Baynard’s Castle refers to two buildings that existed on the same site between St Pauls Cathedral, where the old Roman walls and River Fleet met the River Thames, just east of what is now Blackfriars station.
The first was a Norman castle, constructed by Ralph Baynard (Sheriff of Essex) that incorporated an earlier Saxon fortification.
The castle was inherited by Ralph’s son Geoffrey and his grandson William Baynard, but the latter forfeited his lands early in the reign of Henry I (1100–1135) for supporting Henry’s brother Robert Curthose in his claim to the throne. John Stow gives 1111 as the date of forfeiture. Later in Henry’s reign, the lordship of Dunmow and honour or soke of Baynard’s Castle were granted to the king’s steward, Robert Fitz Richard.
The Norman castle stood for over a century before being demolished by King John in 1213. It appears to have been rebuilt after the barons’ revolt, but the site was sold in 1276 to form the precinct of the great priory of Blackfriars.
About a century later, a new fortified mansion was constructed on land that had been reclaimed from the Thames, southeast of the first castle.
The castle was rebuilt after 1428, and became the London headquarters of the House of York during the Wars of the Roses. Both King Edward IV and Queen Mary I of England were recorded being crowned at the castle.
By the end of the 15th century, the castle was reconstructed as a royal palace by Henry VII, which Henry VIII gave Catherine of Aragon as a gift on the eve of their wedding.
Baynard’s Castle was left in ruins after the Great Fire of London in 1666, although fragments survived into the 19th century.
The site is now occupied by a BT office called Baynard House, but the castle is commemorated in Castle Baynard Street and the Castle Baynard ward of the City of London.