Heddingham Castle (Essex): did the “real” Shakespeare live here?

We went to Hedingham Castle.

It’s a very early survival of a Norman Keep dating back to about 1140.

There was however a fire during WW1 so the interior is recreated.

Sorry, at this point my focus was still broken on my camera.

The original family (the property was recently sold) will say their ancestor – Edward De Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford – who lived here was the real Shakespeare.  He was said to have been good at shaking spears and it would have not been the ‘done thing’ to admit to being a poet or a playright.

Who will ever know?

Here’s the history from the website:

“Aubrey de Vere was one of William the Conqueror’s most favoured knights. After the Battle of Hastings he was given land in many counties including Middlesex where he owned Kensington and Earls Court. His son Aubrey II built a huge castle at Hedingham c.1140 using the Archbishop of Canterbury as his architect. Aubrey III was created Ist Earl of Oxford by Queen Matilda and the castle remained the stronghold of the de Veres for 550 years and is still owned by a descendant. The Norman keep with its magnificent banqueting hall and minstrels’ gallery is now the only remaining evidence of this great medieval  castle and its later extensive Tudor buildings. The immensely rich and powerful de Veres were one of the most important medieval families who, as Lord Great Chamberlains, gave loyal service and military leadership to their kings and queens for over 500 years. Hedingham had many royal visitors including King Henry VII, King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I.
Tilting helmet of John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford in the Museo Bargello, Florence
The Earls of Oxford were great crusaders and Aubrey, 2nd Earl fought with Richard Coeur de Lion and Robert, 3rd Earl was one of the barons who forced King John to sign the Magna Carta in 1215. The following year Hedingham Castle was besieged by King John, and again by the Dauphin of France in 1217. The de Veres were commanders throughout history and featured at the Siege of Caerlaverock and the famous battles of Crecy, Poitiers, Agincourt and Bosworth. John, 15th Earl took part in the Battle of the Spurs and accompanied King Henry VIII at the Field of the Cloth of Gold, and as Lord Great Chamberlain bore the crown at Anne Boleyn’s coronation. John, 16th Earl escorted young Elizabeth from Hatfield to London for her coronation in 1559 and his wife Margery became her maid of honour. In 1561 Queen Elizabeth I aged twenty-eight stayed at Hedingham from  August 14th-19th, and Edward,17th Earl, became one of her favourites and was acclaimed to be the best of the courtier poets.”

I admired the Georgian house in which the owners live but which was not open.

We spent a while in the castle and then walked around the gardens, with a lake and dovecote.  Our East Anglia holiday was over and we were on our way back to London.

When visited: June 2012

Property * out of 5: **

Garden * out of 5: **

Website: http://www.hedinghamcastle.co.uk/

Theme tune: Shakespeare’s Sister

Further reading: http://www.squidoo.com/hedingham-castle-the-birthplace-of-shakespeare

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