Hedingham Castle was effective as a defensive structure for many reasons that were clearly taken into account when being built, and its location was a vital aspect to be considered whence doing this. Hedingham Castle was erected on a high lying area of land. This gave the inhabitants a great advantage. This made the residents an easy view of the surrounding area, and it would have been quite problematic for any attackers to approach the castle unseen.
This put the defenders one step ahead of the invaders, which was crucial in such an important time.I could see this when visiting the castle and going to the highest authorized room for tourists. The whole of the surrounding area was visible from the windows. The castle at Hedingham was the only one in the surrounding area.
This was quite an effective defensive mechanism. The castle would have therefore seemed far more intimidating to anyone entering the area in which it is located. This aspect of the castle is designed to scare away any potential attackers or to frighten them further if they do attack.The location of the castle in the country is excellent in defending England and the monarchy. It can be found in Essex, which is just north of the Thames, the largest river in the country.
Because of its size and location in England many foreign attackers may decide to enter the country via the Thames; being close to the river meant that attackers entering England via the Thames and heading north were likely to pass Hedingham Castle. Consequently, Hedingham could play a great part in defending Britain from international invasions. Also, the Thames was, and continues to be, a major trading route.This means that under siege they could generally be supplied with food and supplies when necessary, and also that inhabitants at Hedingham could intercept any illegal or suspicious correspondence that passed. How Hedingham Castle was built was also very important to help defend the castle. Firstly, Hedingham was built with a stone square keep.
At the time of construction square keeps were the most up to date, and therefore the most defensive of all available designs. It was far more intimidating than the previous motte and bailey design.It was taller, which, in additional to being situated on a hill, made it a lot easier to see far. And stone was, of course, the most protective kind of material to build a castle from, compared with wood, which could have been easily broken or burnt down.
From my visit to Hedingham I noted the walls were approximately ten feet thick. It was necessary for walls to be of such a great thickness to protect the castle from the most modern weapons of the time, such as the trebuchet or the mangonel, which a motte and bailey could previously not withstand.There were many exterior properties of the castle that aided in defending the castle effectively. For example, the crenulations, which assisted in protecting the guards at the top of castle. And the windows, which are narrow on the outside but, increase in size inside the castle. This allows for archers to shoot with ease at anyone who may be outside the castle, but prevents any attacking arrows to get inside the castle.
When visiting the castle, there were holes by the entrance door. These were for a portcullis.When the portcullis was used this would have been tremendous in defending the castle as it was almost impossible to break, and would have therefore prevented attackers entering through the front door. Internally, there were few defensive mechanisms. One that I can name is the way that the staircases were made so that if you were travelling down them, and you were right-handed, you could easily attack someone at the bottom with your sword. If under siege, the defenders would have to live in the castle all year round; because of this the rooms would have to be comfortable enough to live in for a long time.
To ensure this, fireplaces and other means of keeping warm would have to be put in place. And although when visiting the castle myself, I could not see any other means, there was at least two main fire places that could be located in the two main rooms, on separate floors. This could ensure mild comfort throughout a siege even in the coldest weather. However, Hedingham Castle was not always at war, and the practicalities of living in a castle during peacetime had to be taken into consideration whilst constructing this building.Location was mainly a prominent issue for defensive reasons, but placing Hedingham Castle on top of a hill had a great influence on the residents surrounding the castle.
They would all know how expensive a structure like Hedingham Castle could cost. This would have shown how rich and powerful the owners of Hedingham were. Also, if any important visitors happened to come to Hedingham Castle they would be equally impressed even before entering the building to see its extravagant interior. Mainly the interior and style was most important for when the castle wasn't under siege.This can be seen when visiting the castle. There are many extravagant and richly coloured cloths and furnishings laid out in large, striking rooms throughout the castle.
The main room for instance, would have been used for, what are known as today as, town meetings. Because of this the room encompasses extraordinary decorations carved into the stone, high ceilings and impressive furniture, to stir those who attended the meetings. But practically, the room was large, so to fit many people in it.