Dating back to the 11th century, Eynsford Castle is one of the earliest examples of a stone enclosure castle in England.
It started out as a raised area of ground with a wooden tower upon it, next to the River Darent. The man-made site had been in use during Saxon times, but work on EynsfordCastle did not begin until 1088 when William de Eynsford inherited the manor from his father. In about 1088 the raised earth platform was surrounded by a 6 metre (20ft) tall wall made of coursed flint rubble.
An assortment of 12th century buildings were enclosed in the bailey. The most important were the living accommodation, with a private solar, and a large hall placed on the first floor. The hall was destroyed by fire early in 1250 and major rebuilding was required. Much of the debris from the fire fell through the floor of the undercroft and the builders merely raised the floor level to contain the waste material. Today only the massive walls of the undercroft remain. At the same time that these building works were being carried out, a main gatehouse was added. Only a small remnant now exists and it is difficult to be sure what the exact shape was, but it may have been a rectangular, single storey building.
EynsfordCastle was abandoned less than one hundred years later following the intentional destruction of the living accommodation. The estate was bought by the Harts of nearby LullingstoneCastle in the early 16th century, and it was their descendants who converted the ruins of EynsfordCastle for use as stables and hunting kennels in the mid 18th century. By the end of the 19th century conservation work had begun but, regrettably, the castle ruins were largely unrecognisable through natural decay and disregard.
Huge rocky sections of the curtain wall have survived, some standing to a height of 30ft (9m), and signs of the latrines can be found along them. The stone gate tower to the south dates from the early 12th century, but all other patchy remains date from the 13th century new building.
There is a car park
There is wheelchair access to the castle
Suitable for picnics
Dogs allowed on leads
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Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015