Emma's Keeper Corner
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Today, I will be starting with a reference book - well, it’s actually a Local History Pamphlet by The
Bristol Branch of The Historical Association but nevertheless, it’s on my shelf for a reason. It is Bristol Castle: A Political History by Dr Peter Fleming, a Principal Lecturer in History at the University of the West of England (2004).
I picked up this book in Bristol Library due to my fascination with Bristol Castle and maybe a teeny-eeny crush on Robert, Earl of Gloucester - illegitimate but trusted son of Henry I and who played
such a pivotal role in the Civil War between Matilda and Stephen in the 12th century.
Illustration: The Keep, after Millerd's plan of Bristol, 1673 (J. F. Nicholls and J. Taylor, Bristol Past & Present, Arrowsmith, Bristol, 1881), vol 1, p.75.
The attraction of this book is its simplicity in fact; key points in the castle’s history explained
professionally and fully enough if one needed to use the facts in writing. There is no fussiness, just pawn and political history and some sketches based on 19th & 20th century views of what buildings
remained. This can give the reader some comparison, especially if one lives near the site or can visit (or any sites written about in this fashion).
An early 20th century view of a surviving castle tower (S. J. Loxton, in G. F. Stone, 'Bristol As It Was And As It Is', Walter Reid, Bristol, 1909), p.99
For me, it was being new to the area and finding that some remains of the castle survive, quite near
the site of Bristol Cathedral and Library. Finding references to the castle were quite easy, both online and in library but this particular book gave me details of the political usage, be it baron or royalty over the Castle's varied history.
What is now Castle Park with some old remains in a corner that not many people appear to
notice, was once a true powerhouse (or perhaps not many get excited by touching stonework that
played such a vital role in British history!). Even the atmosphere around Castle Park seems to give nothing away of its' past ...
And thus, it is on my Keeper Shelf as a reminder of what a magnificent building it once was but also what that represented - hard facts that weren’t pretty.