The Chiltern Hills has a number of castles, not all grand and serving cream teas, but structures that played an important part in the rise and fall of the national and local fortunes. I feel they have slipped from our collective conscious, they need us to visit them, to feel their flinty walls, enjoy the wild flowers that have colonised the brick and stones and share our photos.
I have written about reclaiming two castles so far; Berkhamsted and Someries Castles, both scheduled ancient monuments, and will keep adding to this over time. Your suggestions, as ever, are most welcome.
Seen mostly from commuter trains, I expect Berkhamsted castle is one of those landmarks that is just no longer noticed. A scheduled ancient monument, the castle had a lucky escape – not from French siege engines, but from those bringing a new prosperity to the Chilterns countryside.
The ruined structure lies beside an old road between Luton and Kimpton, situated on a plateau of the Chilterns, to the east of the Lea Valley. Everything about this place just feels weird. Why am I here, at the end of a dusty lane on the edge of a busy runway? To look at a mystery wrapped up within an enigma: Someries Castle, which is not in fact a castle, but a fortified Manor House. But I’m not fussy!
Just off the A418, once the turnpike between Thame and Aylesbury, is the small village of Dinton in the Vale of Aylesbury. As with so many ‘if you blink you’ll miss them’ English villages and hamlets, I was delighted that I had stopped to explore the pretty village and its castle, and was intrigued by what I saw. Not realising at the time, the historical significance and surprising stories of a royal executioner, a ghost and a hermit with his leather shoes.