Hadleigh Castle in Essex was a favourite with both Edward II and Edward III. It eventually came down through some names of great interest to Ricardians . . .Richard, Duke of York (Richard’s father), Edmund Tudor (Henry VII’s father) and Edward IV (Richard’s elder brother), who gave it to his queen, Elizabeth Woodville. The castle and its newer counterpart in Kent, Queenborough Castle, were formidable guardians of the approaches to London. Now only picturesque ruins, perched on a rocky height above the estuary, Hadleigh’s more recent claim to fame is that it is adjacent to the venue of the mountain-biking competition for the 2012 Olympic Games.
I have been researching the castle and surrounding area as it was during the reigns of Richard II and Henry IV, and while browsing around online, going here, there and everywhere in search of those all-important snippets that an author of historical fiction is always hoping to run to ground, I came upon an anomaly. Well, I do not know what it is, so ‘anomaly is as good a name as any, I think.
It came to light on Google Maps, specifically at
which shows Hadleigh to be on a ‘tongue’ of green land that is actually a saddleback of higher ground above the marshes and saltings of Benfleet Creek and the Thames Estuary. I was startled to find something on the southern slope below the castle. It looks like . . . a huge pavement? Certainly remains of some sort. It’s clear in the above picture. You can home in much more satisfactorily, of course, using the link. And if you go over to Google Earth, it’s visible in even more detail.
The thing is…what is it? A ghostly image that has somehow found its way into the system? I don’t mean that literally, of course, more that it is probably a photographic glitch. In other words, it looks as if it shouldn’t be there. But there it is. At least, it is in the latest aerial photographs by Google. You can look at previous photographs, using a facility on Google Earth, but none of them shows this strange formation.
Does anyone have the answer?