Medieval Disputes and John of Gaunt

Throughout the medieval period, royal power struggles meant that Trowbridge passed through several hands. Through marriage, it eventually passed to the Royal Duchy of Lancaster, with Henry IV in control. John of Gaunt, one of the most powerful figures in medieval England became Lord of Trowbridge Manor. He was effectively Regent of England during the childhood of Richard II. It was from John of Gaunt that the later Tudor monarchs were to trace their descent. He is also known as being the patron of Geoffrey Chaucer, author of the famous ‘Canterbury Tales’. Gaunt’s son, Henry Bolingbroke, seized the English throne from Richard in 1399 and Trowbridge became part of the Crown Estates.

An early photograph of Gloucester building of The John of Gaunt School, Trowbridge

A photograph of the Gloucester Building of The John of Gaunt School, now you know why it is called John of Gaunt.

During this period, Trowbridge had developed into a small trade and manufacturing town, woollen cloth production becoming the main industry. Burgage plots in which craftsmen, tradesmen and artisans could rent and build houses on were created, including ones in Castle Street and Silver Street. Whilst the market thrived, the castle had now fallen into disrepair, the stone reused in other buildings. A new church, St James’s, was built in the 12th Century, replacing the previous Saxon one, although this was substantially rebuilt in the 1400’s.

Next: Wool and Clothiers