Surprising coincidences have emerged during research:
In 1373 while Sir William Asthorpe was "Keeper of the Channel Islands" Jersey was attacked by a large French force under the command of Bertrand du Guesclin, Constable of France. The French forces overran Jersey, captured Grosnez Castle and besieged Mont Orgueil (then known as Gurri or Gorey Castle). Following valiant fighting by both sides, the English retreated into Mont Orgueil's massive castle keep and there was stalemate.
Sir William negotiated honourable terms with du Guesclin under which the French would temporarily withdraw, but unless relieved by the English fleet within the next two months, the English would surrender the Castle at Michaelmas. Luckily the fleet did arrive in time. Subsequently, repeated raiding by the French was stopped by the payment of ransom.
Perhaps the negotiations were helped by the fact that the family of Sir William's wife, Margaret Dynham, originated from Dinan in France – as did Bertrand du Guesclin?
In 1600, while Sir Walter Raleigh was Governor of Jersey with its new Elizabeth Castle, he resisted pressure to demolish the now dilapidated and obsolescent Mont Orgueil Castle. He decided to keep it as a prison and as a refuge in time of war.
In fact, Mont Orgueil was needed again as a defence against the French in the late 18th century and 19th century.
However, Sir Walter was not so lucky. He later fell from favour and was sentenced to death in 1603, by Lord Chief Justice Sir John Popham – the owner of Hemyock Castle!
In fact, Sir Walter was imprisoned in the Tower of London until 1616; pardoned by King James I in 1617; led a disastrous expedition to Venezuela; re-arrested and executed on his return in 1618, at Spanish insistence.
Remember, remember, the 5th of November, gunpowder, treason and plot!
Sir William Asthorpe had been granted the licence to crenellate Hemyock Castle on 5th November 1380.
On 5th November 1605, the Gunpowder Plot was discovered and Guy Fawkes arrested. Later, he was sentenced to death, by Lord Chief Justice Sir John Popham – the owner of Hemyock Castle!
Last Train to Hemyock: The final passenger train to Hemyock station was on 5th November 1962.
Hemyock Castle, Hemyock, CULLOMPTON, Devon, EX15 3RJ, UK.
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