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13th Century

Thirteenth Century
1215 Magna Carta

June. King John in presence of Gilbert de Clare and his son Richard seals Magna Carta. Gilbert and Richard are Barons of the Charter.

August. King John resiles from the Charter, besieges Rochester Castle and in November sends to Tonbridge for "forty of the fattest pigs to bring fire beneath the tower". The corner of the keep is brought down by miners.

December. Tonbridge Castle is taken by John's force.


Gilbert de Clare becomes Earl of Gloucester and head of the baronage.


Henry III. Aged 9, protected by Richard de Clare, becomes King. Castle restored to Richard.


Gilbert De Clare becomes Earl of Gloucester and head of the baronage.

1230 Hubert De Burgh

Death of Gilbert de Clare. The lucrative wardship of his eight year old son Richard entrusted in turn to the Bishop of Winchester and to de Burgh who was also entrusted with the castle. The Archbishop of Canterbury claims wardship of the boy.

De Burgh secretly marries Richard to his young daughter. The Archbishop of Canterbury excommunicates the holders of the castle; Henry III rejects the Archbishop's claim, annuls the marriage; makes Richard his ward and takes him into his own family circle. On his way home from a successful appeal to the Pope, the Archbishop dies.


The young Earl Richard does service for Tonbridge Castle at the enthronisation of the new Archbishop.

Richard has control of his estate


Richard's ten year old son Gilbert marries Alice, the daughter of one of the King's half brothers.

The Barons, headed at first by Earl Richard and Simon de Montford resent many aspects of King Henry's rule but the King benefits from their mutual antagonisms.

1253 The Barons' War

Paris. December. King Henry, in debt and fearing civil war in England grants his rich and powerful protégée, Richard de Clare the licence to wall and embattle Tonbridge.

1259 The New Castle

Richard begins to build the castle substantially as it stands today. His portrait in stone remains in the castle.

1261 The Red Earl

Gilbert De Clare, The Red Earl, supports Simon De Montfort in rebellion against Henry III; two years later, King takes castle

1264 Henry III takes castle
1265 First Parliament

Simon de Montford calls first parliament to include commoners.

1268 Wales

Gilbert, whose vivid portrait in stone remains in Tonbridge Castle begins to build Caerphilly Castle on the same plan as Tonbridge.

1270 Prince Edward

The Lord Edward, heir to the throne, leaves England for the Holy Land. Gilbert remained in England as a Guardian of The Realm

1272 Edward I stays at Castle

Gilbert swears to the dying King Henry he will uphold the peace and guard the kingdom for Prince Edward. A duty he carries out well and faithfully.


Gilbert welcomes King Edward and Queen Eleanor to England and before their coronation entertained them at Tonbridge Castle. Their portraits in stone had places of honour in the castle.

1283 Death of Henry

Gilbert de Clare has no male heir by his wife Alice. The breakup of the Earldom is of national importance.

1285 Red Earl marries Royalty

Edward agrees to a marriage between his daughter Joan and Gilbert

Marriage of Gilbert and Alice dissolved

Gilbert surrenders all his lands to King Edward and marries Princess Joan. All the estates are restored jointly to Gilbert and Joan for life with the inheritance passing to their heirs or failing such heirs to Joan's children by any subsequent marriage.


Gilbert the son of the Red Earl inherits on his father's death.


The 13 year old Prince Edward left as his father's lieutenant delivers the great Seal of England to the King's Chancellor in Tonbridge Castle

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