About the site
Odiham Castle lies on the banks of the Basingstoke Canal, but was built long before the canal existed.
The Castle, with its surrounding defensive ditches, was built between 1207 and 1214. The site was probably chosen by King John as a convenient point between his strongholds at Winchester and Windsor. Odiham being a good stopping place on the two day ride between them.
Soon after it was finished in 1216, the castle suffered a two week siege by French knights. These knights were sent to support the Barons in their rebellion against King John after the failure of Magna Carta to bring peace.
The castle was granted by King Henry III to John’s daughter, Eleanor, in 1236. Two years later Eleanor married Simon de Montfort, one of the most powerful noblemen in the country. This union would have made Odiham one of the most powerful households in the land. Simon took a leading part in the rebellion against Henry III, eventually stripping the king of power and taking on the rule of England himself. He did not enjoy this power for long and was killed by supporters of the King after just over a year in power.
By the 15th century the castle lost its status as a royal residence and became a hunting lodge. During the following 200 years little was spent on the upkeep of the building. In its declining state it may have been seen as a source of building material and parts may have been used to build local houses. By 1603 it was classed as being a ruin.
Basingstoke Canal Authority, Canal Centre, Mytchett Place Road, Mytchett, Surrey GU16 6DD
Phone 01252 370073