‘A statue to William in my Berkhamsted Castle?’ Prince Charles says: No go

Berkhamsted Castle - by Jason Hawkes
Berkhamsted Castle - by Jason Hawkes

Plans for a 40-foot-high memorial to William the Conqueror in Berkhamsted Castle have been shot down by the site’s managers.

An anonymous businessman had offered £25,000 towards the project, which would commemorate the 950th anniversary of the Norman ruler’s acceptance of the English crown.

This website reported last week that the idea won the backing of Berkhamsted Town Council – which said it would raise the profile of the area.

The castle is not widely recognised as the place where William the Conqueror accepted the English crown in 1066 after defeating King Harold at the Battle of Hasting.

South West Herts MP David Gauke is encouraging English Heritage, which manages the site, to see how the event’s 950th anniversary can be marked in two years time.

He said: “I think the 950th anniversary should be commemorated and if private individuals are willing to come forward to fund a statue or something similar, it should be welcomed.

“Berkhamsted’s significance in the events of 1066 is under-appreciated and the forthcoming anniversary provides an opportunity to raise awareness.”

But English Heritage spokesman Debbie Hickman says the plan will not be allowed to proceed – and the Duchy of Cornwall, which owns the castle, is backing its decision.

She said: “As guardians of this important motte and bailey castle, our role is to maintain its significance as a historic monument for future generations to enjoy, rather than installing new elements.

“For that reason, we are not able to support this current proposal, but we have already been in touch with the businessman concerned and appreciate his generous offer.”

John Waller give tours of the castle and helps man its small visitors centre with other members of the Berkhamsted Local History and Museum Society.

The 70-year-old, who lives in the town’s Cobb Road, said it’s high time English Heritage and Duke of Cornwall Prince Charles did more to promote the castle.

He said: “Prince Charles has never visited, unlike his illustrious ancestors, such as Edward the Black Prince and Edward the Eighth.

“I have invited him, but obviously it is of no interest to him – so why not transfer it to someone who will love, cherish and enhance this valuable place?”

English Heritage said it had ‘carefully considered’ the memorial proposal before deciding to reject the idea. But the monument could still be installed elsewhere in Berkhamsted under the anonymous businessman’s plans.