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Westenhanger Castle

Westenhanger Castle sits snuggly tucked away next to Fokestone Racecourse, barely visible from the main A20 road between Ashford & Hythe. How many times i must have passed by this hidden treasure as a kid without any idea what lay behind the trees. This is until one day my curiosity led me off the main road into the village of Westenhanger, almost out the other side down a track on the left beside the racecourse, and behold a fabulous castle set beautifully in its manicured lawns, framed with ancient trees. It is understood that there may well have been a Royal Palace on the site as far back as the Saxon age in the days when Kent had its own King. A castle started to take shape during the 12th century and it is from this era the northern wall Rosamunds Tower takes its name. Rosamund Clifford was a mistress to King Henry II and was described as the 'most beautiful woman in the world', and is reputed to have stayed here and received secret visits from the King.

History of Westenhanger Castle

1100 ~ The manor of Westenhanger is owned by the Auberville family, descendants of William de Ogburville, knight of William the Conqueror.

1343 ~ John de Kiriel is licensed by Edward III to fortify his manor house.

1460 ~ Sir Thomas de Kiriel is slain at the second Battle of St Albans whilst fighting for the House of York. (more in the History section)

Castle today

The current castle we see today was built in the mid 14th century and was defended by a wet moat, walls some 4 feet thick and at its peak is said to have 365 windows and 126 rooms. At one point the now dry moat was fed from damning and re-routing the River Stour and measured some 50 feet across Today the castle is a private home, used for wedding venues and conferences, but is open to the intrepid explorer if you ask nicely! Years after finding this lovely castle, we returned to choose this as the venue for our wedding, which as you can see from the photo's, is the perfect setting for a Castle Finders Wedding.

Text by Fred Vincnet