There has been some dispute as to when the castle at Bishop Stortford was begun, there have been some suggestions that the motte was a Celtic barrow that was reused, that it was originally a Saxon burgh (a fortified enclosure), or that it was began by the Normans. Whatever the truth is, it is certain the castle at Bishop Stortford (also known as Waytemore Castle) would have been constructed soon after the Norman conquest in wood and then over time replaced by a stone structure.
It is the believed that the keep at Bishop Stortford Castle wasn’t built until after 1135 and the layout of the castle would have been the traditional Norman motte and bailey configuration. Bishop Stortford Castle functioned as a fortress, prison and private residence for the lord of the manor (the Bishop of London).
Notable events in the history of the castle are during the Anarchy (1135-1154) the castle was promised to Geoffrey de Mandeville, Earl of Essex by the Empress Matilda if he would assist her against King Stephen. De Mandeville agreed to this and readily joined forces with Matilda. Another notable even came in the late 12 Century when King John was in dispute with the Pope over who should be the Archbishop of Canterbury. The dispute resulted in the castle being dismantled but later being rebuilt.
The ruins of the castle that can be seen on the motte to this day are of the castle that was rebuilt by King John after his dispute with the Pope ended in 1214. The castle at Bishop Stortford continued in use until the English Civil War when on Partliament’s victory it was pulled down as it had deterioted quite significantly.
Bishop Stortford Castle is located in Castle Park in Bishop Stortford and is very close to the town centre with its associated ample parking.