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Dr. Alexander’s Talk Reveals Expert Knowledge of Guildford Castle

Published on: 13 Jun, 2012
Updated on: 14 Jun, 2012

Mary Alexander presenting her talk on Guildford Castle

by Megan Scott

Dr. Mary Alexander presented a virtual tour of the Guildford Castle and grounds at Ye Olde Ship Inn on Monday evening (11 Jun).

As the author of a thesis on the subject, for which she was awarded her PhD, Dr. Alexander probably knows more about the history of the castle and grounds than anyone, something she amply demonstrated as she explained the complex past of the building with practiced ease.

The talk was presented to a small audience of local history enthusiasts at Ye Olde Ship Inn, St Catherine’s. It was illustrated with many photographs of the castle’s exterior and interior, allowing visible evidence on the ruins to be pointed out precisely.

‘The strange lack of decoration’ said Dr Alexander, strongly suggests that the keep was extended by King Stephen, the last king of the House of Normandy, probably when he needed a defensive building to intimidate supporters of his ambitious cousin and rival, Matilda, and fast. Her followers were threatening London from the South West and may have approached through Guildford. This was just one example given by Dr Alexander of the castle’s fascinating story.

The castle was originally built by William the Conqueror to intimidate the Anglo-Saxon residents of Guildford. But it was Henry III who used the castle more than any other sovereign. During his reign it was developed into a palace with many other buildings, including accommodation for the king, constructed within the perimeter.

The keep is like a patchwork that took centuries to become the ruins we know today. The Victorians, in their typical fashion left their marks deliberately obvious, but there are many revealing layers to the building.

Guildford Castle with the recently discovered original battlements picked out with render

In 2004, restoration workers up on the scaffolding discovered the battlements that reveal the original height of the keep, which have since been outlined with the protective render and can now be seen clearly from ground level.

The majority of the audience had visited the keep itself and were encouraged to ask questions.



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Responses to Dr. Alexander’s Talk Reveals Expert Knowledge of Guildford Castle

  1. Mary Alexander

    June 13, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    Thanks very much for this review.