Our Sites: Hedingham Castle

Hedingham Castle is a wonderfully restored Norman Keep set in beautiful countryside on the Essex – Suffolk border.

A wooden motte and bailey castle was established by Aubrey de Vere shortly after the victory of Duke William of Normandy in 1066 and this was converted to a stone fortification in the first half of the twelfth century.

Hands on the Past appear at the Castle in June to offer a Medieval presentation. Set in the year 1386 England is at war with France and there has recently been the ‘Peasant’s Revolt’ – a protest against the taxes set by King Richard to pay for the war. Plague arrived in 1349 and is a constant threat to the health of all. A close friend of the King, the Earl of Oxford, has recently been created Lord Chamberlain and is away at Court but the household left behind have to keep the castle in readiness for his expected return.

We appear again at the Castle in September to offer a presentation based in 1146 when the stone castle was newly finished. Although only 80 years after the Norman Conquest the Norman Lords are now fighting a civil war. When Henry II died in 1135 he left the throne to his daughter, Matilda (also known as the Empress Maud), but the Barons do not want a Queen and many support her cousin, Stephen.

Aubrey de Vere has supported Matilda and, in gratitude, she has granted him the Earldom of Oxford. However, Stephen has now put Matilda to flight and has summoned Aubrey to Winchester, England’s capital city, to explain himself. The household left behind wait anxiously for news – will Stephen accept the gifts that the Earl has taken or will some punishment mean disaster for all.

Students visiting Hedingham Castle will usually rotate around a carousel of 8 activities both inside and around the castle in a series of large tents. The characters that they might meet include a musician in the Great Hall, Lady Oxford looking for new servants, a soldier, an archer, a storyteller, a servant from the kitchen, a servant from the still room, a knight and a servant playing games. Sometimes the scribe is present at the castle writing documents for Lady Oxford.

The day starts at 10.30 with an introduction, we stop shortly after 12.00 for lunch and the day concludes at 14.00. Other start and finish times may be possible by prior arrangement.

Our Sites

Hands On The Past currently invite schools to three sites around the country:

Oxburgh Hall >

Baddesley Clinton >

Hedingham Castle >

Your Event

Hands On The Past can build an event for your school but we also offer 'ready-made' presentions.

Take a look at the list of activities we can already offer:

Presentation/Activities Listing >