THE DREADFUL DEATH OF KING EDWARD 11
Built in the 12th century and standing at the centre of the picturesque Vale of Berkeley, history has certainly left its mark upon this magnificent monument to a bygone age, which has, amazingly, remained in the possession of the same family for nigh on eight hundred action packed years.
Visitors to the Castle can still see a deep dungeon in the old keep, into which were once thrown the rotting carcasses of animals, accompanied every so often, it is said, by those of the lower classes who had offended against the powerful Lord Berkeley.
The stench from this disease-ridden, malodorous pit must have been unbearable, but it also provided an exquisitely horrific way to punish those of noble birth who had incurred the wrath of the Berkeley family.
A windowless and airless cell can be seen close-by, and here unfortunate nobles would be locked away, with only the stinking air from the nearby dungeon to breathe.
It provided a convenient method by which to dispose of those who could not be seen to have been murdered, since few people could survive long in the dreadful and fetid atmosphere.
It was in this living hell, that Edward 11 found himself confined in 1327, following his deposal by his wife Queen Isabella, and her lover Roger Mortimer.
It was their intention that a few days in the dreadful chamber would bring about the Kings death. But his constitution surprised them.
He became ill, but recovered, and managed to survive five months in the loathsome cell.
Clearly, a more direct approach was required and so the Queen instructed Edward’s gaolers, Sir John Maltravers and Sir Thomas Gurney to dispose of her husband as they saw fit.
And so, on September 21st 1327 Edward 11 suffered the most horrible death of any British monarch.
The two men seized Edward and pinned him face down to the bed, whereupon "a kind of horn or funnel was thrust into his fundament through which a red-hot spit was run up his bowels."
Such was the King’s agony that his screams are said to have been heard far beyond the castle walls and have continued to echo down the centuries on the anniversary ever since.