FLINT

Grid Ref: SJ 247 731
Dates: 7 April 2012

 

Flint Castle
Flint Castle: A view showing two towers and part of the curtain wall


Flint Castle spacer Flint Castle
Corner tower   Donjon
Flint Castle   Flint Castle
Corner tower   Tower with part of curtain wall

 

Edward I (17/18 June 1239 – 7 July 1307) was the son of Henry III and grandson of King John. He was known as Edward Longshanks because of his height and became known as the Hammner of the Scots from his wars north of the borded. After suppressing a minor rebellion in Wales in 1276–77, Edward responded to a second rebellion in 1282–83 with a full-scale war of conquest. After a successful campaign, Edward subjected Wales to English rule, built a series of castles and towns in the countryside and settled them with English people. Flint was the first castle that he built. The location had several advantages. It was one day's march from Chester and being on the coast could be supplied by sea. In addition and perhaps somewhat surprisingly, the River Dee could be forded at low tide to Shotwick.

The design of the castle is French and is based on a square with four corner towers. Construction began on 25 July 1277. One of the corner towers is slightly separated from the curtain wall enlarged to form the keep or donjon. The architect was Richard L'Engenour and work began in 1277 using local millstone grit. The castle and surrounding earthworks employed 1,800 labourers and masons. In 1280 the master mason James of Saint George, who came from Savoy, was in charge of construction. Later he moved to oversee the work at Rhuddlan.

A market was established in the town in 1288 and a charter granted in 1284. At that time markets could be established only with the authority from the appropriate land-owner as they were a source of tax revenue. No town wall was built but there were defensive ditches. banks and palisades. The town plan was for six parallel streets running from NE to SW and the main road ran across them.

Among the many Constables of the castle was Adam de Kyngeslegh, appointed in 1371, who is said to have been an ancestor of the Victorian author, Charles Kingsley (1819 – 1875). Kingsley was an Anglican minister and social reformer. He wrote the novels Hereward the Wake (1865) and Westward Ho! (1855) but is perhaps best remembered for The Water Babies, the story of a chimney sweep boy, published in 1863.

A King's Surrender at Flint Castle

It was at Flint Castle that an important event occured in 1399. King Richard II had quarreled with his cousin, Henry Bolinbroke, so called because he was born at Bolinbroke Castle. Henry was the son of John of Gaunt, nicknamed from his birthplace of Ghent in the Low Countries. John of Gaunt was a younger son of King Edward III, who had made him Duke of Lancaster. In 1399, after John of Gaunt died, Richard II disinherited Henry who had previously been exiled. Henry invaded England with a small force at the end of June, landing at Ravenspur in Yorkshire. There he gained further support. Meanwhile Richard was in Ireland with most of his household knights and supporters from the nobility. Henry moved south with little resistance offered and Edmund Langley, Duke of York, acting as Keeper of the Realm in Richard's absence could do little to stop him. Richard did not return from Ireland until 24 July. In Conway he met with Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland for negotiations but on 19 August, Richard surrrendered to Henry at Flint Castle promising to abdicate if his life was spared. Richard died in captivity in February 1400; he is thought to have been starved to death, although questions remain regarding his final fate. Henry Bolinbroke then became King Henry IV.

The End of the Fortification

Sir Roger Mostyn held the castle for Charles I at his own expense but was compelled to surrender in 1643 through starvation. It was retaken for the Royalists by Sir William Vaughan in 1645 but the garrison surrendered to Parliament in 1646. After that, like many castles held by Royalists, it was ordered to be destroyed to prevent further use.

John Milton's friend Edward King drowned in the Dee near Flint and this inspired him to write the poem Lycidas in 1637.

Sources

The County Books Series. Wales Volume II, the Country by Maxwell Fraser, published Robert Hale, London, 1952.
The Buildings of Wales, Clwyd, by Edward Hubbard, Penguin Books, first published in 1986, ISBN0 14 071052 3

Edward I on Wikipedia
The Conquest of Wales
Flint Castle Cadw Site

Flint Castle on Wikipedia

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