The Rise and Fall of Hertford Castle



Ancestral / Migrations

The Tour / Experience:

Hertford Castle was founded by William the Conqueror, besieged in the reign of King John, it became a favoured royal residence and Elizabeth I spent part of her childhood here and as Queen often stayed here.

This guided walk explores the castle – a fortress that became a royal palace. In the Middle Ages kings granted the castle to their queens.  Foreign kings were held hostage here, there were royal marriages, deaths and the birth of a Spanish queen.  But side by side with the luxury of the royal court it was also home to the assizes and the gaol.  Parliament and the law courts relocated from London in times of plague.  It became a private house and some of the tenants were involved in scandal and accusations of murder.  Later it was re modelled as a gentleman’s home in the latest fashionable style with that “must-have” accessory – an ice house.

Our tour looks at the remains of the impressive castle wall and the Gatehouse, an important and early example of brick building that foreshadowed later, more famous examples.  And we tell the story of the castle, how it shaped the town and fortunes of Hertford. It also has links to the American War of Independence and the American Constitution which may surprise you.

Tour lasts 1 hour and will follow the government guidelines on social distancing.

Please note due to COVID-19 it will not be possible to visit the interior of the Gatehouse


The Highlights: 

  • Siege of Hertford Castle and its links to Magna Carta – one of the inspirations for the American constitution
  • Medieval Gatehouse is an early example of a brick gatehouse built by Edward IV
  • Icehouse and the story of the first English recipe for ice cream. You may be surprised at the popular flavour for early ice cream. It wasn’t vanilla!
  • 900 years old castle motte by the River Lea


Tour Details:

Start: War Memorial, Parliament Square, Hertford

End: Hertford Castle


Contact Details: 


Tour gallery

About the guide

Name: Elizabeth Eastwood

Qualifications: East of England

Languages: English