Ludgershall Castle

 Ludgershall Castle - The 500-year-old ruins of Ludgershall Castle are open for public viewing and managed as Ludgershall Castle and Cross by English Heritage. It takes approximately half an hour to see the ruins and circle the quarter-mile path around the ditch-enclosure. The cross is also on display and sits behind decorative railings nearby on the High Street. 

Visiting Ludgershall Castle


A free car park with four spaces is located 50m (164.04ft) from the site, just off the A342 on Castle Street

A second public car park is also available further down, in the town centre on St. James Street

Driving up to the castle grounds' entrance gate for drop-off is permitted




Open year-round; visit at any reasonable time during daylight hours

Location & Access 

Castle Street - Off the A342, 8mi (12.87km) northwest of Andover

Ludgershall, Andover, Wiltshire, SP11 9QT

The ruins sit amid a farm and another private residence on Castle Street, a short distance away from the English Heritage car park. The ruins are also accessed via east-west pathways running between the two embankments along the main defensive ditch. 

Know Before You Go

  • Public toilets, eateries, and shops are located in Ludgershall town centre
  • Dogs on leads welcome
  • Surrounding earthworks are steep, and narrow footpaths along the wooded area turn muddy in wet weather - sturdy footwear and caution on-site is advised
  • Drone flying is not allowed at any English Heritage site without explicit permission

History of Ludgershall Castle

Ludgershall Castle was built around earthworks dating back to an Iron age fort over a thousand years ago. It was rebuilt into a ringwork fortification once owned by the Crown and later became the favoured residence for King John and Henry III.

Time Line

-c.1015 (Land at Ludgershall Granted)

By Royal Will, a settlement of 3 hides, believed to have been Ludgerhall in Wiltshire, was given to Godwine the Driveller


El ward gains control of a hide at Ludgershall.


Edward of Salisbury, appointed Sheriff of Wiltshire in 1081, obtained the estate. He has been credited with first building the stone castle, with adopted earthworks dating back to the Iron Age as part of its defenses.

-c.1100 (Expanded)

After Edward died, Ludgershall became the Crown's property, and King Henry I appointed John the Marshal to be its castellan on his behalf. He raised two fortifications inside two enclosures, embanked to the north and south, forming an irregular figure-eight. 

The north bailey had essential buildings, including a great hall and a tower containing royal living quarters, mostly made of stone. Timber buildings were built in the southern bailey, including kitchens, stables, and the castle farm. 


The castle was completed by this point, marked by a visit from Henry I.

-1138-1141 (Fortification)

John FitzGilbert was now the Ludgershall's custodian. During the Anarchy, he fortified the castle, as battles between King Steven and Empress Matilda had castles and lands being conquered and destroyed.  


The castle was garrisoned with foot soldiers, knights, and mounted Serjeants. By this time, the keep had been replaced with a hall, possibly containing aisles and an undercroft. Also, the ditch was fortified in the north with stone mural towers placed at intervals along the inner edge.


There is a record of a chapel in the castle by this time.


There was an order for the construction of a large oven capable of roasting "two or three oxen." The chapel was also repaired. 


In King John's hands, the castle was repaired and brought up to date to serve as a hunting lodge, which included strengthening the castle walls, the keep, and a room inside the keep. Records indicate that both King John and his son, Henry III, greatly adored the castle and invested much time, interest, and financing in transforming it throughout the years. 

-1234-1285 (Major Improvements/Additions Made)

King Henry III visited the estate at least 21 times in 17 years to improve and make additions to Ludgershall, and his successors continued work into the 14th century. Eventually, the castle was remodelled into an extravagant country house. 

The General Estate

The king's chambers were remodeled first in 1234, followed by the queen's in 1241, installing wainscotting trim and stained glass windows. By 1244, new service rooms were created, including two kitchens, one for the king and one for his household. 

This was also when the 12th-century hall was transformed into a luxurious space for dining and entertaining. There were wooden pillars, gable dormers for lighting, and the paint was made to resemble marble. The story of Dives and Lazarus was also painted on a gable wall opposite the king's dais. A new dais was later created in 1247, along with a covered passageway from the queen's chamber to the hall. 

Two privy chambers and another new chamber were built in 1251 for Henry III's son, Edward, possibly as part of a more extensive range spanned by a latrine block erected east of the tower. 

The Castle Chapels

There were two chapels circa 1234-44, one invoking St. Nicholas, the other, St. Catherine. A chalice and two sets of vestments (one for each chaplain) were purchased in 1244.

In 1250, there was an order for a statue of St. Mary and a crucifix, presumably a third chapel dedicated for the king; Another order for a statue of St. Mary and Child was recorded in 1251 for the chapel invoking St. Leonard. (It is unclear if this is the same chapel for the king or a potential fourth chapel.)

Additionally, a gown was received in 1267 for the chaplain serving the king's chapel, and one of the chapels was reconstructed in 1285.

-1317 (The King’s Manor)

Ludgershall was dubbed "The King's Manor" and was only used as a dwelling. The castle's lands were labeled a manor and its residential quarters as the king's houses. It continued to be passed through royalty and their dependents.  


Another one of the chapels was remodelled; The east window was inserted with glass depicting the Passion and the royal arms, made by John the glazier of Caine. 

-c.1403-1437 (Final Repairs)

Repairs were supposedly performed during these decades, yet records suggest the castle was infrequently visited and allowed to decay afterward. 


The castle was "clean down," with most of its buildings removed by this time, and it was levelled over to make a garden for a newly-built manor house nearby; the tower was retained as an ornamental feature.

-1964-1972 (Excavations)

The site was excavated between 1964 and 1972, which dated the buildings' development between the 11th and 13th centuries.

Ludgershall Castle Occupants

Ludgershall spent most of its existence being passed down royal lines, and much of its history is preserved through documentation of its keepers/ occupants and the goings-on in their lives. 

11th Century Occupants

c.1086-99: Edward of Salisbury, Sheriff of Wiltshire - built first stone castle

12th Century Occupants/Royal Visits

c.1100-65: John (Marshal) FitzGilbert - castellan on behalf of Henry I

1165: William FitzPeter - castellan on behalf of Henry II

1175-6: Henry II - stayed at castle during an extended visitation of the lands

1189: John (brother of King Richard) - gifted by Richard to John on his marriage to Isabel of Gloucester

1193-94: Richard I resumed castle after John's rebellion

1194: Hugh de Neville - castellan on behalf of Richard I

13th Century Occupants/Royal Visits

1200-1, ’5-6, ’7-8: King John

1210: Queen Isabel 

1213-16: King John 

1217: Henry III becomes King (Neville is still constable)

1236: Queen Elanor - castle assigned as jointure

1239, ’41, ’48: Henry III 

1261: Robert Waleran - castellan on behalf of Henry III

1262: Roger de Clifford - replaced Waleran (probably demanded by Simon de Montfort)

1263: Robert Waleran - reinstated after Clifford restored his allegiance

1267, '71: Henry III

c.1272-76: Queen Elanor - probably stayed through more years of her widowhood  

1276, '78, '81: Edward I

1291: Edmund (Edward's brother)

1294: Almaric St. Amand, Lord St. Amand - granted 'during pleasure'

14th Century Occupants

1302: Edward I

1317: Mary, sister of Edward II - granted for life

1334: Queen Phillippa - granted for life

1356: Isabel, daughter of Edward III and wife of Ingram de Coucy - granted for life

1382: Queen Anne - granted as dower

15th Century Occupants

1403: Queen Joan - granted as dower

1440: William Ludlow was granted the castle for life* 

1449: Ludlow was granted the castle in 'tail male'*

*Both grants revoked before 1453

1453: Edmund Tudor, earl of Richmond (Henry VI's half-brother) - granted by the king

1456: George, Duke of Clarence (Edward IV's brother) - granted by the king

1478: Following George's execution, Ludgershall stayed with the Crown up to 1547


 Images of Ludgershall Castle

Ludgershall Castle Ludgershall Castle
Ludgershall Castle Ludgershall Castle

Images Supplied and licensed from Shutterstock Standard Licence Package

Ludgershall Castle Q&A

What Type of Castle Was Ludgershall Castle?

Throughout its history, Ludgershall Castle has been noted as a certain Timber Castle, a certain Masonry Castle, and a certain Palace.

When Was Ludgershall Castle First Built?

As noted in the timeline, a stone castle was first built at Ludgershall circa 1086. 

How Big Was Ludgershall Castle?

At its peak, Ludgershall Castle had a three-storey tower, two chapels, five residential chambers, and a great hall on the north bailey alone. There were also several timber buildings, including kitchens, servants' quarters, and stables. 

Deep ditches stretching about 305m (1,000ft) north-to-south separated the embankment enclosures, and two large parks surrounded the estate. The south park was used as a hunting area and was probably well stocked with deer. 

What Was the Main Use of Ludgershall Castle?

The castle at Ludgershall was built adjacent to the critical Marlborough-Winchester trading route by the Sheriff of Wiltshire, Edward of Salisbury. This may have been a strategic decision, as there was certainly much to gain from such a bold choice. However, this comparatively small fortification was never engaged in military campaigns.

The estate became the property of the Crown within a few decades, undergoing multiple upgrades and serving as a royal residence and hunting lodge from then on. Indeed, records from the 13th century include the castle assigned to Queen Eleanor, improvements to the living accommodations, even an order for 119 casks of wine are indications that Ludgershall was not of strategic importance and used primarily for recreation. 

Does Any of Ludgershall Castle Still Exist?

The majority of the castle's extensive earthworks survive, but a farm with a private house now cuts through the middle of the bailey, including most of the great hall's site. Only buildings built in stone remain, though the original facings are gone, leaving a unique, flint-speckled appearance. 

The most prominent remains are those of the great tower, once the only visible remnant for over 500 years after the castle was abandoned. However, the 1960 archaeological excavations uncovered the foundations of some other rooms. 

Is the Ludgershire Cross Associated With the Castle?

The remains of the 14th-century cross sit in the centre of town at Ludgershall, just a short walk away from the castle ruins. Even though English Heritage manages the site together as Ludgershall Castle and Cross, beyond their proximity, one is not directly associated with the other; i.e., the cross is not a complementary or linked structure pertaining to ownership of the castle. 

Rather, it's believed the cross was supported by Edward III and Queen Phillippa's royal patronage, who established residency at Ludgershall Castle during Edward's reign. Both the cross and the royals' presence contributed to Ludgershall becoming an economically and culturally important town in the region.

Presumed to stand 6 to 7m (19.69 to 22.97ft) high originally, the prominently-placed cross served as a focal point for market trading and religious processions. Most crosses like this were damaged or destroyed in the 16th and 17th centuries, either during England's Reformation or the English Civil War. 

Location of Ludgershall Castle

The castle did not change locations throughout its history, though it was expanded, often rebuilt, and eventually left to decay. Much of the estate has since fallen or been taken down, its landscape disrupted by railway construction, quarrying, and other progressive actions in the following centuries. 

What remains of Ludgershall can still be seen in the small town of Ludgershall in Wiltshire. The site is on Castle Street, alongside private property and a modern farm.