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12 Interesting Dudley Castle Facts

This structure is one of the most famous castles in the West Midlands in England.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most interesting facts about Dudley Castle.

1. It’s located in the capital of the Black Country

Dudley castle is located on a hill at the end of the city center of Dudley, a town often referred to as the “capital of the black country.” This name dates back to the 1840s when the area grew fast because of the Industrial revolution.

One of the most remarkable Dudley Castle facts is that it has only been situated within the borders of the town of Dudley since 1926 when the borders were changed. It used to be located within the borders of a neighboring town called Sedgley, which is located in Staffordshire and not in Worcestershire.

Dudley castle from castle street
Castle Street in Dudley / Brian Clift /

2. It was constructed on a limestone outcrop called “Castle Hill”

As you surely noticed from the image above, the castle is located in a seriously elevated area, overlooking the town of Dudley. This hill is referred to as “Castle Hill” and is actually a limestone outcrop.

It’s part of the outcrop of the Wenlock Group limestone which was quarried during the Industrial Revolution and which is now a scheduled monument together with another geological site called “Wren’s Nest Hill.”

Dudley castle in 18th century
Dudley Castle in 18th-century painting / Source

3. Some sources claim a castle was present since the 8th century

Whether or not this is true can’t be verified, but some sources claim that a castle was present on the site since the year 700. This castle was supposedly built by a Mercian duke named Dodo or Doddo.

Most historians don’t follow this claim though as there isn’t a single trace of evidence to confirm it.

4. Dudley Castle was built in the 11th century

The first mention of Dudley Castle was made in the Domesday Book records of 1086 as it was stated that “the said William held Dudley, and there is his castle.”

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The William being referred to was William Fitz-Ansculf which was the son of a French Baron named Ansculf de Picquigny, a fervent follower of William the Conqueror.

This means that the original castle was most probably built shortly after the Norman Conquest of England in 1066.

5. Some of the foundations of the original castle are still in place

One of the most fascinating Dudley Castle facts is that some of the foundations dating back to the period that the original castle was constructed can still be found.

The earthworks are located within the mound, on which the keep of the current castle now sits.

keep of dudley castle
The mound / Gordon Griffiths /

6. The first stone castle on the site was destroyed by King Henry II

The castle was owned by the Paganel family in the 12th century. They are the ones who constructed the first stone castle, strong enough to withstand a siege in 1238. The original castle had been made out of wood.

One of the members of this family named Gervase Paganel had joined a rebellion against King Henry II, which failed, resulting in the king ordering the stone castle to be demolished in the year 1173.

7. The keep of the castle dates back to the 14th century

The family came into the hands of the Somery family in the 13th century and they were the ones to rebuild it. The work started in the year 1262 but wasn’t completed until the 14th century.

The main gate of the castle, as well as the castle’s keep which sits on the mound, date back from this construction phase.

entrance dudley castle gate
Dudley Castle gate / Source

8. The Sharington Range dates back to the 16th century

One of the most prominent extant features of the castle is a row of residential buildings referred to as the “Sharington Range,” named after its architect, William Sharington.

The construction of these buildings started in the year 1540 and was commissioned by John Dudley, the later Duke of Northumberland.

Historic England describes these buildings as “one of the earliest known examples of the influence of the Italian Renaissance on the secular architecture of the West Midlands.”

sharington range dudley castle
Sharington Range / Source / Tanya Dedyukhina

9. The castle was besieged and partially demolished during the Civil War

The castle was besieged in the year 1644 during the First English Civil War. The Royalist garrison holding the castle only surrendered on May 13, 1646, after which the Parliamentarians partially demolished the castle intending to render it useless in the future.

The damage to the keep dates back to this period and only some residential buildings inside the castle grounds were untouched. These were still being used by the Dukes of Dudley after this event.

Dudley castle buildings
Castle buildings / shakestd /

10. Many buildings inside the castle grounds were destroyed by fire in the 18th century

The final addition to the castle was a stable block that was built around the year 1700. The castle became completely useless after a great fire in the year 1750 which destroyed most of the remaining buildings.

It wasn’t until the 19th century that the castle found a new purpose, which was to serve as a tourist attraction or so-called “romantic ruin,” something that happened all across the country in the early 1800s.

Dudley castle ruin
Dudley Castle ruin / David M Lear /

11. The castle houses 2 Russian cannons from the 19th century

One of the coolest Dudley Castle facts is that it houses 2 Russian cannons that were brought back as spoils of war. These were acquired during the Crimean Wars (1853-1856) and were installed at Dudley Castle.

RUssian cannon at Dudley castle
Russian Cannon / Tony Hisgett /

12. A popular tourist attraction is part of the castle’s grounds

In the 19th and 20th centuries, the castle grounds have been used for various purposes ranging from town celebrations to beauty pageants.

One of the most amazing Dudley Castle facts is that the castle grounds were incorporated into the Dudley Zoo when it was established back in 1937, making it the most popular tourist attraction in the region!

Dudley Castle entrance
Castle entrance / LisaPB73 /