posted 02-21-99 06:41 AM
The following is what Plantagenet Somerset Fry has to say about Dudley in his book Castles of the British Isles (A book with the widest Gazette of British Castles I have ever found)
A motte castle with an oval bailey mentioned in 1086 (Domesday Book) was destroyed in 1175. It stood in a magnificent position on a levelled hill just outside and over 100ft above the town. it was owned by Gervase de Paynel, who supported the revolt of Prince Henry against his father, Henry II, in 1173-4, and de Paynel paid for backing the wrong side by losing his castle. The castle site lay desolate until the middle of the thirteenth century when a descendent, Roger de Somery, began to rebuild. He was granted a licence in 1265 but died in 1272 before the new works were anything like complete. These were carried on by his son, John, who made himself loathed in the nieghbourhood for the dishonest and bullying means by which he raised money to pay for them.
John de Somery's work included an interesting great tower opon the old motte, rectangular in plan but with cylindrical turrets on the four corners. Dudley's great tower rose two storeys, and part of the tower remains. The work also included a tall enclosing curtain wall, about 8ft thick, and a substantial square plan gatehouse which incorporates fragments of the castle's original gateway of the 12th century.
Later in the 14th century, a chapel, a hall and other domestic buildings were erected round the inside of the curtain, and the gatehouse was reinforced with a twin-cylindrical flanking towered barbican front which is now in ruins.
Dudley was taken over by the Dudley family in the reign if Henry VIII, and much of the dwelling part remoddled by John Dudley, Viscount Lisle and later Duke of Northumberland, who was the protector of the Realm during the last two years of the reign of Edward VI. The castle was garrisioned by the Royalist during the Civil War. It was captured by Parliamentary forces in 1645, and the great tower was partly demolished by order in 1646.
The Castle is now a zoo, with some great 30's Modernism animal enclosure (Great architecture, not so great for the animals). The castle remains are open, it is possible to climb to the top of the ruined great tower and an multimedia tour of the castle is housed within the keep.
The Castle does publish a small guide which contains more information, which you should be able to obtain by post if you contact them.