Most Haunted Oxford Castle (Unlocked)
Oxford Castle, located in Oxford city centre, was built by a Norman baron, Robert D’Oyly, in 1071 (shortly after the Norman Conquest of England in 1066).
It was originally an earth mound with a stone keep on top, known as St George’s Tower, and later a fifty foot wall with towers was built around the structure.
In 1120 Robert’s younger brother, Nigel D’Oyly, was Lord of Oxford Castle. It is 12 miles northwest of Wallingford Castle, also usually credited to Robert D’Oyly.
It was the home of Empress Matilda in 1141 when Robert D’Oyly the younger declared his support for her over King Stephen. The castle was besieged by the king for three months. She escaped from the castle by being lowered over the walls, supposedly dressed in white to act as a camouflage in the snow. She passed through the enemy lines and across the Castle Mill Stream.
The site became the seat of the county government and courts although the castle had fallen into disrepair by the 14th century.
The county gaol gradually grew to take over most of the site. In 1888 it became HM Prison Oxford (Oxford Prison). The prison was closed in 1996 and the site reverted to Oxfordshire County Council. It has since been redeveloped as a shopping and heritage complex, with open courtyards for markets and theatrical performances. The scheme also includes a hotel in the Malmaison chain, Malmaison Oxford, occupying a large part of the former prison block, with converted jail cells as guest rooms. This is the first time in the UK that a prison has been turned into a hotel. The redeveloped site also includes apartments, bars, restaurants, events venues, and a visitor centre operating as “Oxford Castle–Unlocked”.
First Broadcast : 18th March 2008