Wisbech grew around the original Norman Castle, constructed by William the Conqueror at a strategically important location at the head of the estuary created by the waters of the River Ouse (or Wyse) and the River Nene. The Castle site was subsequently developed by The Bishop’s of Ely and John Thurloe, Secretary of State to Oliver Cromwell. The present regency villa is owned and operated by Cambridgeshire County Council and used as a Professional Development Centre, providing a venue for meetings and training. School visits also take place and the property is licensed for Civil Weddings
The Castle is also available for private function bookings
A castle was reared here by order of the Conqueror to command the mouth of the Ouse, which then flowed in its old channel at this point ; now the river flows into the Wash at the town of Kings Lynn. This castle appears to have been destroyed during a great storm and inundation in the year 1236, and on the site of it the Bishop of Ely built a new castle, which was one of the chief residences of that See, and was rebuilt by Bishop Morton in 1480.
It afterwards became a Royal prison: here the last Abbot of Westminster, John Feckenham, was confined for many years (temp. Elizabeth), and here he died. Catesby also, the Gunpowder Plot conspirator, was confined here. It is said that King John lodged at the old castle on October 7, 1216, the night previous to his disastrous attempt to cross the Wash with his army, when he lost his regalia and baggage and treasure, which so irritated and disturbed his mind that an accession of the sickness from which he suffered resulted and he died ten days afterwards.
Only the foundations are now to be seen, the site being partly laid out as an ornamental garden, and partly built on. (Castles Of England, Sir James D. Mackenzie, 1896)
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