CASTLE OF DUDLEY
This castle is situated in the District of Dudley, Midlands Region, not far from Birmingham.
Originally a wooden motte and bailey castle built soon after the Norman Conquest, it was rebuilt as a stone fortification during the twelfth century but subsequently demolished on the orders of King Henry II. Rebuilding of the castle took place from the second half of the thirteenth century and culminated in the construction of a range of buildings within the fortifications by John Dudley. The fortifications were slighted by order of Parliament during the English Civil War and the residential buildings destroyed by fire in 1750. In the nineteenth century and early twentieth century the site was used for fêtes and pageants.Today Dudley Zoo is located on its grounds.
Historians usually date the castle from soon after the Norman Conquest of 1066. It is thought one of the Conqueror’s followers, Ansculf de Picquigny, built the first wooden castle in 1070. The first stone castle was built by the Paganel family but following a failed rebellion against King Henry II, the castle was demolished by order of the king. Then it was the turn of the Somery’s dynasty to own the site and Roger de Somery II set about rebuilding the castle in 1262. Construction was carried on by Roger’s heirs until the 14th century . The last of the male line of Somery, John Somery, died in 1321. Subsequently the castle was owned by the successors of the family, John and Margaret de Sutton, who used Dudley as a surname.
Then the property was seized by a favourite of King Edward II, Hugh Despenser, who owned the castle from 1325-1326 and was dispossessed when the king fell from power. The castle was returned to John and Margaret in 1327. A chapel and great chamber were added within the castle walls by their son, John Sutton II.
In 1532, another John Sutton (the seventh in the Dinasty named John) inherited the castle but, following financial difficulties, was ousted by a relative, John Dudley, in 1537. The later was executed in 1553 for his attempt to set Lady Jane Grey on the throne of England. During his ownership, a range of new buildings were added within the ancient castle walls. The castle was returned to the Sutton family by Queen Mary.
Later on, during the first English Civil War, the castle was held by a Royalist Garrison commanded by a local Catholic, Colonel, Thomas Leveson, besieged by parliamentary forces in 1644 and surrendered on 13 May 1646. The castle was then partly demolished on the order of Parliament to prevent it being used again.
Much later, In 1937, when the Dudley Zoo was established, the castle grounds were incorporated into the Zoo. It is now a ruined fortification in the town of Dudley.