Old Pictures of Castle Hedingham - the Castle
There exist countless old photographs of Castle Hedingham, some dating back to the 19th Century. Many are preserved on old postcards; sending a friend a card depicting a local view was luckily very popular. Those shown below which include captions superimposed on the image are examples. We have very little information about the photographs here; if anyone can tell us more we'd like to hear.
Our first page of photographs focuses on the castle itself.
The pictures above and below are similar, but taken from opposite sides of the lake (or “Canal”, as it is known locally). The picture below is postmarked July 15th 1904, whilst the first is undated; however, it must be of similar age. The pictures show the Norman keep for which the village is famous on the left, and the early C18th mansion on the right. Although little has changed, this view is now largely obscured by the hedges which have been grown around the gardens in front of the mansion, and by the trees which have grown taller both around the lake and the ringwork.
Someone has written "Living Whist: Henry Baines" on the back of this picture. It was obviously taken behind the castle mansion, on the "Tulip Lawn", so named because of its rare tulip tree. Its branches are the ones hanging into the picture from top left; it's reputed to be three or four hundred years old. Judging by the large assembly, we suspect that the occasion was entertainment laid on by the Majendies (who owned the castle estate) for those more respectable of the inferior residents of Hedingham! The Baines family owned the building that is now home to The Art Place (before that, Buckley-Saxon Cycles); it was a general store then. Their son, Wilfred, died at Ypres.
We find this picture startling both because of how little has changed and how much has changed. It's not a view that visiting members of the public get today, because the roof of the keep isn't opened. However, Simon Daw took a photo of the same view a few years ago, when he worked at the castle; it makes an interesting comparison. Castle Hedingham seems to have changed very little - the newer buildings haven't changed the roofscape particularly, with the significant buildings (church, chapel and schools) remaining. However, the cultivated area to the right - once used for growing hops - is now dense woodland. Sible Hedingham grew massively during the twentieth century, and on my modern photograph the fields in the distance have largely gone. This postcard was posted in 1908, and the photo must, we think, have been taken after 1906, because the church clock seems to be present.
This is the reverse side of the card above; you'll need to open the enlargement to be able top read it. The address from which the card was written still exists, in neighbouring Sible Hedingham.
This is the Banqueting Hall, the second floor of the keep. It's the most spectacular, and may once have been open to the roof; some believe that a new floor was later inserted to provide more space, and that the dormitory floor above is therefore not an original feature. The Banqueting Hall features a magnificent arch, which is said to be the largest surviving from this period in western Europe.
This picture must have been taken at about the same time. We're not sure whether this was before or after the fire of 1918, when a dislodged brazier, in use by lookouts during the First World War, resulted in the keep being completely burnt out. Much of the furniture in this view has survived (although it's not all on display in the keep anymore), so it's possible that these pictures were taken after the fire - possibly to celebrate the insertion of the new floors, even.
This scene has changed little, except that the viewpoint is now obscured by trees. The card is postmarked 1906.
It's likely that this photograph, which was kindly provided by villager Andy Smith, was probably also taken in the early C20th, although it's obviously hard to be sure. It must have been taken from a few hundred metres north-east of the keep, because the roof of the mansion can just be seen behind the trees to the left of the keep, and that of the stable almost directly in line with it. The trees in this part of the castle park are now very much taller, so the keep can only just be seen from the fields on this side of the castle, and not at all from the spot from which the picture was taken.