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Faringdon Castle
Where Son betrayed Father

In 1144, Robert, Earl of Gloucester built a castle in Faringdon Clump (an old Iron Age hillfort) at the behest of his son, Philip. Philip had been holding Cricklade Castle (Wilts) for his aunt, the Empress Matilda, but had suffered badly from Royalist attacks and wanted another friendly stronghold in the Thames Valley. Unfortunately, no sooner had the place been built than King Stephen arrived to lay siege to it. Robert refused to send reinforcements and, after only a four day siege, the castellan, Brian De Soulis, capitulated. Soon after, Philip, exasperated by his father's inactivity, surrendered up Cricklade and joined King Stephen's cause. Rumour had it that the two Imperialists had conspired together, letting the enemy into Faringdon by night in order to safeguard their own futures. The castle was partly excavated in 1935, when some of Stephen's men, who had fallen in the assault, were found in the encompassing ditch. The dig preceded the erection of, what may be, the latest folly in England. Faringdon Folly is a 140ft brick tower built on a whim for Lord Berners. It has a look-out room at the top.

 
 

    Nash Ford Publishing 2001. All Rights Reserved.