History of Wallingford
Wallingford, founded by King Alfred in the early 10th century is a good example of Saxon burgh or fortified town with the earthwork defences to be seen to this day, possibly the finest surviving in the country. At this time Wallingford was much larger than Oxford and equal in size to the Wessex capital Winchester.
After his victory at Hastings in 1066 William the conqueror met fierce resistance at Southwark so he marched his army to ford the Thames at Wallingford on his way to be crowned King on Christmas day, as he met no opposition and realising the strategic importance of the town he gave instructions for a castle to be built, taking nearly four years to build it was completed in 1071. It was built to the usual Norman plan with Motte and Bailey, then in the early 13th century it was extended and again in the second half making it one of the most important castles in England. Wallingford’s was a Royal castle associated with many medieval Kings and Queens, during the civil war it was a royalist stronghold and held out against Cromwell for 16 weeks before surrendering to him, then for a few years it was used as a prison but the danger of it becoming a stronghold once again was to great a risk for it to remain, so in 1652 Cromwell’s council of state ordered it to be pulled down stone by stone. Very little now remains of the castle on the green mounds of the beautiful Castle Gardens. King Henry II granted a charter to Wallingford in 1155, 32 years before London received theirs.