Valingford

For Wallingford. "At the time of the Norman invasion," says Lysons, "Wigod, a powerful Saxon, had a castle at Wallingford, to which, after the battle of Hastings, he invited the victorious Monarch; the invitation was accepted, and at this place the Conqueror received the submission of Archbishop Stigand, and the principal barons, before he marched with his army to London. During his abode at this place, he celebrated the marriage of Robert D'Oyley, one of his favourite generals, with the only daughter of Wigod. About the year 1067, the King fearing that his new subjects might establish a garrison at Wallingford as they had already done at Oxford, commanded Robert D'Oyley to build a strong castle there; this castle was frequently used as a State prison, as will be seen in the course of its subsequent history; Aldred, Abbot of Abingdon, is the first person on record who was imprisoned there.

"Maud, only daughter and heir of Robert D'Oyley, brought the castle, town, and honour of Wallingford in marriage to Milo Crispin, and after his death to her second husband, Brien FitzCount, who, being devoted to the interest of the Empress Maud, immediately on her arrival in the kingdom fortified Wallingford Castle, and declared on her behalf. This castle afforded her a secure retreat, when she escaped from Oxford, eluding observation, as our historian relates, by passing along the river, then frozen over, in white garments; the ground being at the time covered with snow. Stephen several times besieged this castle, but in vain; having built a fort at Cromarsh, on the opposite side of the river, for the purpose of carrying on the siege to better effect, Brien FitzCount despatched a messenger to the Duke of Normandy, who coming over with an army to assist his friends at Wallingford, laid siege to the King's fort or castle of Cromarsh; Stephen hastened to its relief, and the two armies were encamped only three furlongs asunder, when proposals were made for an accommodation; a peace was in consequence concluded before the walls of Wallingford in 1153, by the terms of which the fortress of Cromarsh was to be destroyed at the King's cost, and Brien FitzCount pardoned and taken into favour.

"Before the close of Stephen's reign, Brien took upon him the Cross, abandoned his possessions, and went to the Holy Land; his wife had before taken the veil at a convent in Normandy. In consequence of this event, King Henry II., on his accession to the throne, seized into his own hands the honour and castle of Wallingford;" and it ever after continued Crown property.

The name of Wigod is synonymous with Bygod, and would suggest that the Lord of Wallingford was one of the Norman settlers found in this country previous to the Conquest.

-- Cleveland

Return to Main Index