About Walchelin de Ferriers of Oakham Castle
Oakham Castle is located in Oakham, Rutland. It was constructed between 1180 and 1190, in the reign of Henry II for Walchelin de Ferriers, Lord of the Manor of Oakham. The Castle is well known for its collection of massive horseshoes and is also recognized as one the best examples of domestic Norman architecture in England.
Before the Norman era, the site was inhabited by Saxon kings.
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Walchelin de Ferrieres (or Walkelin de Ferrers) (died 1201) was a Norman baron and principal captain of Richard I of England.
The Ferriers family hailed from the southern marches of Normandy and had previously protected the duchy from the hostility of the counts of Maine and Anjou. With the union of the domains of Anjou and Normandy in 1144, and the investment of Geoffrey V Plantagenet as duke of Normandy, most of this land lost its strategic importance.
Walchelin was the son of Henry de Ferrieres, a nephew of Robert de Ferrers, 1st Earl of Derby. Like his father, Walchelin held the castles of Ferrières-Saint-Hilaire and Chambray for the service of 5 knights. He had 42 and 3/4 in his service, enfeoffed in his lands. In England, Walchelin held the manors of Oakham in Rutland and Lechlade in Gloucestershire. He is known to have held this land since at least 1172.
During the Third Crusade, he and his son and heir, Henry, served in the force of Richard I of England. A John de Ferrieres, believed to be a nephew, was also present. Walchelin had stayed with the King in Sicily. It is apparent that Walchelin was close in the counsel of the king. He and his knights arrived at Saint-Jean d'Acre sometime in April or June of 1191. Some months previously, a distant relative, William de Ferrers, 3rd Earl of Derby had been killed at the siege.
After the conclusion of the siege, Richard of England and Hugh III of Burgundy marched their forces south to the city of Jaffa. Along the road, several skirmishes broke out between the marching crusaders and the Saracen army marching parallel under Saladin. On 7 September 1191, the great battle of Arsuf was fought. Richard had made Walchelin a commander of one of the elite bodies of knights according to the chronicle attributed to Geoffrey de Vinsauf.
Later, in 1194, Richard was imprisoned in Germany. Walchelin brought the treasure of Normandy to Speyer and gave himself as a hostage (along with many others) to the Western Emperor Henry VI. He was freed from captivity around 1197. His sons Henry and Hugh managed his estates during the years he spent in prison. Sometime prior to his death, the younger son, Hugh was granted lordship of the manor of Lechlade.
Walchelin died in 1201 and was succeeded by his son, Henry. Henry sided with John of England over King Philip II of France until December 1203 when John left Normandy, never to return. At this point, Henry did Philip homage for his Norman lands. Hugh had left England and the care of Lechlade and Oakham went to their sister, Isabella, who was married to Roger de Mortimer of Wigmore. After her death, the land was escheated to the crown as Terra Normanorum.