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Thornbury Castle - was it built as a castle or a palace?

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THORNBURY CASTLE Thornbury Castle was it built as a castle or a palace? Edward Stafford 3rd Duke of Buckingham started building Thornbury castle in 1510. The castle was never completed so it's hard to tell if it was a castle or a palace. Thornbury is situated in the south west of England near the river Severn. Thornbury is an ideal stopping place for journeys between London and the welsh marsh. There are lots of farms in the area and Bristol is a good source for luxury goods. These are good reasons for building the castle in Thornbury but why is at the bottom of a hill when it could have been at the top of Thornbury hill this suggests that it was not designed with a serious purpose of defence. The outer walls give the appearance of a castle; it has arrow slits, cannon holes and battlements. The canon holes are barely big enough for muskets this gives the impression that it was not built with a serious purpose of defence. The outer walls are about 6 metres high and only 1 metre thick, the stones used to make the wall were not very big. The wall would not stand for long if they were up against a canon this makes the castle very vulnerable. There is a stream near by that could have been used for a moat but as the castle is not complete it is not possible to know if it was going to be. ...read more.


The west fronts stone work is very strong typical of a defensive castle. Embedded in this virtually impregnable wall are some cross cross slits that are again a very castle like feature that Buckingham liked. There is one turret on the west front that was completed; it has machicolations and battlements around the top a very defensive feature. All of these things indicate that it was a castle. But there are some palace features that let the west front down, it has windows on the second floor and the wall was only half its intended height this makes the castle vulnerable this indicates that it was a palace. If the west front was finished it would have been strong with its 4 turrets and 2 towers the only thing that indicates this is a palace is the main gateway. The main gateway may have a double portcullis, but it has a dramatic window that is clearly for showing off Buckingham's status. Other gatehouses of grand houses are quite similar (see fig 1&2 on sources page). These were clearly the fashion at the time and Buckingham was showing off this suggests that Buckingham was building something to show his wealth, not for security. The inner court is 120 feet deep and 110 feet wide, not designed for defence but for grandeur. It now has only 3 sides one has either never been completed or has fallen down historians disagree on this aspect. ...read more.


The coat of arms say all of his titles but there is one left blank which is quite large this could have been intended for king of England. This would explain why he had a private army and Thornbury Castle this could be the reason why he was executed. Other castles and manor houses/palaces were in this kind of style at the time if you look at sources 3&4 you can see the castle like battlements and turrets. The palace features like large windows all of these are also at Thornbury castle this suggests that Thornbury is a just fitting in the style and fashion at the time. If you look at real castle like the tower of London you do not see thin walls and windows unlike Thornbury castle. Thornbury castle has many features that point to a castle and others that point to a palace because the palace was uncompleted it makes the decision very hard to make. This historian said 'I believe it may be true to say that Thornbury was the last English castle to be built with a serious purpose of defence'. On the other hand K.B.McFarlane considered Thornbury indefensible and regarded the military features 'only as romantic adjuncts of nobility'. I think that Thornbury castle does not stand up to its name because it is a palace designed to look like a castle; if you take a close look it is plain to see that it is a palace. ...read more.

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