Many of the most gripping episodes in British history took place within the walls -or ruins-of the country’s several thousand castles, yet surprisingly little is known about some of them. A new charity is hoping to bring those histories to prominence and unlock yet further stories, even if the castle no longer exists, for the benefit of both the local community and the wider public.

The Castle Studies Trust is appealing for donations to enable it to award grants of up to £5,000 for study projects, which will, at first, focus on new work, such as architectural and geophysical surveys or scientific tests such as radio-carbon dating. Possible sites include the forgotten Baynard’s Castle, near Blackfriars, London, originally a Norman fortification destroyed by King John and then a medieval palace burnt in the Great Fire of London, and Pleshey Castle in Essex, of which only the vast earthworks remain.

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Country Life’s Architectural Editor, John Goodall, who wrote the prize-winning book The English Castle (2011), points out that, despite public interest, most castles are very little studied. His joint patron of the charity, Edward Impey, who works for English Heritage and is an authority on the Tower of London, adds: ‘Castles are with us everywhere: in reality, in the imagination and in literature. They are mighty reminders and documents of the past. What they can tell us is staggering, but so much remains to be learned.’ To donate to the appeal, visit www.castlestudiestrust.org.

Image: Pendragon Castle, from www.visitcumbria.com.