Baynards Castle

Two Castles For One

Just east of Blackfriars Bridge, in roughly the same area, is the site of two castles. The first was a Norman-built construction demolished by King John (Lackland) after he was jilted by the owner's daughter. The King to a fancy to Matilda Fitzwater (the Fair) but she spurned him and would not become his mistress. Her father disappeared and she was imprisoned in the Tower of London where she died of poisoning after someone interfered with her poached eggs.

The second castle was built fifty years later and a hundred yards east of the original. Other land from the estate was given the order of Dominican monks -- giving the area its name - Blackfriars. The new fortress became a royal household and Edward IV was crowned there in 1452. It also served as the home for three of Henry Vlll's wives - Katherine of Aragorn, Anne Boleyn and Anne of Cleves. Charles ll stayed here in 1660 but the building was destroyed by fire in 1666 and never rebuilt.

When the site was excavated in the 1970s, it was revealed that the foundations were built upon the remains of a Roman wall that ran alongside the river bank. Its existence had been disputed for years. There now stands a pub on the site - the BlackFriars pub which can be seen and visited on the Six Bridges walk.