Of the Odiham Castle, one of the three ones built by the not so loved King John, only two ruined buildings are left today, around Odhinam, in Hampshire, known as King John’s Castle.
The King had it built between 1207 ans 1214, especially as a dwelling for hunting , which soon became a military stronghold as the years of King John’s to the throne were pretty troubled, hit by several inside conflicts like the Barons war, great landowners who forced him to sign the “Magna Carta”.
The missed observance of the Carta led the rebel Barons to seek help from the French, that in 1216 attacked the castle of Odiham, defended by just 13 soldiers and eventually conquered it in just 2 weeks.
Below: picture by Babelstone shared via Wikipedia – licence Creative Commons
The quick death of King John in 1216 spared the two countries from entering into war: the stronghold was renewed by adding new defensive measurements like the octagonal tower and an inside ditch.
The aspect of the castle was rather unusual, with thick walls almost entirely made out of flint and the narrowed arches of bricks to define some of the openings.
The tower with an octagonal plan, the only part of the castle which is still standing, is one of its kind in Great Britain. By using a bit of fantasy it is possible to imagine how the castle could be majestic as well as fairy-tale like, a perfect scenario for King Arthur’s deeds, Lancelot, Guinevere and Merlin.
The castle, even after King John’s death, was centre of intrigues and inside battles: the fort had been given, as a wedding gift, to Eleanor, sister of Henry 3rd who had ascended to the throne, at the age of 9) after the death of his father John.
Eleanor got married for her second time with Simon de Montfort, Count of Leicester, who had the awful idea to lead the second Baron war against the King- brother in law. The Count was killed in 1265 and Eleanor was sent to exile while Odiham came back to the crown.
Almost 100 years after, in 1346, the castle got turned into the prison of King David 2nd of Scotland then, from the 15th century it was used only as a hunting dwelling up until its complete abandonment.
Since the early 600’s, the fort was already a ruined building, only a sad memory of the greatness of those sovereigns wile John and his brother Richard 1st, who entered the legend.