The Normans -

and the Castle of Bromwich

 

The Norman period takes its name from the invasion of England by William, Duke of Normandy in 1066. Normandy is part of France and is named after the Viking invaders, the Northmen. William's great great great great grandfather was a Viking. 


However, the Normans spoke French, and the kings and lords and courts of England continued to use Norman French until the 15th century. 

 

The Castle of Bromwich did not look like this!
The Castle of Bromwich did not look like this!

 

The Battle of Hastings

 

On 14th October 1066 Duke William of Normandy defeated Harold, the Anglo-Saxon king of England at the Battle of Hastings. He became known as King William the Conqueror

 

In a very short time he conquered the whole of England. 

 

King William rewarded his followers at the Battle of Hastings by giving them land across the country. Most of the Anglo-Saxon lords had their lands taken off them and new Norman lords took their place.

 

Most of the manors around Birmingham now had Norman lords, including Castle Bromwich.

In 1086 the Domesday Book was put together to give King William information about all the lords and their manors. The Domesday Book lists Ralph of Bromwich as the lord of the manor. 

 

The Bromwich entry in the Domesday Book 1086

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Radulf (Ralph) holds 3 hides from William in Bromwich. There is land for 3 plough teams. In the demesne there is 1 plough team, 10 villeins and 3 bordars have 3 plough teams.

There is woodland 1 league long and half a league wide. The value was and is 40 shillings. Brictwin held it in the time of King Edward.

 

(Find out more about Castle Bromwich in the Domesday Book by clicking here.)

 

Ralph was the new Norman lord who had taken the manor of Castle Bromwich from the Anglo-Saxon lord, Brictwin. We do not know what happened to Brictwin. But we do know that Ralph passed the manor down through his descendants for the next 600 years.

 

If you want to know about the Lords of the Manor of Castle Bromwich over a thousand years, you've come to the right place. Click the coat of arms.



Castle Bromwich Castle

Conjectural drawing of the Norman castle at Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk from the St Edmundsbury website
Conjectural drawing of the Norman castle at Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk from the St Edmundsbury website

To make sure that they had control of the Anglo-Saxon people, King William's Norman lords built castles all around the country, including at Castle Bromwich. The small hill overlooking the Chester Road where it crossed the River Tame was a good place. 

 

Bromwich castle was was made of wood - it was never a large stone castle like the castles at Tamworth and Warwick.

 

There was a probably a square wooden watchtower three storeys high on top of the steep hill (the motte) surrounded by a fence of sharpened tree trunks.

 

Below was the bailey. This was a large yard where the lord's main hall stood. In the bailey there also were stables for horses and workshops. A high wooden fence surrounded the bailey and, for further protection, there was a moat 8 metres wide and 4 metres deep. On the north side there was no need for a moat: the River Tame ran here.

 

The Castle Hill in 1934
The Castle Hill in 1934

The castle of Bromwich was not lived in for very long. After a while, the lord of Bromwich built himself a new manor house somewhere nearby. It may have been where the Chelmsley Collector Road is, or it may have been built where Castle Bromwich Hall stands now. In either case, the evidence of it has probably been destroyed. 

 

When the new manor house was built, there was no need for a castle at Bromwich and the old wooden fort fell into ruins and the hill became overgrown with with bushes and trees. 

 

Castle Bromwich Church

 

Castle Bromwich church is first recorded in a document of 1165. But it may be older than that. It was built to serve the Norman lord of the castle possibly soon after 1066. But it was not a church in its own right, just a chapel. The priest here was sent here from Aston church, but paid by the lord of the manor of Castle Bromwich. 

 

The first church was not a large building, about the size of a small house. And, although the church has been rebuilt twice since Norman times, part of the walls of the 11th-century chapel still survive.

 

In 1893 Charles Bateman, an architect who was working on the church, took off some of the wooden panels inside the church. Beneath them he could see the ancient stones placed here by the Norman builders 900 years ago.

 

No-one knows if there was a bell at the Norman church of Castle Bromwich. There may well have been. Church bells were common in Anglo-Saxon times well before the Normanx came. There may have been a small bellcote at the west end like this one in Dorset.

 

Click here to discover the history of Castle Bromwich bells on this website.

 

And the bells are still ringing at Castle Bromwich.

Have a look at the Castle Bromwich Bell Ringers' website

to see what we've been up to. Click on the bell!

The website opens on a new page.

 

 

 

For a list of the priests at Castle Bromwich from 1558, click here.

Weblinks

Click the banner to open this Year 7 website on a new page.

 

      < or this website. Click the banner. 

 


After the Norman Conquest William's half-brother had a tapestry telling the story of William's successful invasion of England. the tapestry is now at Bayeux in France.  In 1895 Elizabeth Wardle and ladies of the Leek Embroidery Society finished a copy of the tapestry which can be seen in the Museum at Reading, Berkshire.

 

Click the banner to open the website on a new page.

'A History of Castle Bromwich for Young People' written by William Dargue 2016 for the Castle Bromwich Bellringers.

We’ve been ringing here for 500 years and are keen to involve local people in our ancient art. Contact us via our Castle Bromwich Bell Ringers website if you want learn to ring or visit the tower or have one of us talk to your group about the history of Castle Bromwich, our church or bellringing.  Material on this site may be reused only for non-commercial purposes providing appropriate attribution is given (Creative Commons Licence Attribution NonCommercial 4.0) - details on the Contact page.