A brand new art exhibit with never-before-seen artifacts from Caludon Castle’s 900-year history is on display at the Herbert Art Gallery. But what do you know of Coventry Castle and its past?
Local expert John Clarke has already written a book about the castle and recently commissioned a model of what the building would have looked like 500 years ago. The model will form part of the exhibition alongside priceless deeds and documents that chronicle the rise and fall of the enigmatic castle, giving visitors a unique insight into the history of the lords of Caludon Manor, who were among the wealthiest and most powerful nobles in England. and includes papers bearing the royal seals of King Edward I and Elizabeth I.
But thanks to John and his diligent research, there are many facts about the building and the families who once owned it. Keep reading for 10 things about Caludon Castle you probably didn’t know.
Read more: The 900 years of history of the Château de Caludon are on display for the first time
1. Caludon Castle began life in the early 1200s as a wooden mansion surrounded by a moat. The surrounding land originally belonged to Earl Leofric and Lady Godiva. The original moat, now dry, still exists today 100 meters north of the castle site.
2. One of the first Lords of Caludon, Sir John de Segrave, was the King’s Lieutenant in Scotland and was responsible for tracking down and convicting Scottish rebel William Wallace (of Braveheart film fame) whom he decreed to be ‘hanged, pulled and quartered’. The body parts were scattered in different parts of the country.
3. Caludon Castle and Caludon Manor was once owned by the powerful Mowbray family, Dukes of Norfolk and Earl Marshals of England. Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk and Lord of Caludon, was famous for the abortive Battle of Gosford Green in Coventry, featured in the first chapter of William Shakespeare’s Richard II.
4. Caludon’s royal connections were very strong. Lord Henry Berkeley, Lord of Caludon, was godson of King Henry VIII and his son, Lord George Berkeley, godson of ‘Queen Bess’, Elizabeth I. Lord Henry, whose family also owned Berkeley Castle, died at the age of 80 from salmonella after eating a cream pie at Caludon.
5. Shakespeare is said to have based his famous play, The Taming of the Shrew, on the lives of Lord Henry and Lady Katherine Berkeley, the Lord and Lady of Caludon. The couple was passionate about hunting.
6. Thomas Malory, author of Le Morte D’Arthur, the famous book on the legend of King Arthur was responsible for attacking Caludon Manor in 1451, killing deer and causing over £500 in damage, a fortune on the ‘medieval ages.
7. Although according to local legend St George was born in Caludon, most scholars believe that if he existed he was born in Cappadocia, Turkey or Lydda in Palestine.
8. The British Library contains a reference to the well-documented claim that Shakespeare first wrote and performed one of his most famous plays “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” for an “aristocratic wedding – believed to be the marriage of Thomas Berkeley (son of Lord Henry Berkeley Lord of Caludon) to Elizabeth Carey daughter of George Lord Hunsdon Patron of Shakespeare’s Company, The Lord Chamberlain’s Men.
9. For many years historians and locals have been convinced that Caludon Castle was besieged and destroyed during the English Civil War. However, newly discovered documents show that the castle existed in its entirety well beyond the Civil War until the 1800s.
10. An iron coffin with the remains of an armored knight was unearthed near the castle and under the farmhouse called Caludon House.