Edward the Black Prince

In the eleventh year of the reign of Edward III (1337) he gave the castle to his son, Edward, as part of the newly created Duchy of Cornwall. In that year , an inquisition was held on St. Valentine’s day, concerning the castle and its restoration, and also regarding “divers wastes” and destructions made in the woods and other places appertaining to the castle; it was therein shown that William the turner and Robert the shoveller, and other persons, had been guilty of cutting down and taking away the King’s timber. (John Wolstenholme Cobb, translation from original documents by Rev. J.R. Crawford, Two Lectures on the History and Antiquities of Berkhamsted, 1883, pp.108-111).

The castle is still part of the Duchy’s estate today. The extensive deer park behind the castle was a favourite hunting ground for the prince.

Black Prince

Black Prince

When the Black Prince left Berkhamsted to fight at the battles of Crécy (1346) and Poitiers (1356) he took with him archers from Berkhamsted and district. Berkhamsted archers practised shooting in ‘butts’ near the centre of the town on what is now called Butts Meadow.

In 1862, the North Devon Journal wrote of “the marriage, in 1361, of Edward the Black Prince with the ‘Fair Countess’ – the buxom, warm-hearted, regal Joan of Kent. That was a rare love-match, albeit the bridegroom was over thirty years of age, and his brilliant English wife was a young widow of a former husband. But there was ‘heart’ in the whole matter. England had known of no such hero as Edward, from his youth up, since the days of King Arthur, and all the realm of beauty, it is said, would have been hard put to it to produce altogether such a peerless lady as Joan; – a little too sharp, perhaps, with her wit, which sometimes made good Queen Philippa look serious. But England loved the pair, and the pair loved one another. What joyous house they kept – not in Pall Mall ! but in their princely mansion between Crooked-lane-end and Fish-street-hill ! What gay and rather costly doings – for Joan, it must be said, was a lady who loved such doings – went on at their palace at Berkhampstead ! what ridings and joustings, and laughing, and love-making, about that smaller bower they built at Princes Risborough!”

A brass commemorating John Raven (1385), squire to the Black Prince, can be seen in St. Peter’s Church.

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