John Castle was born in Yorkshire in about 1785. Castle moved to London where he found work in a brothel run by Mother Thoms in King Street Soho. In 1812 Castle and his friend, Daniel Davis, were arrested for forging bank notes. The charges against Castle were dropped when he agreed to give evidence against Davis. As a result of Castle's evidence in court, Daniel Davies was executed.
In 1816 Castle was working as a whitesmith when he met James Watson, one of the leaders of the Spencean Philanthropists, a group inspired by the ideas of Thomas Spence. Soon afterwards John Castle became a member of the Spenceans.
William Salmon, a police officer at Bow Street, knew of Castle's police record and when discovered that he had become a Spencean he told John Stafford, the Chief Clerk at Bow Street, and Home Office spymaster. Stafford decided to recruit Castle as a spy. After a combination of threats and promises, Castle agreed to provide Stafford information on the activities of the Spenceans.
On 2nd December 1816, the Spencean group organised a mass meeting at Spa Fields, Islington. The speakers at the meeting included Henry 'Orator' Hunt and James Watson. The magistrates decided to disperse the meeting and while Stafford and eighty police officers were doing this, one of the men, Joseph Rhodes was stabbed. The four leaders of the Spenceans, James Watson, Arthur Thistlewood, Thomas Preston and John Hopper were arrested and charged with high treason.
James Watson was the first to be tried. John Castle was the main prosecution witness. However, the defence council was able to show that Castle had a long criminal record and that his testimony was unreliable. The jury concluded that Castle was an agent provocateur (a person employed to incite suspected people to some open action that will make them liable to punishment) and refused to convict Watson. As the case against Watson had failed, it was decided to release the other three men who were due to be tried for the same offence.
I told him he did not deal candidly with me, and that I knew he had not disclosed all he knew. He declared nobody could say anything against him, for he detested violence and bloodshed. When people had too much drink they talked of that had better not been mentioned. He said he knew he was liable to be brought to Bow Street and publicly examined. He with others had suffered a great deal from distress and that he did not much care for his life and a man could only die once.
Mr. Stafford introduced me to Mr. Beckett the Under-Secretary (at the Home Office), who did assure me my safety on condition that I told the truth, which was a great ease to my mind, and from that moment I entered into confidential communication with Mr. Stafford. I shall get away with it if I can but if I should be taken I expect to be protected. I know I run great risk of assassination but I am determined to go through with it and report everything.
Question: How long have you had that coat on?
John Castle: A month or six weeks.
Question: Did Mr. Stafford order it for you?
John Castle: No.
Question: Who did?
John Castle: I ordered it at the clothes shop.
Question: Mr. Question: Ever since your arrest you have been supported by him?
John Castle: I do not know who paid the expenses; the clothes were purchased by Mr. Stafford and given to me.
Question: Have you had any pocket money from Mr. Stafford?
John Castle: I have.
Question: Who furnished the money for your wife's going down to Yorkshire?
John Castle: Mr. Stafford.
It is impossible to know how far the higher members of the Government are involved in the guilt of their infernal agents. But this much is known, that so soon as the whole nation lifted up its voice for parliamentary reform, spies went forth. These were selected from the most worthless and infamous of mankind, and dispersed among the multitude of famished and illiterate labourers. It was their business to find victims, no matter whether right or wrong.
The first recorded owners of Gwydir were the Coetmores, who were responsible for building the Hall Range, the earliest surviving part of the house. Members of this family are recorded as having fought at the battles of Poitiers (1356), Shrewsbury (1402) and Agincourt (1415) as commanders of longbowmen.
Following the Wars of the Roses, the castle was rebuilt around 1490 by Meredith ap Ieuan ap Robert, founder of the Wynn dynasty and a leading regional supporter of King Henry VII. Originally a fortified manor house, Gwydir acquired additions in the 1540s (incorporating reused gothic building material from nearby Maenan Abbey), and was given a fine Elizabethan porch and gardens in the 1590s. Further additions were made c.1828 to designs by Sir Charles Barry, architect of the Houses of Parliament.
In the 1570s Gwydir was the home of Katherine of Berain (‘The Mother of Wales’), cousin of Queen Elizabeth I, and the castle has associations with the Babington Plot (1586) and the Gunpowder Plot (1605). Other historical figures linked with the castle include the Earl of Leicester (Queen Elizabeth’s favourite) Inigo Jones, ‘the Father of English Palladianism’, Bishop Morgan, translator of the first Welsh Bible and Archbishop John Williams, Lord Keeper under Charles I.
During its two-hundred years as seat of the illustrious Wynn family, Gwydir emerged as one of the most important cultural and political powerhouses of Wales. Sir John Wynn was created Wales’ joint first Baronet in 1611 and left a remarkable account of the early years of the family in his famous ‘History of the Gwydir Family,’ written around 1600. In the C17th a branch of the Wynn family was established in America this line still flourishes today.
Sir John Wynn, First Baronet (1553-1626)
Katheryn of Berain (1524-1591)
Sir Richard Wynn, 2nd Baronet (1588-1649)
The fourth and last of the Wynn baronets, Sir Richard, died of the plague in 1674. His daughter, Lady Mary, married Robert Bertie, subsequently Duke of Ancaster, and from the late C17th until 1895 Gwydir was a possession of the Willoughby de Eresby family. Seated at Grimsthorpe Castle in Lincolnshire, the family used Gwydir as a summer residence from 1828, it having been tenanted for much of the C18th. In 1895 a cousin, Charles Wynn Carrington, later Marquis of Lincolnshire, bought Gwydir which he used as his primary seat until he sold the castle and its contents in 1921.
After a fire in the Solar Tower the following year, the house fell into dereliction, and after passing through several ownerships it was purchased in 1944 by Arthur Clegg. He commenced an heroic restoration of the house, which his son Richard continued after his father’s death in 1964. However, by the late 1980s the castle had once more fallen into a state of dereliction.
Peter Welford and Judy Corbett bought Gwydir Castle in 1994, and since then have undertaken the restoration of both house and garden. The interiors are now furnished with their collection of early furniture, which includes some pieces originally from Gwydir Castle that have now been brought back following their dispersal by sale in 1921. Most significantly, in July 1998, HRH The Prince of Wales opened the newly reinstated 1640s Dining Room, the fine panelling and carving of which was dramatically recovered from the Metropolitan Museum in New York in 1996. The room had been acquired by William Randolph Hearst, the famous newspaper magnate celebrated in the Hollywood film Citizen Kane. The story of the quest for, and eventual repatriation of this famous room is recounted in Judy Corbett’s book Castles in the Air. The quest for a second historic room, the Oak Parlour, also acquired by Hearst continues…
Famous for its peacocks, the castle is also known for its many ghosts and has the reputation for being one of the most haunted houses in Wales. There is a long tradition of entertaining royalty at Gwydir. King Charles I is said to have visited in September 1645 as guest of Sir Richard Wynn, Treasurer to Queen Henrietta-Maria and Chief Groom of the Royal Bedchamber. In 1899 the future King George V and Queen Mary stayed here as Duke and Duchess of York.
John Castle - History
Dunvegan Castle is one the greatest Hebridean castles and the only Highland fortress to have been continuously occupied by the same family for 800 years.
Architecturally it is a building of high importance, containing the work of at least ten building periods ranging from the 1200s to the 1850s. Dunvegan Castle today has a unified design with Victorian dummy pepper-pots and defensive battlements running the whole length of the roof line. This romantic restoration was carried out by the 25 th Chief between 1840 and 1850 to the plans of Robert Brown of Edinburgh at a total cost of £8,000. Underneath this outer skin however, there remains a series of five separate buildings each with its own unique character and story to tell.
The tone is set by the imposing land bridge leading to the colonnaded portico entrance built by John Norman (24 th Chief) in 1814. From its impressive entrance hall to its ornately decorated State Rooms, the castle is a unique mix of building styles that reflect the requirements of the clan Chiefs who built them over the centuries.
If you want to discover the authentic spirit of the Isles, you will find it at Dunvegan where the castle and its wonderful collection represent the very essence of all that Gaeldom represents in the Highlands and Islands.
Built in 1918 by Albert Loeb, the acting President of Sears, Roebuck, and Co. as a model dairy farm, Loeb Farms was modeled after the stone barns and castles found in Normandy, France. At its peak the farm was the largest employer in Charlevoix County, with over 90 people on its payroll. It had more than 200 head of prize-winning Holstein-Friesian and 13 pair of Belgian draft horses. It even had its own baseball team- the Sodbusters.
In 1962, John VanHaver purchased one hundred acres of the original Loeb Farms property and renamed it Castle VanHaver. He opened it to the public in 1966, offering tours, a cafe, and an art gallery with a working artist studio on site.
Arthur and Edwina Reibel purchased the property in 1969. They tried out many businesses, but eventually settled on a concert venue under the name Castle Farms Summer Music Theater. The property hosted many concerts through the 1970’s to early 1990’s, including headliners like Tina Turner, Aerosmith and The Doobie Brothers, to name a few.
Linda Mueller purchased Castle Farms in 2001 and began an extensive restoration project. The roofs were replaced, wings were added back according to original blueprints, and extensive gardens were created. The Castle began hosting weddings in 2002. Family activities and events followed, creating a destination for the whole family.
The story of Glenveagh, its landscape and its people is a fascinating tale…
The estate of Glenveagh was created in 1857-9 by the purchase of several smaller holdings by John George Adair, a wealthy land speculator from Co. Laois. John Adair was to later incur infamy throughout Donegal and Ireland by ruthlessly evicting some 244 tenants in the Derryveagh Evictions.
After marrying his American born wife Cornelia, Adair began the construction of Glenveagh Castle in 1867, which was completed by 1873. Adair however was never to fulfil his dream of creating a hunting estate in the highlands of Donegal and died suddenly in 1885 on return from a business trip to America.
After her husband’s death Cornelia took over the running of the estate and introduced deer stalking in the 1890’s. She continually sought to improve the castle’s comforts and the beauty of its grounds, carrying out major improvements to the estate and laying out the gardens. Over the next 30 years she was to become a much noted society hostess and continued to summer at the castle until 1916.
Following the death of Mrs Adair in London in 1921, Glenveagh fell much into decline and was occupied by both the Anti-treaty and Free State Army forces during the Irish civil war.
Glenveagh’s next owner was not to be until 1929 when purchased by Professor Arthur Kingsley Porter of Harvard University who came to Ireland to study Irish archaeology and culture. The Kingsley Porters mainly entertained Irish literary and artistic figures including close friend AE Russell whose paintings still hang in the library of the castle. Their stay was to be short however as Arthur Kingsley Porter mysteriously disappeared from Inishbofin Island in 1933 while visiting the island.
The last private owner was Mr Henry McIlhenny of Philadelphia who bought the estate in 1937. Henry McIlhenny was an Irish American whose Grandfather John McIlhenny grew up in Milford a few miles north of Glenveagh. After buying the estate Mr McIlhenny devoted much time to restoring the castle and developing its gardens.
Eventually Henry McIlhenny began to find travelling to and from Ireland too demanding and the upkeep of the estate was also becoming a strain. In 1975 he agreed the sale of the estate to the Office of Public Works allowing for the creation of a National Park. In 1983 he bestowed the castle to the nation along with its gardens and much of the contents.
Glenveagh National Park opened to the public in 1984 while the castle opened in 1986. Today as under private ownership Glenveagh continues to attract and inspire visitors from all over the world.
Please contact us if you have any specific enquiry we can help with in the meantime.
The Wars of the Roses
With the Percys disgraced, the family’s lands passed to the Crown. But Henry V restored the son of Harry Hotspur, another Henry Percy (1393–1455), to the family inheritance and earldom in 1416. The 2nd Earl is known to have undertaken building work at the castle, although it is not now clear what this was. 
In the Wars of the Roses the 2nd and 3rd Earls supported the Lancastrian cause of Henry VI but were killed at the Battles of St Albans (1455) and Towton (1461) respectively. Warkworth was then occupied as the Yorkist headquarters. From there the Earl of Warwick, leader of the Yorkist forces, supervised the sieges of Alnwick, Bamburgh and Dunstanburgh castles, which remained centres of Lancastrian resistance.
In 1470–71 Edward IV restored the eldest son of the 3rd Earl to his inheritance and title. The heraldic decoration on the Lion Tower shows that after his marriage, in 1472, the 4th Earl, Henry (c 1449–1489), began the complete remodelling of the bailey.  He also planned a new collegiate church in the castle, but this was abandoned after he was murdered in 1489.
St Andrews Castle
St Andrews Castle was the official residence of Scotland’s leading bishop (and later archbishop) throughout the Middle Ages. Its size signalled the power and wealth of these important churchmen.
Some key moments leading up to the Protestant Reformation in 1560 took place inside the castle walls.
- burning of the Protestant preacher George Wishart
- murder of the Catholic Cardinal David Beaton
- great siege of 1546–7, when the church reformer John Knox was one of the garrison
Bishops and archbishops of St Andrews
Bishop Arnold (1160–62) began building a new cathedral on an unprecedented scale. Bishop Roger (1189–1202) began the new castle as his official residence.
St Andrews Castle suffered significant damage during the Wars of Independence with England (1296–1356). It had to be substantially rebuilt by Bishop Walter Trail (1385–1401).
The bishops of St Andrews gained overarching responsibility for the Scottish Church in the later medieval period.
Religious tensions grew in the early 16th century, leading to more building works. Archbishop James Beaton (1521–39) built new gun towers to strengthen the castle’s defences, which were soon put to the test by his nephew and successor.
Cardinal David Beaton (1539–46) strongly opposed the progressive move towards closer political ties with Henry VIII’s Protestant England. He had Protestant preacher George Wishart burned in front of the castle. In response, a group of Protestant nobles occupied the castle and assassinated Beaton.
The siege that followed, led by the Regent Arran, caused extensive damage. It also resulted in the creation of the castle’s most remarkable features – the mine (dug by Regent Arran’s troops) and countermine (dug by the Protestant rebels). These underground passages of medieval siege warfare are unique.
Decline and ruin
Archbishop John Hamilton (1546–71) repaired the badly damaged castle, giving it a new entrance front. The ornate Hamilton Façade is in stark contrast to the defences built by previous residents. It reflects Hamilton’s wealth and power as well as changes in architectural styles.
But Hamilton’s tenure was brought to an early end, because he opposed the Reformation. He was eventually hanged.
St Andrews Castle was left without a resident or a purpose when bishops were abolished in 1592. It fell rapidly into ruin.
In 1801, the Great Hall collapsed and most of it plunged into the sea. There were further losses until a sea wall was built in 1886.
Robert Dudley and Elizabeth 1
In 1563, Elizabeth I (r.1558&ndash1603) granted Kenilworth to her childhood friend and favourite, Robert Dudley, John&rsquos son and soon to be Earl of Leicester. She visited four times during &lsquoprogresses&rsquo through her realm &ndash her visit in the summer of 1575 was the longest she made to any courtier during her reign &ndash and Dudley&rsquos embellishments to the castle and its setting were doubtless intended to impress her.
His changes to the landscape were certainly ambitious. On rising ground north of the mere acquired from the former priory he created the chase, an enclosed hunting park of some 320 hectares (800 acres) with dramatic views.  Leicester&rsquos Gatehouse, a handsome building of 1571&ndash2, gave access to it from the castle, and an impressive bridge, 183 metres (600 feet) long, carried hunting parties to it over the mere. 
Within the castle&rsquos inner court, Leicester also erected the four-storey tower block known as Leicester&rsquos Building, which was designed specifically for the queen&rsquos use in 1572 and improved for her next visit in 1575.  He also embellished the park with bowers, arbours, seats and walks, and laid out a privy garden for the queen&rsquos 1575 visit.
Robert Langham, an official in Leicester&rsquos household who was allowed into the garden during the queen&rsquos absence on a hunt, described it in great detail, and the accuracy of his account is borne out by archaeological evidence.
Spanning more than 700 years, the history of Hever Castle is rich and varied. The original medieval defensive castle, with its gatehouse and walled bailey, was built in 1270. In the 15 th and 16 th centuries it was the home of one of the most powerful families in the country, the Boleyns, who added the Tudor dwelling within the walls.
The Castle was to become the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, King Henry VIII’s second wife, who became Queen of England for just 1,000 days. It was Henry’s love for Anne and her insistence that she became his wife rather than his mistress that led to the King renouncing Catholicism and creating the Church of England.
Hever later passed into the ownership of another of Henry VIII’s wives, Anne of Cleves, and from 1557 onwards it was owned by a number of families including the Waldegraves, the Humphreys and the Meade Waldos.
Gradually it fell into decline before William Waldorf Astor invested time, money and imagination in restoring the Castle. He commissioned the ’Tudor Village’, now called the ‘Astor Wing’ and the construction of the magnificent gardens and lake. At Hever, his wealth and vision enabled him to create a lavish family home that also indulged his passion for history.
History of the Castle
This is a brief chronological sequence of significant events in the history of Castle Cornet, from its thirteenth century origins to the present day.
The earliest parts of Castle Cornet date to the 13th century.
In 1066 when William Duke of Normandy became William I, King of England, the Channel Islands became possessions of the English Crown. In 1204, King John lost control of Normandy but the Islands remained in the possession of the English Crown. As a result there was the need to defend the Channel Islands against the French. The construction of Castle Cornet commenced shortly after this date.
Castle Cornet was built on a small island off the coast of Guernsey, to defend the busy trading harbour of St Peter Port. It had a strong natural position, surrounded by the sea and only accessible on foot at the lowest tides. Before the enlargement of the harbour and the building of the Castle Emplacement Castle Cornet was nearly a mile off the shore of Guernsey.
In September 1338 the French attacked and took Castle Cornet. They held it for 7 years.
Castle cornet was recaptured by the English. The Castle was severely damaged during these conflicts and a significant amount of rebuilding had to take place.
Gunners Tower was constructed. It was the first tower built to take canon.
In the 16th century cannon became increasingly available and were more readily used as a means of attack and defence. New fortifications were required to not only take cannon but also defend against them.
During the reigns of Henry VIII (1509-1547) and Elizabeth I (1558-1603) successive island governors supervised the building of new outer walls and fortifications around the medieval fortress creating the basic outline of the Castle still seen today. Paul Ivy, the foremost military engineer during this period designed the Tudor extensions to the Castle. Incorporating artillery around the castle walls provided substantial protection. The earliest of these extensions was the Mewtis Bulwark built in 1550. It was named after Sir Peter Mewtis, the governor of Guernsey at the time.
A Commission under Sir Francis Chamberlayne, the then Governor of Guernsey, reported that the Castle needed repair and updating as artillery had continued to advance and most of the fortifications at Castle Cornet were considered obsolete. Sir Francis did make one improvement before he left office in 1570 - the construction of Chamberlayne's Mount on the west side of the citadel.
1570 - 1609
Other proposals made by the Commission of 1567 were carried out in a modified form by Sir Thomas Leighton (Governor of Guernsey 1570-1609). Most of the outer walls and great bastions or bulwarks now called the Town Bastion and Royal Battery were constructed during this time, as was the Castle Gate and the Hart Bulwark.
1642 - 1651
At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1642 Guernsey declared for Parliament, Castle Cornet, under the Governor Sir Peter Osborne, remained loyal to King Charles I. The Castle was under siege throughout this period. There were regular skirmishes with both the Castle and St Peter Port suffering damage from each others guns. Castle Cornet was the last Royalist stronghold to surrender in 1651.
After the Restoration of 1660 the Castle was fully maintained as a fortress.
1661 - 1670
Major-General Sir John Lambert was held prisoner in the Castle. Charles II banished his opponents and Lambert was sent to Guernsey. He was a keen gardener and while in the Castle he was allowed to devote his time to horticultural interests. A garden within the Castle, based on late Tudor designs, bears Lambert's name.
On the 29th December 1672 the donjon or keep of the castle was hit by lightening. The living quarters of the Governor, Lord Hatton were destroyed together with the medieval Great Hall and the chapel. They were never rebuilt. Lord Hatton survived but his wife, mother and five other people were killed. After this accident no Governors ever lived in the Castle again.
By this time the Castle stood well within the range of artillery positioned in St Peter Port. However, with increasing international tension in the mid 1700's it still served as an important fortress, armed with over 70 guns and a garrison of up to 300 men. During this period several new barrack buildings were added to the Castle to house an enlarged British garrison.
The Lower Barracks was built around 1745 and housed men of the Royal Artillery who manned the castle guns. The Upper Barracks was designed by John Henry Bastide and built between 1745 and 1750. It housed four companies of infantrymen. The Hospital building was built in 1746, although it did not serve as a hospital before 1789. After 1855 it was used as a canteen. The citadel, found at the top of the Castle, contains a range of bombproof casemates built as a means of increasing barrack accommodation.
By 1800 the Castle was considered to be inadequate as a garrison stronghold and Fort George replaced Castle Cornet as the main barracks for the island.
The harbour was extended and a wooden bridge built to connect it to Castle Cornet. The bridge was replaced with the concrete structure seen today following the Second World War.
Two 12-pounder quick firing guns were installed on the citadel.
1940 - 1945
During the German Occupation of the Channel Islands the castle was known as Stuzpunkt Hafenschloss (Strongpoint Harbour Castle). Through the Second World War it housed Luftwaffe flak (anti-aircraft) units. Many modifications were made to the castle during this period as the defences once again had to be brought up to date for modern warfare. Many structures from this period including personnel shelters and gun emplacements can still be seen today.