Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Odiham Castle

I do like a castle!  Last year we managed to squeeze in a number of castles on our holiday in Wales but despite the wealth of castles in the South East (especially Kent) we don't often go on visits... for some unexplained reason they don't hold the same attraction for my wife!

Despite this, last weekend she suggested visiting Odiham Castle in Hampshire (only's just over the Surrey/Hampshire border)

We recently decided that at least once a month we would take it in turns to organise some kind of family activity... having a teenager means we rarely do things together , especially as he's very busy with a host of musical things going on.  We thought that this way we might spend a bit of time together although there is a danger in placing yourself in the hands of one of the others and entrusting them with choosing something to do.

My wife had to pick the first day (settled by dice roll...I'll make a gamer of her yet!) and came up with Odiham.  I think there was a nice dog walk along the canal planned as part of the day which may have been her cunning plan all along.

The remains of the octagonal keep
Odiham is a nice little castle, one of only 3 built by King John sometime between 1207 and 1214.  John may have set out from here to Runnymede (or possibly somewhere else...I think Odiham town council may have been clutching at straws here).  The castle was built on a bend of the River Whitewater and originally included banks and palisades.  Now only the remains of the octagonal keep remain.

Shortly after it was finished in 1216 it was besieged by the French and held out for 2 weeks despite only having a garrison of 13 men.  The castle was later given to Eleanor, sister of Henry III who promptly married Simon de Montfort.  Following his death at Evesham it reverted back to the crown.

It was also involved in rebellions by the Despenser family, hosted parliament and was a home to David II of Scotland for 11 years after his capture at Neville's Cross.

A very large upper floor fireplace

By the 15th century it was used as a hunting lodge and had fallen into ruin by 1605, just leaving the keep.  Apparently it has a ghostly minstrel... he didn't put in an appearance sadly

The main entrance with a spectral figure...oh,'s my son...

We finished off with a walk along the Basingstoke canal where one of the dogs tried taking on a couple of swans (not a good idea) and ended up for a late lunch at Newlands Corner, a Surrey viewpoint and beauty spot full of bikers, which does a very nice bacon roll.


  1. I didn't realise Odiham Castle was open to the public- I'll go there myself now I know; thanks Alastair.

    Although, I think I'll wait until the sun has decided to return to our leaden-skied country ...

  2. I shall try to visit this castle Alistair, I didn't realise it had such a colourful history!