Expansion of Wallingford
King John extended the castle, and met discontented barons here. Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall, brother of Henry III spent a lot on making the castle even grander.
Prince Edward (later Edward I) was held captive at Wallingford by Simon de Montfort – when an attempt was made to rescue him, de Montfort threatened to fire him out of the castle on a catapult. Others were to be imprisoned here.
Edward II and Isabella
Edward II gave Wallingford Castle first to his favourite Piers Gaveston, and later Hugh Despencer, both unpopular choices with the barons. He relented and gave the castle to his wife, Isabella. When Isabella and Roger Mortimer became lovers and plotters against Edward, she issued a proclamation from Wallingford Castle offering £2000 for Hugh Despencer’s head. After the Despencers were captured and killed, Isabella and Mortimer had a royal feast at Wallingford, and Mortimer was made its constable.
Edward the Black Prince and Joan of Kent
In 1335 Wallingford became part of the Duchy of Cornwall, given to the king’s eldest son. Edward Duke of Cornwall, later the Black Prince, was first to benefit. Edward married Joan of Kent, and gave her the castle. Joan died here, apparently of a broken heart, believing her son John Holland was to be executed for an accidental killing, although he was later reprieved.
Isabelle de Valois
Isabelle de Valois, the 11-year-old consort of Richard II took refuge at Wallingford Castle when Richard went to Ireland. However, Henry of Bolingbroke (later Henry IV) took advantage of Richard’s absence to raise an army and killed the king on his return. Isabelle later married Charles Duke of Orleans, who would later be imprisoned in Wallingford Castle, after the battle of Agincourt.
Catherine de Valois and Owen Tudor
Catherine de Valois, Isabelle’s sister and widow of Henry V was given Wallingford Castle. She is believed to have met Owen Tudor here, when Owen was helping to bring up the future Henry VI. The romance of Catherine and Owen led to the Tudor dynasty, but didn’t prevent Owen from being imprisoned at Wallingford after Catherine’s death.
Henry VIII, Charles I, and the end of the line
Henry VII gave Wallingford Castle to his son, Prince Arthur. When Arthur died as a boy, it passed to Prince Henry, later Henry VIII. However, Henry preferred nearby Ewelme Manor, and thus ended the use of the castle by the crown, until Charles I used it as a military base in the Civil War.