1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Carisbrooke

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CARISBROOKE, a town in the Isle of Wight, England, 1 m. S. of Newport. Pop. (1901) 3993. The valley of the Lugley brook separates the village from the steep conical hill crowned by the castle, the existence of which has given Carisbrooke its chief fame. There are remains of a Roman villa in the valley, but no reliable mention of Carisbrooke occurs in Saxon times, though it has commonly been identified with the Saxon Wihtgaraburh captured by Cerdic in 530. Carisbrooke is not mentioned by name in the Domesday Survey, but Bowcombe, its principal manor, was a dependency of the royal manor of Amesbury, and was obtained from the king by William Fitz Osbern in exchange for three Wiltshire manors. The castle is mentioned in the Survey under Alvington, and was probably raised by William Fitz Osbern, who was made first lord of the Isle of Wight. From this date lordship of the Isle of Wight was always associated with ownership of the castle, which thus became the seat of government of the island. Henry I. bestowed it on Richard de Redvers, in whose family it continued until Isabella de Fortibus sold it to Edward I., after which the government was entrusted to wardens as representatives of the crown. The keep was added to the castle in the reign of Henry I., and in the reign of Elizabeth, when the Spanish Armada was expected, it was surrounded by an elaborate pentagonal fortification. The castle was garrisoned by Baldwin de Redvers for the empress Maud in 1136, but was captured by Stephen. In the reign of Richard II. it was unsuccessfully attacked by the French; Charles I. was imprisoned here for fourteen months before his execution. Afterwards his two youngest children were confined in the castle, and the Princess Elizabeth died there. In 1904 the chapel of St Nicholas in the castle was reopened and reconsecrated, having been rebuilt as a national memorial of Charles I. The remains of the castle are extensive and imposing, and the keeper’s house and other parts are inhabited, but the king’s apartments are in ruins. Within the walls is a well 200 ft. deep; and another in the centre of the keep is reputed to have been still deeper. The church of St Mary, Carisbrooke, has a beautiful Perpendicular tower, and contains transitional Norman portions. Only the site can be traced of the Cistercian priory to which it belonged. This was founded shortly after the Conquest and originated from the endowment which the monks of Lyre near Evreux held in Bowcombe, including the church, mill, houses, land and tithes of the manor. Richard II. bestowed it on the abbey of Mountgrace in Yorkshire. It was restored by Henry IV., but was dissolved by act of parliament in the reign of Henry V., who bestowed it on his newly-founded charter-house at Sheen. Carisbrooke formerly had a considerable market, several mills, and valuable fisheries, but it never acquired municipal or representative rights, and was important only as the site of the castle.

See Victoria County History—Hampshire; William Westall, History of Carisbrooke Castle (1850).