish
Donnington Castle in 1646.
Only the gatehouse survives. The site is under the care of English
Heritage and is protected from unauthorised change as a scheduled
5 See also
6 External links
The striking twin-towered gatehouse
The manor of Donnington had been owned by the Adderbury family since
Donnington Castle was built by its original owner, Sir Richard
Abberbury the Elder, under a licence granted by Richard II in 1386.
The surviving castle gatehouse dates from this time. In 1398, the
castle was sold to Thomas Chaucer, son of the poet Geoffrey Chaucer,
as a residence for his daughter Alice, who later became Duchess of
Duke of Suffolk
Duke of Suffolk William De La Pole made Donnington his
occasional residence, and considerably enlarged the buildings.
This family later fell out with the Tudor monarchs, and the castle
became a royal property. In 1514 it was given to Charles Brandon,
1st Duke of Suffolk. Though Brandon appears to have stayed at the
Donnington Castle in 1516, by the time the castle and manor returned
to the Crown in 1535 the structured was in a state of decay. Both
King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I visited Donnington
Castle, in 1539 and 1568 respectively.
In 1600, Elizabeth I gave the castle and surrounding manor to
Charles Howard, 1st Earl of Nottingham. By the time the English
Civil War broke out in 1643, the castle was owned by the
Parliamentarian John Packer family but after the First Battle of
Newbury it was taken for the King, Charles I, and held by Sir John
Boys. They quickly enhanced the castle's defences by adding earthworks
in a star shape to provide gun emplacements. Parliamentarians laid
siege to the castle in October 1644 and the garrison held out for
18 months. With permission from the king, Boys surrendered the
castle in April 1646 and was allowed to leave with all his men.
In 1646 Parliament voted to demolish the castle; only the gatehouse
was left standing though the 17th-century earthworks can still be
seen. The castle is now in the care of
English Heritage and is a
scheduled ancient monument number 233041.
The castle stayed in the Packer family until the mid 18th century,
when Robert Packer married Mary Winchcombe, and the property passed
into the Winchcombe family tree. From 1833-1881 the manor and castle
was owned by Winchcombe Henry Howard Hartley,
1825 plan showing the 14th‑century
Donnington Castle surrounded by
the 17th‑century star-shaped defences. The demolished parts of the
castle are shown as unfilled lines, while the parts extant in 1825 are
in thick black.
Donnington Castle was originally built in a roughly rectangular form,
though the west facade projected outwards irregularly. It was
enclosed by a curtain wall, with a round tower at each of the four
corners. Roughly halfway along the two walls running from west to east
were two square towers. The courtyard enclosed by the curtain walls
would probably have contained a hall, kitchens, and accommodation for
guests. Measured from the inner sides of the curtain walls, the
courtyard measured 67 feet (20 m) north to south and 108 ft
(33 m) east to west.
During the Civil War star-shaped defences were built around the castle
to facilitate gun emplacements. Only the gatehouse, crested by
battlements, survived the castle's destruction in 1646; standing
three storeys high, it measures 17.5 by 11.75 feet (5.33 by
3.58 m) internally. Modern walls standing 0.5 metres
(1 ft 8 in) high outline the original layout of the
demolished castle. The star-shaped earthworks added during the Civil
War are still visible, surviving to a height of 1.7 m (5 ft
Print by William Byrne, 1778
Plan of the last Skirmish at
Donnington Castle during the First
English Civil War
Distant view of the castle, 2017
^ A series of views of the most interesting remains of ancient castles
of England and Wales - William Woolnoth et al. 1823
^ a b c d e f g h "
Donnington Castle Monument No 233041". Pastscape.
English Heritage. Retrieved 18 August 2012.
^ a b c d e f "Shaw-cum-Donnington: Castle". A History of the County
of Berkshire: Volume 4. Victoria County History. 1924.
pp. 87–97. Retrieved 7 March 2012.
Castles in Great Britain and Ireland
List of castles in England
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Donnington Castle.
Donnington Castle - Newbury History
English Heritage page on Donnington Castle
Gatehouse Gazetteer record for Donnington Castle, containing a