Caen Castle

Caen Castle


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The Château de Caen is a Norman built around 1060 by William the Conqueror. His son Henry I then built the Saint George’s church, a keep and a large hall for the ducal Court.

Caen Castle, along with all of Normandy, was recaptured by the French Crown in 1204. Philip II reinforced the fortifications. The castle saw several engagements during the Hundred Years’ War. The keep was pulled down in 1793 during the French Revolution, by order of the National Convention.

The castle, which was used as a barracks during World War II, was bombed in 1944 and seriously damaged.

Today, the castle serves as a museum that houses the Museum of Fine Arts of Caen, the Museum of Normandy and the Exchequer of Normandy.


Caen Castle - History

In around 1025, during the reign of the duke of Normandy Richard II, the town of Caen was growing "on the River Oulne on either side, with its churches, its vineyards, its meadows, its mills, with the market, the stall holders&rsquo tax, the port and all its outbuildings". At the time it was no more than a secondary town with a trade calling where business was livened up by the presence of the port. This asset, combined with the existence of a rocky spur suitable for building a castle did not go unnoticed by Duke William. In around 1060, a little over a decade after his decisive victory over his rebel barons at the Battle of Val-es-Dunes, the prince set up in residence in this town with a future.

Built on the rocky spur overlooking the ducal borough, William&rsquos castle was impressive in size, over five hectares barred on the north side by a deep defensive moat. The prince&rsquos residence, which ancient texts and plans now describe as the Vieux-Palais, the old palace, was sheltered behind high walls with the parish of St George and its many houses close by.

At the same time as the castle was built, William and his wife Matilda established two abbeys in Caen, the Abbaye aux Hommes (Men&rsquos Abbey), and the Abbaye aux Dames (Ladies&rsquo Abbey). Also during that period an enclosure was built round the ducal borough. During this second half of the 11th century, the town became a huge building site, encouraging an influx of new populations, who would help to make Caen a major city, the duchy of Normandy&rsquos second largest after Rouen.

The Norman dukes&rsquo palace

At the time of the building of the castle in around 1060, William of Normandy set up his palace inside the enclosure. Most of what we know about this palace complex comes to us from the archaeological digs conducted in the post-Second World War years by the archaeologist Michel de Boüard. Three palace functions have been identified from the remains uncovered. According to the archaeologist, one rectangular building 16 metres by 8 (aula) with a clay floor suggests a kitchen and outbuildings level &ldquoas is customarily found on the ground floor of a prince&rsquos aula in the 11th and 12th centuries.&rdquo The duke&rsquos apartments (camera) would then have been on the upper floor as suggested by the remains of a more recently built staircase in one corner of the building. The remains of the palatine chapel (capella) were also unearthed a few yards away from the first building, although this chapel still existed in part in the modern constructions destroyed during the bombing raids of 1944. We cannot say definitely how or even whether William&rsquos palace was isolated or not from the rest of the enclosure, as no enclosing element was discovered during the excavations. Onto this palatial unit attributed to William of Normandy a new hall built by his son, Henry I Beauclerc, was added in around 1120, now known as the Salle de l&rsquoÉchiquier (Exchequer Hall). This splendid hall is more impressive in size (32 metres by 13), and is the only surviving civilian Romanesque architecture in Normandy.

Radically transformed over the centuries and wars, it is hard to state that the Exchequer Hall never had more than one storey. For lack of evidence apart from the odd clue, to substantiate the existence of an intermediate floor in the 12th century, the major restoration work of the

sixties opted to restore the hall to a state better known in the writings, that of the 14th century.

The current excavation of the 12th century building with comparable architecture to that of the Exchequer Hall will bring its batch of information that will complement and perhaps somewhat call into question the operation and interpretation of the palace unit.

The castle parish and farmyard

While Caen Castle&rsquos function as a high court is fairly clearly established with the determination of the 11th&ndash12th century palace unit, it is not so easy to define the farmyard within the castle enclosure. While obviously there were a number of services that the palace operation could not go without, these are harder to place within the castle. Here again, archaeology comes to the rescue when the writings have little to say prior to the 14th century. A set of kitchens associated with the keep was excavated in the sixties, with however no sign of the mill although mentioned in the writings as being in the same area. A number of bases that belonged to small houses contemporary with the first, 11th century, castle were also brought to light on the site, chiefly in the vicinity of the gate-tower, the main entrance to the site in the time of the dukes.

The most persuasive evidence of the existence of the farmyard at Caen Castle is the parish church of St George. While it is hard to establish that the parish predated the castle, since the excavations have uncovered no remains from before the year 1100, the building accompanied the near-millennium of the fort&rsquos existence. Every architectural style is represented in the church, from Norman Romanesque architecture up to the 20th century historiated stained-glass windows. Through its central position in the enclosure and the natural attraction such a building is, St George&rsquos church is to be given a new assignment. In 2013 it is to become the Caen Castle reception and interpretation centre, the starting point of the visit and an open door to the other French and English partner sites of the European "Norman Connections&rdquo project, the work being carried as part of that project.

A fortress in the city

Nothing is known about the first castle fortification erected in around 1060. The oldest bits of the ramparts located on the north of the site date from the early 12th century. Made of stone, of which there was an abundance on the site, this rampart is built on an embankment of rubble taken from the digging of the north and east ditches. Was this embankment used to set up an early wooden stockade? Nobody knows, as archaeology has unearthed nothing to help with interpreting this question.

In the 11th century, there were two gates into the castle. The first in the north was also the main entrance to the site. It was defended by an imposing gate-tower. To the south, the only communication with the town was through a postern.

The rampart, certainly fitted with wooden allures when first built, was dotted with numerous towers as and when attempts were made to enhance its defensive qualities.

The fort&rsquos major asset remained the keep, built in around 1120 by Henry I. We know little about it, but it was certainly comparable in many ways to its contemporary, Falaise Castle. Here again, archaeology has been a great help since it has led to the rediscovery of the ground plan of the keep (24 m x 27 m) and that of the curtain with its four corner towers which was laid out in the 13th century to isolate the keep from the rest of the enclosure. During the French Revolution, the National Convention decreed the destruction of the keep (1793). This work was only completed in the 19th century by the military at the Lefèbvre barracks, who buried the last remains in order to lay a parade ground.

During its long history, and no doubt owing to its defensive qualities, Caen Castle was never taken by storm.


Caen Castle - History

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Caen, city, capital of Calvados département, Normandy région, northwestern France, on the Orne River, 9 miles (14 km) from the English Channel, southwest of Le Havre.

It first became important under the Norman dukes in the 10th and 11th centuries and was the capital of lower Normandy in the time of William the Conqueror. Captured by the English twice—in 1346 and in 1417—it was held by them until 1450. The revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1685) broke the prosperity of the city, which had become Protestant. During the French Revolution, it was a centre for the Girondist movement. Following the Allied Normandy Invasion in 1944, the Germans used Caen as the hinge of their resistance to the British–Canadian advance, and the city was two-thirds destroyed. It was reconstructed, with planned industrial zones between the Orne and the port canal. A green plain, the Prairie Saint-Gilles, faces the city’s southwest side, and public gardens were planted in the city centre. The university, founded in 1432 by Henry VI of England, was resited and reopened in 1957. The Caen Memorial (opened 1988) is a museum dedicated to both war and peace.

The churches of Saint-Étienne (the Abbaye-aux-Hommes) La Trinité (the Abbaye-aux-Dames) escaped war damage both date from the 1060s and are fine specimens of Norman Romanesque. William the Conqueror’s tomb is in front of Saint-Étienne’s high altar, and the tomb of his wife, Matilda, stands in La Trinité’s choir. William’s remains were thrown out during the Revolution. Saint-Étienne has an austere facade bare of ornament. Its two towers, rising to 295 feet (90 m), are topped by 13th-century spires. The abbey buildings, redone in the 17th century, now house municipal offices. La Trinité’s Norman solidity is overburdened by later (especially 19th-century) restoration work. The nave serves as the parish church, the transept and choir as part of the city hospital (hôtel-dieu). Midway between these two churches is the highly decorated church of Saint-Pierre, its Gothic and French Renaissance beauties restored after wartime damage. On the Place Saint-Pierre stands the Hôtel Le Valois d’Escoville, a restored Renaissance mansion (1538). The house where the poet François de Malherbe was born (1555) is on the rue Saint-Pierre.

Caen’s importance as a port dates from the 19th-century construction of the ship canal (about 9 miles [14 km] long), which parallels the river and opens to the English Channel at Ouistreham. It serves largely to import coke and export steel. The city’s steel industry is fed by the iron ore mines of the Orne valley. The blast furnaces of Mondeville have been reconstructed, and the working population is housed in the new city of Hérouville. The industrial aspect of the city grew greatly with the location there of automobile, electrical appliance, and electronics plants. Situated in the centre of a fertile grain-growing region, within sight of the verdant bocage of Normandy, Caen is a major service centre for all of western Normandy. Pop. (1999) 113,987 (2014 est.) 106,538.


WROXHAM’S OTHER CASTLE?

This HISTORY OF THE CAEN MEADOW was written in 1997 by PETER REEVE, headmaster of the former Montessori School, which adjoined the meadow. Mr Reeve maintains that it would take an archaeological dig to discover the full details of Wroxham’s past. Once again I have to thank Barry Gorbould, a collector of all things relating to the village, for this intriguing contribution.

There is more than one account of the origin of the name Caen Meadow but all point to a connection with Caen in Normandy following on from the Norman Conquest. We certainly know that St Mary’s church porch dates from that period and that the sandstone used is similar to that at Norwich Cathedral, which was imported from Caen. [See note with four asterisks under My Wroxham Boyhood.] It is also cited in a local history of Horstead and Stanninghall that the whole district, which included Wroxham, came under the domain of the Abbess of Caen until the dissolution of the monasteries.

Perhaps the most persuasive account comes from a family still resident in the village who maintain that at the top of the hill there once stood Caen Monastery and that in dry summers the outlines of the building’s walls could be discerned in the grass*. At a later date a tithe barn was built on the site which is where Caenyard House stands today. Indeed when this property was built in 1972 a lot of foundation material was cleared away while towards Holly Cottage a deep well was discovered, now covered over. Before the bulldozers moved in, it could also be seen that the land to the right of the hill was terraced, with a ditch running down towards the river.

At the bottom of the hill, to the right, there still remains a basin said to be for unloading wherries in living memory there were pilings along this stretch of the river. The opposite bank, where the alders have grown up, was once also Caen meadowland and there was a public path as far as Coltishall. The disposition of the oak trees on the Caen Meadow suggests that this noble view towards the river had been maintained from the time of the monastery. It is evidently a prime site and this begs the question: what was there before? It is possible to hazard a guess.

We now turn to accounts that there was once a Roman crossing point at what is now the public staithe. This would have been the first ford across the river from its source. The ground was firmer here and the river was so constricted that an old wherryman maintained it was once possible to lay an 18ft quant from one bank to the other.

We know the Romans were in Wroxham. A Roman coin was found on the track leading to the staithe and another in 1977 in the garden of Holly Cottage.

There was a second Roman crossing point over the Bure at Horstead, where there was a Roman camp, and a fort guarding that crossing. However the crossing point at Wroxham, it can be assumed, was more important, being the first ford, and was eminently defendable from the higher ground overlooking it. If there was a fort at Horstead, this argues for their being a fortification at Wroxham. Indeed, once the Danish longboats started to range up the Norfolk rivers the defence of strategic points was a necessity. Here it may be mentioned that the Bure entered the sea to the north of where Great Yarmouth is today and did not join the Yare estuary.

Then we have the puzzle of the origin of the name of the old Castle ale-house. Was Castle Street named after the public house or was the pub named after what once possibly stood at the other end of the road? From old records we know that Castle Street continued on past where the Victorian school was built as far as Holly Cottage, at that point narrowing and being called Church Land. The contention is that the name Castle Street derives from the road leading to the fortification or castle at the top of Caen Meadow and where the monastery was subsequently built.

*This is not to be confused with another account of a priory near old Wroxham Hall, further upriver.


The Castle that Helped Sink a Battleship

Castle Archdale, a small and largely forgotten lakeside keep in Northern Ireland, was instrumental in one of the Allies’ most significant naval victories of the Second World War. Located on the shores of Lower Lough Erne near Enniskillen, Archdale served as a major base for Allied PBY Catalina and Short Sunderland flying boats for much of the conflict. Situated at the far western tip of Northern Ireland, the remote outpost provided an ideal calm-water shelter for the Allied long-range patrol planes that ventured deep into the stormy Atlantic in search of German U-boats.

A secret deal between London and Dublin allowed British, and later American, flying boats to pass directly over the neutral airspace of the Irish Republic on their way out to their ocean hunting grounds. On May 26, 1941, a PBY from 209 Squadron flying out of Archdale spotted the elusive German battleship Bismarck. Once pinpointed, Royal Navy surface vessels and torpedo planes from the carrier HMS Ark Royal converged on the powerful warship and finished her off. The loss represented a crippling blow to the Kriegsmarine.


Battle of Caen, 6 June- 6 August 1944

The battle of Caen (6 June-6 August 1944) was one of the key battles during Operation Overlord, and although the British and Canadians achieved their main aims, the failure to capture Caen quickly caused a great deal of controversy.

Montgomery&rsquos plan for the battle of Normandy had always been to force the Germans to commit their strongest forces in the east, at what would appear to be the logical point for the Allied breakout towards Paris and the German frontier, allowing the Americans to break through further to the west and sweep into Brittany and behind the German armies fighting in Normandy. However the expectation had been that Caen would fall on D-Day or soon afterwards, giving the Allies control of the flat areas around the city, which were suitable for the construction of airfields.

The geography of Caen causes some confusion with directions. The River Orne generally flows from south to north, passes through Caen and on into the sea. Caen is split by the river, with the old town on the left bank of the river and a series of suburbs and industrial areas on the right bank. However in the city itself the river runs through an &lsquoS&rsquo bend, so the old town is north of the river, and some of the suburbs south of the river. The left bank is thus sometimes referred to as the west bank or the north back, while the right bank is the east or south bank. A second river, the Odon, flows generally north-east, and flows into the Orne just to the south of Caen.

D-Day and Operation Perch

On D-Day itself the British and Canadians succesfully landed on their beaches, but the 21st Panzer Division mounted a counterattack into the gap between Juno and Sword beaches, and this combined with slower than expected progress just inland meant that Caen remained in German hands at the end of the day.

On the evening of D-Day a force of tanks from the Staffordshire Yeomanry, supported by the 2nd King&rsquos Shropshire Light Infantry reached Lebisey Wood, only three miles to the north of the city. However the woods were held by a battlegroup from the 21st Panzer Division, and the British were unable to make any more progress.

Over the next couple of days the Germans had a brief chance to push the Allies back, as they moved three panzer divisions to Caen. However Rommel&rsquos fears about Allied air power proved correct. Panzer Lehr had to move from Le Mans, and although most of its tanks survived, many essential support vehicles were lost and the division wasn&rsquot fit to take part in an offensive when it reached Caen. The 12th SS Panzer Division suffered from a lack of fuel, and was then engaged by the Canadians at the Carpiquet airfield. 21st Panzer was split in half by the Orne, and was thus unable to carry out a coordinated counterattack. By 9 June Rommel had decided that the chance of pushing the Allies back into the sea had gone, and ordered his men to go onto the defensive while they prepared for a full scale counterattack.

Once it was clear that Caen wouldn&rsquot fall on D-Day, the Allied plans had to be altered. Operation Perch, which had originally been a plan for an advance to the south-east of Caen to convince the Germans the main Allied thrust would come in that area, was turned into a two-pronged assault on the city. This began on 10 June, but made little progress. Heavy fighting developed around Tilly-sur-Seulles, which changed hands several times over the next few days. The British were then informed that a gap had developed to the west of Caen, where the Americans had inflicted heavy damage on a German infantry division. In an attempt to take advantage of this Caumont Gap, the 7th Armoured Division was ordered to advance around the western end of the Panzer Lehr front at Tilly. By the morning of 13 June they had reached Villers-Bocage, but they were then ambushed by the famous tank ace Michael Wittmann, who destroyed three tanks in the centre of the village, and helped ambush a larger force to the east. A fierce battle developed around the town, but by the end of the day the British decided to withdraw. The last chance of taking Caen without a major battle had gone, although at this point the Germans were still capable of forming new lines, so the potential benefits of holding on to Villers-Bocage might well have been exaggerated since.

Operation Epsom, 26-27 June 1944

Montgomery decided to launch his next major attack on Caen to the west of the city. The objective of Operation Epsom was to breach the German lines west of the city, cross the Odon River, which flows north-east into the Orne at Caen, then cross the Orne and secure the high ground south-west of the city. The attack was to be carried out by the VIII Corps from Dempsey&rsquos British Second Army, while the XXX Corps would carry out a preliminary attack to capture Rauray Ridge, which overlooked the battlefield from the west. The original plan had called for air support from the UK, but that had to be scaled back because of bad weather. Bad weather, in particular the Great Storm of 19-21 June, slowed down the Allied build-up, so Epsom had to be postponed from mid June to later in the month.

The preliminary attack, Operation Martlet, began on 25 June. The aim was to carry high ground around Rauray, from where German artillery observers could call down fire onto the Epsom battlefield. The attack was carried out by the 49th Division, and failed to achieve its main objective. The division made good progress on its right, but stalled on the more important left flank. As a result the high ground around Rauray was still in German hands when Epsom began on 26 June. Martlet continued over the next few days, and Raurey finally fell on 27 June and the attack continued on the following day. However it soon became clear that the Germans were planning a counterattack, so the troops began to prepare to defend what they had captured.

Operation Epsom began with a three hour long artillery bombardment, which did a great deal of damage to the front line, but missed the second line. The 44th Highland and 46th Lowland Brigades then began to advance, and soon got past the first line. The German second line, just north of the Odon, held out for longer, but the Scots were able to capture Cheux, from where two roads ran down to the Odon. The British ended the day disappointed, but the Germans ended it worried. General Dietrich, commander of the I SS Panzer Corps, called for reinforcements to stop a breakthrough. Rommel eventually agreed to send four panzer divisions to the area, including the 9th and 10th SS Panzer Divisions from the newly arrived II SS Panzer Corps.

On 27 June the British finally crossed the Odon, and began to push south to Hill 112, from where they would have had a view into Caen. That night the German reinforcements began to arrive, and General Dollman insisted that they should launch an immediate counterattack on 28 June. This failed to achieve anything, and late in the day Dollman died, either of a heart attack or by committing suicide. On the British side the bridge over the Odon at Gavrus was captured intact, and tanks from the 11th Armoured Division reached the crest of Hill 112. However aerial reconnaissance and other sources of intelligence made it clear that a major German counterattack was likely. General Dempsey decided to cancel any attempt to advance towards the Orne, as that would just have made the narrow British beachhead even longer and even more vulnerable. The most advanced British troops were withdrawn, and a strong defensive position set up around the Odon.

German Odon Counterattack

On 1 July the Germans launched a major counterattack against the Epsom bridgehead. The main part of this attack came in the west, where the newly arrived II SS Panzer Corps attacked the right flank of the new bridgehead. On the left they attacked with Kampfgruppe Weidinger from the 2nd SS Panzer Division &lsquoDas Reich&rsquo. Next in line was the 9th SS Panzer Division &lsquoHohenstaufen&rsquo, with the 10th SS Panzer Division &lsquoFrundsburg&rsquo on the right of this attack.

On the British side the attack hit the 1st Tyneside Scottish at Rauray, coming from the Martlet force, and the Epsom forces further south. Their biggest advantage was that Ultra had provided warning of the upcoming attack. In order to avoid having any troops cut off, the most advanced forces were withdrawn.

The Germans had planned to attack at 3am, but the British launched a pre-emptive artillery bombardment. The Germans began to move at 6am, attacking from the west. On the left they got close to Rauray, but the British were able to move their support forces into action, and a series of attacks during the day were all defeated. In the centre the 9th SS Panzer Division attempted to take La Valtru, but without success. On the right the 10th SS Panzer Division briefly took Baron-sur-Odon, but were unable to hold onto it, while an attack from Hill 112 was broken up by British artillery. By the end of the day the British were back in their original position.

Although Epsom hadn&rsquot achieved all of its objectives, the British had captured a bridgehead over the Odon, and more importantly had forced the Germans to commit the newly arrived II SS Panzer Corp to the fighting at Caen, instead of being able to use it for a counterattack towards Bayeux. This set a pattern for the rest of the battle &ndash whenever the Germans were able to create an armoured reserve, the British and Canadians would attack at Caen and they would be forced to commit the Panzers to the defensive battle.

Operation Charnwood, 8-9 July

After another pause, Montgomery decided to launch a major attack on the northern part of Caen. A few days before the main attack the Canadians attempted to capture Carpiquet Airfield, to the west of the city (Operation Windsor, 4-5 July 1944). They were able to take the village itself, just to the north-east of the airfield, and the northern part of the airfield, but the Germans held on to the southern end.

Operation Charnwood itself would be carried out by three divisions from General Crocker&rsquos I Corps &ndash the 3rd Canadian on the right, the 59th (Staffordshire) Division in the centre and the 3rd Division on the left. It would be preceded by a massive bombing raid carried out by 467 Lancaster and Halifax heavy bombers, which was expected to achieve great things (especially by Harris). However the immediate impact of the raid was disappointing. The airmen insisted on carrying it out late on 7 July instead of on the morning of 8 July as planned, because the weather forecast suited them better on the 7th. As a result the Germans were able to recover from the shock before the attack hit. Second, Harris had insisted on a bomb line 6,000 yards ahead of the British and Canadian positions, and focused on Caen rather than the outlying villages, so the raid failed to hit many of the German defences, in the villages outside Caen.

The attack was launched by the 3rd and 59th Divisions. The 3rd Division made the quickest progress, and soon began to overwhelm the 16th Luftwaffe Field Division, which had just taken over in the northern part of Caen. Further west the 12st SS Panzer Division held on all day, but the German position was collapsing on its right. Overnight the Germans withdrew from all of Caen north of the Orne, and escaped across the river. At this point the Allied bombing held up their troops, and the Germans were able to form a new line along the river.

Charnwood was followed by Operation Jupiter (10-11 July 1944), an attempt to recapture Hill 112 on the Odon front. The British managed to gain a foothold on the hill, but were unable to entirely clear it. The attack ended after a day, with the British bridgehead slightly enlarged.

Operation Goodwood and Operation Atlantic, 18 July-

Although the northern part of Caen had fallen, the Germans still held the industrial south and east, including the towers of the Colombelles factories, an excellent observation position. They also appeared to be about to move troops west towards St. Lo and the key American sector. Montgomery decided to launch another large attack at Caen, this time in the area east of the city.

The key target for Operation Goodwood was a low, flat topped ridge just to the south of Caen. This was known as Bourguebus ridge to the British and Verrieres ridge to the Canadians, after villages on the eastern and western parts of the northern slopes of the ridge. This ridge is barely perceptible in photographs of the area, but it was just high enough to block views, to hide tanks and artillery or to give whoever controlled the higher ground a commanding view of the otherwise generally very flat area. While the armour carried out the main attack to the south, British infantry would clear the areas to the east of Caen, while the Canadians would clear the Germans out of the southern suburbs of the city, on the right bank of the Orne (Operation Atlantic). Goodwood would become one of the most controversial battles of the Normandy campaign, mainly because of differing expectations as to its objectives. To Montgomery the main aim of the battle was to pin down the German armour around Caen and prevent the Germans from moving reinforcements west to oppose the upcoming breakout (Operation Cobra). However in order to gain full support for his plans, and in particular to convince the RAF to carry out the massive bombardment he wanted, Montgomery appears to have overplayed the changes of a breakout towards Falaise. Eisenhower certainly appears to have expected something similar, as did the RAF high command.

In an attempt to distract the Germans, two attacks were launched west of Caen. Operation Greenline began on 15 July and saw the XII Corps attack towards Evrecy, which was captured during the battle, Operation Pomegrante began on 16 July and was carried out by XXX Corps. The two attacks helped convince the Germans to move the 9th SS Panzer Division Hohenstaufen to the west bank of the Orne.

Operation Goodwood was an ambitious attack. The biggest problem was that the British only held a small bridgehead east of the Orne and north of Caen, largely the area captured on D-Day. This wasn&rsquot large enough to take all three armoured divisions, so the leading troops would have to begin the attack while the second and third divisions were still crossing the Orne. As a result only part of the massive armoured force would actually get into action. 11th Armoured Division, which led the attack, would be fully engaged. The Guards Armoured Division would also be able to commit significant forces to the fighting. The 7th Armoured Division would hardly be involved at all. On the eastern flank the 3rd Infantry Division and 152nd (Highland) Brigade were to protect the left flank of the armoured assault.

The attackers also faced very strong defences, with five interconnected defensive lines running back for ten miles from the front. However they lost Rommel, who was badly injured in an air attack on 17 July and never returned to the front. The German line east of Caen was held by the LXXXVI Corps, with the remains of the 16th Luftwaffe Division and the 356th Infantry Division in the front line and the 21st Panzer Division in reserve. The I SS Panzer Corps was further to the south, and both of its panzer divisions had been withdrawn from the front line &ndash the 12th SS Panzer Division to regroup and recover and the 1st SS Panzer Division as the local reserve. The Germans also had a fairly significant number of guns on the Bourgeubus ridge.

The battle began with another massive air attack, this time with 2,600 British and American bombers, dropping 7,500 tons of bombs onto carefully selected targets around the attack area. The artillery opened fire at 0640, and the advance began at 0745. At first the British tanks made very good progress, and they were soon approaching Bourguebus ridge. However they then ran into intact German defences, and had got too far ahead of their supporting infantry. The Guards Armoured Division joined the fighting, but instead of the much anticipated tank breakthrough, the battle turned into a series of small scale fights for individual villages. On the German side the ease with which the British had advanced as far as they did caused a great deal of concern. The 1st SS Panzer Division was ordered to launch a counterattack, but this wasn&rsquot actually noticed by the British at the time! On the left flank the British infantry also made decent progress, capturing a series of villages and pushing the Germans away from the eastern edge of Caen. 19 July saw a German counterattack that was repulsed along most of the line, while the British cleared up those villages that hadn&rsquot fallen on the previous day.

On the Allied right the Canadians carried out Operation Atlantic, with the aim of protecting the right flank of Goodwood and clearing the Germans out of the last bits of Caen. It was carried out by General Guy Simonds&rsquo newly activated Canadian 2nd Corps. The Canadian 3rd Division was to attack from the Orne bridgehead in the north and from the city centre, while the Canadian 2nd Division attacked from the west of Caen. Atlantic also began on 18 July. On their left the 3rd Division captured Colombelles village and steelworks, the chateau de Colombelles and Giberville, although in some cases only after day long battles. The 9th Brigade, coming from the north, advanced down the right bank of the river and attacked the suburb of Vaucelles, south of the city centre. The German defenders withdrew to avoid being cut off. In the west the 2nd Division attack began in the evening. On their right the division was held up at Louvigny, but in the centre and left they were able to bridge the Orne and cross into Vaucelles.

On 19 July the Canadians successfully cleared the remaining Germans out of southern Caen. However this ended the successful part of the operation. On 20 July they pushed south onto the Bourgeubus Ridge, and ran into intact German defences. Poor weather limited the amount of air support available, and the Germans were even able to launch successful counterattacks. The same was repeated on 21 July and 22 July, before the operation ended. Atlantic had achieved its main aim of clearing Caen, but the ridges south of the city remained in German hands. Once again this was only achieved by moving armour east of the Orne, making it unavailable to deal with Operation Cobra.

Although Goodwood is now mainly remembered as a failed breakthrough, it actually achieved Montgomery&rsquos main aim of pinning the German armour down around Caen. It also greatly worried the Germans &ndash General Eberbach considered it to have been a great defeat, and coming very close to achieving a breakthrough, while for von Kluge it indicated that the battle of Normandy was lost. On 21 July he reported to Hitler that the German line &lsquoalready so heavily strained, will break.

After Goodwood

Although Goodwood and Atlantic left Caen securely in Allied hands, the official dates for the battle of Caen take it up to 8 August, and the start of Operation Totalize, the first major Canadian attack towards Falaise. Fighting did continue around Caen, although it was soon overshadowed by Operation Cobra, the start of the American breakthrough, which began on 25 July. The general aim around Caen was to push the Germans further away from the city. On 22 July 1944 British troops attacked to the south of Caen (Operation Express), and captured the village of Maltot, just west of the Orne and less than five miles from the city centre.

The biggest of these attacks was Operation Spring (25-26 July 1944), a Canadian attack on the Verrieres ridge. The attack was to be carried out by the newly activated Canadian 2nd Corps, under General Simonds. The corps contained the 2nd and 3rd Canadian Infantry Divisions, of which the 3rd had suffered heavy casualties on D-Day and the 2nd was new to battle, the Canadian 2nd Armoured Brigade and 2nd Army Group Royal Artillery.

Planning for this attack began on 21 July, in response to a delay in the start of Operation Cobra from 20 July. The aim was to push the Germans off the slightly higher ground south of the city, and pin them down in the east. However this area was strongly defended, and the Germans had access to a series of mine tunnels that linked several of the villages. When the Canadians attacked, the Germans were thus able to pop up in areas that were meant to have been cleared, preventing the attack from gaining any momentum. The Canadian attacks on 25 July were defeated at heavy cost, making it the second most costly day for Canada during the entire war, second only to Dieppe. The attack only took one of its objectives, and had to be called off early on 26 July when the bad news reached General Simonds. However the attack did achieve its main aim, pinning the Germans down south of Caen. It also attracted the attention of Field Marshal Kluge, who spent 25 July on the Caen front, just as the western end of the German front was crumbling. Kluge didn&rsquot leave the Caen area until the afternoon of 27 July, by which time the breakthrough had begun.

The main focus on the British front then moved west, to Operation Bluecoat, which began on 28 July. This saw two British corps attack from the Caumont area, half way between Caen and Saint Lo, with the aim of supporting the American advance.

Over the next few days the Americans broke right through the German lines and began to fan out into Brittany to the west and towards Le Mans in the east. It soon became clear that there was now a chance to trap a large part of the German army in Normandy, if the Canadians could push south from Caen and the Americans push north from around Le Mans and Alencon. The new target would be Falaise. The official end date of the battle of Caen is thus the same day as the start of the first Canadian attempt to break through to Falaise, Operation Totalize (8-11 August 1944).

The battle of Caen was key to the overall Allied victory in Normandy, but it wasn&rsquot as glamorous and its successes less obvious than Operation Cobra. Repeated British and Canadian attacks made slow but steady progress, rarely reaching their more optimistic targets. Montgomery often failed to fully explain his overall plan, and on occasion even Eisenhower began to worry. However on the German side each of the famous offensives caused a great deal of alarm. Every time they managed to release their panzer divisions from the front, there would be another attack, and they would have to be committed to desperate defensive battles. The same happened to fresh divisions as they reached Normandy. Perhaps the most important example of this was the decision to commit the two freshly committed Panzer divisions of the II SS Panzer Corps to the fight against Operation Epsom, a move that forced Rommel to abandon his own plans for an attack towards Bayeux. Goodwood was seen as a disaster on the German side, and a sign that the front was about to crack. Even Operation Spring, a costly failure for the Canadians, distracted Field Marshal Kluge at the moment when he was needed on the American front. The long bitter battle for Caen may have been controversial, but it drew in most of the German panzers, and helped pave the way for the spectacular American breakthrough then breakout at the other end of the line.

Stout Hearts: The British and Canadians in Normandy 1944, Ben Kite. Looks in detail at the role of each element in the British and Canadian military machine during the Normandy Campaign, including each aspect of the ground forces from the infantry to the armour, intelligence, reconnaissance and medical services, as well as the air support and the fire power provided by the massive Allied fleets off the Normandy coast. A very useful companion to narrative accounts of the campaign, helping to explain how the British and Canadians managed to overcome the determined German resistance on their front [read full review]

Mémorial de Caen: No trip to the D-Day Landing Beaches is complete without a visit to the Mémorial de Caen just be sure to designate a full afternoon to it. This vast museum focuses both on the history and repercussions of war in the 20th century, as well as post-war peace keeping. Inaugurated in 1988, the museum stands on the very soil where some of the fighting for Caen took place in 1944, and perhaps understandably its D-Day exhibit is particularly fascinating, using a large split screen to depict the D-Day Landings simultaneously from Allied and German viewpoints.

Vaugueux neighbourhood: With its Caen-stone houses dating back to the Middle Ages, this neighbourhood is probably one of the most popular, best-known parts of Caen. It is also a trendy nightspot whose many restaurants and bars come to life in the evenings along the main street (rue du Vaugueux) and old town square. Edith Piaf herself used to come here to see her grandparents, who ran a café in the neighbourhood!

Hôtel d’Escoville: One of Caen’s finest buildings, which now houses the local tourist office

The marina: Just around the corner from one of the liveliest, best-restored corners of the old city centre, this scenic marina full of yachts and surrounded by smart modern apartment blocks may come as a pleasant surprise to anyone unfamiliar with Caen, and is a great place for a stroll.

Jardin des Plantes: Caen prides itself on being a green city and this botanical garden is one of the many reasons why. Thanks to Gallard de la Ducquerie, a professor at Caen’s Faculty of Medicine, who acquired the land in 1689 and filled it with rare plants, the garden is now home to over 2,000 different species.

Women’s Abbey: This abbey was built for Queen Matilda on a similarly grand scale to the Men’s Abbey between 1060 and 1080. The 11th-century Church of the Holy Trinity is a fine example of Norman architecture and houses the tomb of Queen Matilda, wife of William the Conqueror. The superb crypt, with its barrel vaults supported by 16 close-ranked columns, is remarkable, as are the 18th-century convent and French-style garden.

Men’s Abbey: William the Conqueror, to regain the favour of the Pope, who disapproved of his marriage to his distant cousin, Matilda Princess of Flanders, ordered the construction of the Men’s Abbey in 1066. Construction began in the Norman style but the abbey was completed in gothic style in the 13th century, and houses William’s tomb. The abbey is an architectural masterpiece, its elegant lines mixing the simplicity of Norman architecture with gothic intricacy. The large monastic buildings later attached to the abbey now house Caen Town Hall.

Caen Castle: One of the largest walled fortifications in Europe, this castle was built for William the Conqueror, who made Caen into a great centre of power in Normandy. Damaged during the bombings of 1944, the castle has since been restored and its extensive walls and towers make for an impressive sight. Within the ramparts, explore the castle’s two museums, the Musée des Beaux-Arts (Fine Arts Museum) and the Musée de Normandie (which explores the region’s history and ethnography). Also worth a visit at Caen Castle are the Salle de l’Échiquier (Treasury Chamber) and Church of Saint-Georges.


How to get to Caen

Caen is conveniently situated two hours from Paris by train and a mere 15 minutes from the cross-Channel port of Ouistreham, which operates regular sailings to Portsmouth in the UK. The city also has its own airport in the neighbouring town of Carpiquet. Caen is within driving distance of popular Normandy attractions including Bayeux and its famous tapestry, the D-Day Landing Beaches, and the picturesque Pays d’Auge, home of cider and cheese. Beaches and towns where you can enjoy traditional seaside fun are also just on the doorstep. Caen even boasts its own yachting marina, the Bassin Saint-Pierre, right in the heart of town.


Wiltshire Community History


The town of Devizes developed around the Norman castle which was probably built c.1080 by Osmund, Bishop of Salisbury. There is little evidence of prehistoric settlement on the site, but some Roman remains have been found in the Southbroom area of the town.

The castle was built on a promontory on the western edge of the Marlborough Downs with the valley of the Avon to the west and the Pewsey Vale to the east, 9 miles from Calne, 14 miles from Marlborough and 12 miles from Trowbridge. Because Osmund built his castle on the boundaries of the King's manor of Rowde and his own manors of Cannings and Potterne it became known as ' castrum ad divisas', the castle at the boundaries.

The original castle was probably a motte, or tower, of wood with an outer bailey protected by a ditch, stockade and drawbridge. This structure burnt down in 1113 and was rebuilt in stone by Richard of Caen, Osmund's successor as Bishop of Salisbury. The castle was described by a contemporary, Henry of Huntingdon, as 'the finest and most splendid in Europe', but little now remains of it apart from fragments of the foundations.

On several occasions important prisoners were held in Devizes castle, an indication of how impregnable it was considered to be. In 1106 Robert of Normandy, the eldest son of William the Conqueror, was imprisoned here when his younger brother Henry seized the throne during Robert's absence at the First Crusade. He was to remain a prisoner at Devizes for the next twenty years before being moved to Cardiff where he died in 1134.

The years 1139 to 1141 were full of incident for the inhabitants of the castle and the town that was developing outside its walls. The heir to the throne, following the death of the King Henry I's only son, was his daughter Matilda, who was also known as the Empress Maud as she was the widow of the Holy Roman Emperor. Henry I died in 1135 having extracted an oath from the barons and bishops, including Roger, that they would accept her as queen, but his nephew, Stephen of Blois, invaded England to claim the throne and was supported by many of the barons and bishops.

At this time Roger was one of the most powerful and influential men in England. During Henry's reign he had been appointed Justiciar of England, as well as being Bishop of Salisbury, and had deputised for the King when Henry was abroad. In addition Roger had appointed his natural son, also called Roger, to the post of Chancellor and two of his nephews to bishoprics.

Roger declared his support for Stephen but he must have been considered a dangerous ally as, in 1139, during an assembly at Oxford, Stephen used a disagreement between his French followers and Roger's retainers as an excuse to arrest Roger, his son and nephews. Matilda (also called Maud) of Ramsbury, who was Roger's mistress and the mother of his son, was at this time holding Devizes castle but when Stephen arrived and threatened to hang her son she surrendered the castle to him. Bishop Roger was freed but forced to surrender all his possessions to Stephen and he died later in the year, a broken man.

Meanwhile Matilda and her followers were advancing through the West Country and so Stephen now moved on to try to stop her, besieging the castle at Trowbridge on the way, and leaving a party of soldiers to hold the castle at Devizes.

Robert Fitzhugh, a Flemish adventurer stated that if he held Devizes Castle he could control all the lands between London and the west, and in Stephen's absence he captured the castle, using leather ladders to avoid waking the garrison. He proceeded to lay waste the surrounding country and when Matilda's brother Robert, Earl of Gloucester, sent a force to take over the castle for Matilda he refused to hand it over. Eventually he was captured and when his men refused to surrender the castle in return for their leader's life Fitzhugh and two of his nephews were hanged in front of them. Stephen subsequently regained control by paying the remaining mercenaries to leave. Count Hervey of Brittany, Stephen's son-in-law, took over the castle, but the local townspeople had become so disenchanted by the activities of Fitzhugh that in 1141 they besieged the castle and eventually forced Hervey to surrender to Matilda's forces. By this stage Stephen had been captured at Lincoln and Matilda had been proclaimed Queen although she was never crowned. In gratitude to the people of Devizes she granted them freedom from certain tolls, which in effect gave them the right to hold a regular market.

For the remaining seven years of the civil war Devizes stayed in Matilda's hands, although Stephen's troops sometimes ravaged the surrounding areas, and she was often in the town.

Matilda retired to Normandy in 1148 and died in 1167. Her son Henry took up the cause and used Devizes as a base for campaigns in the West Country. He successfully repelled an attack on the castle by Stephen's son Eustace. Eventually he forced Stephen to recognise him as his heir.

The Crown retained possession of the castle until the seventeenth century, and together with the land around Devizes and Rowde, the Old and New Parks and the right of appointment to the forests of Chippenham and Melksham it made a very important royal gift.

The castle was again used as a prison when King John's second wife, Isabella, was sent there in 1206. She gave birth to a son there in 1209, and in 1216 John sent the Royal regalia and crown jewels to the castle for safe keeping. John died later that year and was succeeded by his nine-year-old son, Henry III, who was living in the castle at the time in the care of the governor.

During the 12th and 13th centuries the town of Devizes developed outside the castle with craftsmen and traders setting up businesses to provide the residents of the castle with goods and services. Following the granting by Matilda of the charter allowing a market, the town grew rapidly. The layout of the streets followed the line of the castle's defence ditches, of which there were four, and the regularity of the burgage plots in New Park Street and the Market Place suggests that it was deliberately planned, rather than developing piece meal. The medieval market place was in the large space outside St Mary's Church, rather than in the modern Market Place, which at that time would have been within the castle's outer bailey. A market cross stood near to the White Bear Inn in Monday Market Street.

The town had achieved such importance by 1295 that it was summoned to send two representatives to Edward I's Model Parliament, and continued to be represented in most other parliaments of the period, although there seems to have been an economic decline from 1332 to1336 when the town's importance was reduced and it was not represented.

The first mention of a market in Devizes is for 1228 although there were probably earlier ones established without royal permission. In 1567 a second market was granted, to be held in St. Mary's parish on Mondays, but it seems to have ceased by 1814. A Thursday market, which had been established by 1609, is still held weekly in the Market Place.

The chief products in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries were corn, wool and yarn, with cheese, bacon and butter increasing in importance later. Fish was brought up from Poole, and John Aubrey considered Devizes to be the best fish market in the county. By the early nineteenth century there was a twice weekly market for butchers meat and in 1842 the market for corn and malt was described as one of the most important in England.

Over the centuries various commodity markets lapsed and were revived again. The cheese market had finally ceased by 1903 when the market was said to be for corn, poultry, butter and vegetable. In 1939 corn, cattle, pigs and poultry were sold, though by then cattle and corn were of minor importance.

The actual sites of the different markets have changed over the years. The first markets were held in front of St Mary's Church, but with the physical deterioration of the castle defences the townspeople gradually took over the open area of the castle bailey where the present Market Place is situated. Other areas which have been used include Short Street, Wine Street, St. John's Street and High Street.


A number of market halls were built at different periods to house the corn market, cheese market, wool market and butchers shambles. The Corn Exchange was built in 1857 and has a statue of Ceres, the Roman goddess of the harvest, surmounting it. The Shambles, in the corner of the Market Place, was built in 1838, and now houses market stalls on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

The present market cross was the gift of Lord Sidmouth and one side of it tells the story of Ruth Pierce, a market woman from Potterne, who dropped dead in the Market Place in 1753 after lying about payment for a purchase of wheat.

The earliest fair in Devizes was granted in 1208 for the benefit of the local lepers. It was to be held yearly on the eve and feast of St. Denis (8th and 9th October), but by 1223 the Bishop of Salisbury seems to have displaced the lepers and was disputing the rights of the fair with the constable of the castle. Other fairs are recorded between this time and the sixteenth century when, in 1567 the corporation was granted two fairs of its own. In 1685 the Crown granted another new fair, known locally as the 'wholesale fair', to be held in St. John's parish on 10th April.

By 1759 there were seven fairs, held on Candlemas (13th February), Maundy Thursday, Trinity Thursday, 15th July, 9th September, 2nd and 20th October. Some fairs specialised in particular merchandise: the Trinity fair, for example was predominantly for horses, while the one in July was for wool.

As with the markets the fairs prospered and declined over the years with the occasional revival but the remaining two, held in July and February, ceased in 1939 and 1942 respectively.

The direct involvement of Devizes in the war between King Charles I and Parliament was due partly to its position between the King's headquarters in Oxford and the south west of England where he had strong support. This made the town of strategic importance to both sides. At the outbreak of the war the town's two MPs, Edward Bayntun and Robert Nicholas, were supporters of Parliament but there was strong Royalist sympathy within the town led by the mayor, Richard Pierce.

When the war broke out in 1642 some of the castle's fortifications were repaired and locks, chains and barricades were set up across the road entering the town from London.

In 1643 the Royalist Sir Ralph Hopton and his army fought a series of engagements with the Parliamentary forces under Sir William Waller, culminating in an indecisive battle at Lansdowne near Bath. Hopton was injured in an explosion and the Royalists made for Devizes where they could hold off Waller's forces while Hopton recovered. Waller camped near the village of Roundway and besieged the town. Hopton's men were very short of ammunition and, following the failure of a relief party to reach Devizes, it was decided to send a small party of cavalry to Oxford to fetch guns, powder and bullets. In the meanwhile Hopton ordered his men to collect all the bed cords in the town and to boil them in resin to make match. Lead was stripped from the church roofs to melt down to make bullets.

Waller began to bombard the town with cannon balls and canister shot and at one stage his cavalry reached the outer streets of the town but failed to get through the heavy barricades. As he was expecting reinforcements to arrive Hopton refused to surrender and employed delaying tactics to play for time. Waller, confident that Royalist reinforcements would be intercepted before they reached him, agreed to a six hour parley. This turned out to be a fatal mistake as the Royalists were not stopped and Waller had to hastily redeploy his men to face the relief force.

At 4.00 p.m. the Royalists under Lord Wilmot reached Roundway Down. They had fired a gun at Roughridge Hill to alert Hopton to their arrival but his officers, fearing a trick, persuaded him not to leave the town. This left the relief force outnumbered three to one.

The battle was fought on the Downs between Roughridge Hill, King's Play Hill, Roundway Hill and Morgan's Hill. Initial attacks by the Parliamentarians were repulsed and the Royalist Cavalry, despite attacking uphill, put the opposing cavalry to flight and pursued them for three miles across the Downs to a steep hillside. Many of the Parliamentary men and their horses were killed in what became known as the 'Bloody Ditch'. Hopton, realising that a battle was taking place, emerged from the town and his infantry helped turn the Parliamentarian retreat into a rout. Waller escaped to Bristol but his army was almost totally destroyed.

For the next two years Devizes remained under Royalist control, during which time the King arranged for more work to be done on improving the castle's fortifications. The moat was cleared and the drawbridge repaired.

The castle was manned by four hundred Welshmen under Sir Charles Lloyd when Oliver Cromwell reached Devizes in September 1645 and demanded their surrender. Following their refusal Cromwell set up 10 guns in the Market Place and bombarded the castle. One shell landed in the roofless keep where the powder was stored and although it failed to explode Lloyd surrendered. He and his officers were allowed to join the king at Oxford. Parliament ordered that the castle should be destroyed and this was carried out in 1648.

There is little evidence of any established industry before the fourteenth century but from this period the leather, metal and textile trades seem to have predominated. In the sixteenth century Devizes became known for its white woollen broadcloth but in the following century the trade in white cloth apparently declined and was replaced by serge manufacture and later the production of drugget, which was being exported to Russia up to about 1753. Felt was also made.

In about 1785 John Anstie built a factory for the production of cassimere, a closely woven fancy fabric, and in 1788 he was said to have three hundred looms in use. Much of this cloth was sold abroad but the French wars severely limited trade, with the result that he went bankrupt in 1793.

From this period there was a decline in the textile trades in Devizes but other trades continued to establish themselves. These included clock making, a bell foundry, booksellers, milliners, grocers and silversmiths.

Two trades of particular importance came to prominence in the eighteenth century: these were brewing and tobacco. Brewing and malting had been carried out on a small scale for centuries, but in the mid eighteenth century the firm of Rose and Tylee was established and the site of their brewery, in Northgate Street, is now part of the brewers Wadworth and Co. who were founded in 1875.

From the early part of the eighteenth century tobacco was cured and snuff ground in Devizes. The earliest records are of Richard Anstie who had a shop on the corner of Snuff Street and the Market Place. For some years William Leach used two windmills, originally built to grind oilseed rape, which stood on the old castle motte, to grind snuff. The Anstie family continued its interest in tobacco with a factory in John Anstie's former cloth factory. In 1944 the Imperial Tobacco Company bought the business. The production of snuff ceased in 1957 and the curing of tobacco in 1961.

The construction of the Kennet and Avon Canal at the end of the 18th century revealed a large area of Gault and lower greensand clays which were ideal for brickmaking. The Devizes Brick and Tile Company was founded at Caen Hill and continued production until its closure in 1961.

New industries developed in the nineteenth century and continued into the twentieth. These included agricultural engineering (Brown and May, and T.H.White Ltd.), building contractors (W.E.Chivers and Sons Ltd., and Rendells), dairy produce (North Wilts Dairy Co. Ltd.), bacon production (Central Wiltshire Bacon Co.) and electrical manufacturing (Cross Manufacturing Co. and the Hinchley Engineering Co.). During World War II a flax industry was established to make parachute harnesses and tents.

The Kennet and Avon Canal was constructed between 1794 and 1810. It linked Devizes to Bristol and London, and to the Wilts and Berks Canal at Semington and the Somerset Coal Canal. Because of opposition from a local landowner the route for the canal caused major technical problems: within a distance of 2 1/2 miles it had to rise 237 feet from the valley of the Avon to the Pewsey Vale. This was accomplished by means of 29 locks, 17 of them in one flight at Caen Hill.

The main cargo on the canal was coal from Somerset, and the Wharf became a depot for its distribution. Other cargoes included Devizes beer for London, West Indian tobacco from Bristol for Anstie's factory, and building materials.

The success of the canal was short lived. The railway arrived in Devizes in 1857 but GWR had purchased the canal in 1852 and its use gradually declined and it fell into disuse.

In 1951 the fight to save the canal began in earnest with the formation of the Kennet and Avon Canal Association, and in 1990 the Queen celebrated the reopening of the full length of the canal by travelling through one of the locks at Caen Hill.

Proposals for a railway service for Devizes were made as early as 1836 but they come to nothing. Five years later the steep incline at Caen Hill caused Brunel to adopt the Swindon to Chippenham main line route from London to Bristol rather than taking the line through Devizes and Bradford-on-Avon. Opposition from local landowners also delayed things but in 1856 the Somerset and Weymouth Railway agreed to extend a single line track from Holt Junction to Devizes and the service opened in 1857. In 1862 the Great Western Railway opened an extension of the Berkshire and Hampshire line from Hungerford which linked Devizes to London, but the building of the Westbury line through Lavington again bypassed Devizes. The railway closed in 1966.

Churches: Information on both current and disused churches and chapels.

Schools: Information on both current and closed schools.

Photographs: If images have been added for this community they are available here.: We hold a collection of over 50,000 photographs of places in Wiltshire in the County Local Studies Library. These may be viewed at this library and copies of out of copyright material may be purchased. We can search for a picture of a building or event if you e-mail us with details.

Historical Sources: A select list of books and articles is listed in 'Printed material'. You may go directly to the actual text from some of these.

Printed Material: This is a select book-list for the community but in the case of a town there may be hundreds more books, pamphlets and journal articles.

The full text of some items is available to view on this site.

The Victoria History of Wiltshire (opens in new window) is a partnership between local authorities and the Institute of Historical Research at London University. The History of Wiltshire is now the largest county history in the country and is still growing. The volumes are divided between general and topographical with Volumes One to Five covering subjects such as prehistory, ecclesiastical, economic and political history. The Volumes from Six onwards are topographical and will ultimately provide a comprehensive and systematic history of every single town and parish in the county.

(opens in new window) Explore Wiltshire's Past web site

Newspapers from 1738: These newspapers covered this community at different times. Newspaper titles in bold text are either the ones you should check first for information about this community.

Maps: listed are maps on which you can find this community. All maps are Ordnance Survey maps.

Archaeological Sites: A Sites and Monuments Record (opens new window) is maintained by the County Archaeology Service and covers some 20,000 sites. The Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society was formed in 1853 and have been publishing an annual journal since 1854. The journal contains both substantial articles and shorter notes on archaeological excavations, finds, museum objects, local history, genealogy and natural history.

History of Buildings: The collections of the Wiltshire Buildings Record are housed in the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre at Chippenham.

Listed Buildings: The number of buildings, or groups of buildings, listed, as being of architectural or historical importance, is 323. There are five Grade I listings, Devizes Castle, No. 17 Market Place, Brownstone House and wall, the Church of St. Mary and the Church of St. John the Baptist, and 46 Grade II* listings.

Local Authors: There could be an author who was born or has lived in this community.

Literary Associations: Some communities have featured in novels or may have been the main setting for a book.

Registration Districts: If you want to obtain a copy of a birth, marriage or death certificate you can contact the local registrar.

Search the Wiltshire Studies Catalogue This will take you to our library catalogue where you will need to limit to 'Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre' for branch and re-enter your search term to find books on the subject. Please enter more than one word, e.g. 'Salisbury + market' unless you are looking for a small community.

If you have a local history enquiry, contact the County Local Studies Library


From February to December (except December 25th and January 1st) daily 10am-6pm
July and August daily 10am-7pm
Guided tours (free) Weekends and holidays English 11:30am French 3:30pm
July and August: Daily English 11:30am anmd 3:30pm French 10am and 2pm

Admission
Adult 7.50 euros children 6-16 years 3.50 euros
Family pass (2 adults and child between 6 and 16 years) 18 euros

Falaise Tourist Office
Boulevard de la Libération
14700 Falaise, Calvados, Normandy
Tél.: +33 (0)2 31 90 17 26
Falaise Tourism Website

Where to Eat in Falaise
La Fine Fourchette
52 rue Georges Clemenceau
14700 Falaise, Normandy
Tel.: 00 33 (0)2 31 90 08 59
A welcoming, friendly local restaurant, family run with father and son turning out very good dishes, particularly fish. Set menus from 16 euros and a good a la carte.


Watch the video: Château de Caen. CAEN CASTLE NORMANDIE FRANCE


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