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- Dudley Castle
Dudley Castle, like many castles in England, was founded shortly after the Norman Conquest of 1066. A formidable French knight by the name of Ansculf, who came from Picquigney, near Amiens, gained the estate of Dudley in 1070, following the unsuccessful rebellion of the Saxon lord, Earl Edwin of Mercia.
Ansculf constructed a fortification of earth and timber, known as a Motte and Bailey Castle. To this day the shape of the original structure can still be seen. The Castle was mentioned in the Domesday book survey of 1086, and at that time was being held by Ansculf's son, William.
At the beginning of the 12th century, the Castle passed to the de Paganel family. How they obtained the barony is uncertain. In the 1130's Dudley Castle was refortified by Ralf Paganel. When a civil war known as "The Anarchy" broke out in 1135, Ralf sided with Empress Matilda, the daughter of Henry I. As a result of this, Dudley Castle was laid under siege by her cousin, King Stephen, in 1138. Stephen failed to take the well-fortified Castle, so he took his temper out on the surrounding area and people, before marching off to attack and destroy Shrewsbury Castle. This is confirmed by documentary evidence which also hints strongly that the castle was stone-built by then.
Very little remains of the de Paganel Castle, for in 1175 Ralf's son, Gervaise Paganel, supported an unsuccessful rebellion against King Henry II. As a punishment the fortifications of Dudley Castle were partially demolished. For the next 100 years or so, Dudley Castle was little more than an undefended manor house.