The information below is taken from Annals of
Dover, by John Bavington Jones, published by the Dover Express (1916)
celebrated Earl of Kent, was described in ancient records as the Lord
Protector of Dover. As Earl of Kent, this Castle was the seat of
his authority, and he was the originator of the fortifications which
made it a great stronghold in the latter part of the Saxon Period."
"HAROLD, son of
Godwine, was in charge of the Castle after his father's death.
Harold and his masons finished the Saxon Keep and towers which his
father began to build. Harold, during the time he was Constable,
under Edward the Confessor, was cruising in the Channel, when a storm
drove him ashore in Normandy. He was there the guest of Duke
William of Normandy, who took advantage of his position as host by
compelling Harold to swear that he would fortify the Castle of Dover,
dig a good well of water there and give it up to William. Being in
the hands of a high placed blackmailer, Harold had to swear to perform
the promise or die, but he had no intention of making good the promise,
for he did his utmost to resist William of Normandy and died in defence
of his kingdom on the field of Hastings, leaving sufficient faithful
followers to compel the Conqueror to take Dover Castle by force of
ASHBURNHAM, who had
been placed in charge of Dover Castle when Harold became King, was in
command at Dover when the Conqueror and his hosts marched against it
from Hastings. The resistance of the garrison, under the last
Saxon Constable, caused the Normans to burn the town, and when the
Castle was taken Bertram Ashburnham was beheaded."
PEVEREL, a Norman who
fought at Hastings, was placed in charge of Dover Castle after the
execution of Ashburnham, but after the Conqueror had taken full
possession of the Kingdom, it was transferred to his half-brother, Odo."
"ODO, Bishop of
Baieux, the Conqueror's half brother, immediately after the coronation,
was made Constable of Dover Castle and Earl of Kent. Lambarde
described this great Norman as being "busy, greedy, and ambitious," a
very correct description for he was immediately very busy in ejecting
the owners of Kentish Manors, and handing some of them over to Norman
Warriors, keeping 200 of them for himself. He collected great
masses of gold and silver intending to purchase therewith the Papal
Chair at Rome. The ambition of Odo aroused the jealousy of William
the Conqueror, who banished him from the Realm, and he died in exile."
FIENNES, third son of
Eustace, Earl of Boulogne, was appointed Constable in 1084. A
document in the British Museum states that "William, Duke of Normandy,
after he had by conquest acquired the Kingdom of England bestowed many
honours upon his companions and nobles. Amongst others he endowed
the Lord de Fiennes with the Constableship of Dover Castle in perpetual
fee. He also gave the same Lord 56½
Knight's fees." Because of these words "perpetual fee" it has been
asserted that the Constableship was hereditary, but the appointments of
much later Constables contained words to the same effect, but the office
was always held during the Sovereign's pleasure."
DE FIENNES and JOHN
descendants of John, held the office of Constable, but whether they
succeeded on hereditary grounds or were appointed by the Sovereign is
was appointed Constable by King Stephen. He was not a
descendant of the Fiennes family. He was a Knight serving at the
Castle under John de Fiennes II. When Queen Maud, King Stephen's
wife demanded the surrender of the Castle in 1138 Fiennes was away in
the Midlands and Walkelin, who was in charge surrendered to her the
son of Stephen, was made Constable towards the end of Stephen's
reign, but he dying in 1153, Walkelin seems to have been in charge again
until the end of the reign."
was appointed Constable early in the reign of Henry II., but it
appears that although Walkelin Mamignot fled at the death of Stephen, he
was continued in his office until his death. Robert Fitz-Bernard
was in office when the Norman buildings in the Castle were commenced.
William Cade, Prepositus of Dover was associated with him in the work."
MARA succeeded to
the Constableship in 1169 and held it eighteen years."
some writers have taken for Alan Fiennes, became Constable in 1187, and
held office during the building of the Norman Keep. The builders
in charge of the work were William Fitz-Helte and William d'Enemada,
assisted by Philip de Pising, Godwin Fitz-Amfride, Walter d'Estrea, and
Joseph de Dover. The building was completed in 188, and the money
expended during the previous seven years on the Keep, with the curtain
wall and towers, was £4,500."
appointed Constable in 1190. Soon after he was made Constable by
Richard I., Jeffery, a natural son of the late King, landed at Dover to
take the post of Archbishop of York, his appointment having, it was
alleged, the Pope's authority. The Pope's Legate in England did
not recognise the appointment, and gave orders for his arrest on
landing, to avoid which Jeffery fled for sanctuary to the altar of Dover
Priory. By the order of the Legate, the Constable and his
men-at-arms marched into the Priory Church and dragged him up to the
Castle, where he and his retinue were imprisoned, whereupon several of
the Bishops and Barons raised a force and rfeleased the Archbishop, who
proceded on his journey to York. For this violation of the Church,
the Constable was deprived of his office."
WROTHAM is the
next Constable on the list, having been appointed A.D. 1195.
Several other names are given as having been in the office of Constable
about this time, but they appeared to be unauthorised."
BASSET, Lord of
Hedenden, filled the office of Constable for a short time, A.D. 1201.-2."
BURGH was one of
the great Constables. From his first appointment until he finally
vacated the office was a period of thirty years, 1202-1232, but from
1203 to 1215 Baron Huntingfield, William de
Longspée, Geoffrey Fitz-Pier, and Lord Torbay,
successively filled the office for short periods."
"Henry de Braibroc, Robert de Nereford, and
Hugh de Windsor, were Constables of no historic importance."
Archbishop of Canterbury, who was Constable from the 30th December,
1223, to the 22nd January, 1224, was such a short time in office that he
could only have been appointed for some special object, which is not
left on record; but the important part he played with regard to the
Magna Charta makes him an illustrious link in the long chain of
"Geoffery de Lucy, Hubert Hoese de Hoese, and
Geoffrey de Surland, were Constables between 1224 and 1226."