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Posted on Oct 24, 2004 in Stuff We Like

Battlefield Tour – Basing House

Armchair General

HISTORY

The first buildings and fortifications to be built on the site were constructed around 1150 AD by the de Port family. This family came over from Normandy with William the Conqueror in 1066 AD and orginated from Port en Bessin near Bayeux.

Consisting of Ringwork defences and a Bailey castle, there is evidence that the defences were still built of timber as late at 1260 AD but the internal buildings may already have been replaced with flint and stone structures.

Here you see an artist’s impression of how the Fort may have looked at that time.

Artist's Impression

Centuries later, during the Tudor era, Basing was the province of William Paulet who would become Marquess of Winchester and who became so powerful and rich that he built two great Tudor mansions on the site of the old fortifications. The first of these, the so-called “Old House” was only known as such because it was built directly on the site of the original Norman Fort. The second of these great houses, despite the fact that it was built at the same time, was known as the “New House” and was built next to the other structure.

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During the life of these magnificent structures, all of the Tudor sovereigns visited Basing House which was said to be “The greatest subject’s house in the Kingdom”.

Here is an overhead plan that shows the original fortifications and the Tudor buildings that replaced them – the “Old House”.

Plan

Here’s an enlargened imprint from a contemporary engraving showing how the House looked during the siege. As you can see, it was an impressive structure, although there is a suggestion that the “battlements” were in fact wicker gabions for defence and that the original artist might have been guilty of some slight embellishment.

Artist's Impression

The site is subject to occasional excavations for archaeological purposes and there have been finds dating from the Iron Age up until the Napoleonic era. Here we can see a selection of items that have been unearthed from the ground.

Archaeological Finds

One of the items uncovered is this fine example of a roundel containing the sculptured head of a Roman Emperor made from limestone that appears to originate from Caen in Normandy.

Sculpture

This display shows some of the metal artefacts that have been uncovered.

Artefacts

And here, some of the various sizes of cannonball and shot used during the siege.

Shot

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