Stone wall remains covered with vegetation
Wallingford Castle ruins © Wallingford Town Council
Wallingford Castle ruins © Wallingford Town Council

Grant Awarded to Repair Remains of Royal Medieval Castle in Wallingford, Oxfordshire

Historic England has awarded a £283,200 grant to help repair important medieval remains at Wallingford Castle, in south Oxfordshire.

Set amongst the giant and extensive castle earthworks, the ruins are the largest surviving pieces of wall from the once grand royal castle, which was first built under William the Conqueror and later dismantled stone by stone on the orders of Oliver Cromwell.

Wallingford Castle is protected as a scheduled monument and Grade I listed. It is on the Heritage at Risk Register due to slow decay and damage from weather conditions, ivy regrowth and vandalism. The Castle Gardens and ruins are managed by Wallingford Town Council and offer a peaceful place for visitors and local people to spend time.

The first phase of repairs will focus on the standing remains of the ‘college of St Nicholas’, to be completed by the end of next year (2022).

There will be opportunities for local people to get involved throughout, to follow the work on site, and to learn more through displays in Wallingford town centre and new information boards produced by the volunteer-run museum.

Having been involved in recent archaeological work at Wallingford and around the castle, and knowing Historic England has worked hard over several years with Wallingford Town Council, it is fantastic to see repairs getting underway.

Helena Hamerow, Professor of Early Medieval Archaeology and Historic England Commissioner

The castle remains bear priceless witness to the important role Wallingford has played in English history and should be a source of pride to us all. I am enormously grateful to Historic England for helping us to save them for the future.

Cllr Katharine Keats-Rohan Wallingford Town Council


The north-east quarter of the town, today known as Castle Meadows, is home to earthwork features dating back to the late Saxon period, as well as the remains of the Medieval castle. Wallingford was a significant and sizeable late Saxon 'burh' or fortified town which had its own mint.

The first castle at this site was built by order of William the Conqueror, sometime between 1067 and 1071. Wallingford was one of three castles built in the wake of the Norman invasion to establish control over the Thames Valley – the others at Windsor and Oxford.

Wallingford was a key location in the Norman Conquest. After the Battle of Hastings in October 1066, William and his invading army seized control of Dover and Canterbury, followed by Winchester. Failing to take London from the south, William travelled west along the Thames to cross further upstream and attack from the north. He was met at Wallingford by Archbishop Stigand of Canterbury. Stigand had previously supported Harold Godwinson and then Edgar Ætheling’s claims to the throne but now wished to negotiate an English surrender, rather than endure more Norman destruction. The surrender was accepted, and the Normans continued to Berkhamstead where Edgar formally ceded the crown to William, who then led his army to London for his coronation as King William I of England, later known as William the Conqueror.

The original wooden motte and bailey castle structure took advantage of the existing Saxon ‘wall’ on the north of the site – a huge 10m high earthen rampart first built in the time of King Alfred, about 890 – as part of its defences. The castle continued to expand and develop over many hundreds of years.

Throughout its history the castle was home or host to many Kings and Queens of England, it was lived in by aristocracy, besieged unsuccessfully numerous times and was a notorious prison for hundreds of years.

A ‘college’ of clergy was installed at the castle to serve a chantry chapel dedicated to St Nicholas in the inner bailey. The Dean, chaplains, clerks and choristers lived on site and were housed in a building complex known as the college of St Nicholas. The college building which survives as ruins today was built in the middle bailey sometime after 1384.

The castle fell into decline in the 16th century but was re-fortified under Charles I in 1643 during the English Civil War. However, after a 16-week siege in 1646 the castle was finally surrendered to Cromwell on the king’s orders. After the Civil War had ended the castle was systemically destroyed so it couldn’t fall into the wrong hands and no longer posed a threat.