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.

Picture of John of Gaunt School, Trowbridge

John of Gaunt School, formerly the Girls High School

During this period, Trowbridge became a small trading and manufacturing town and the woollen trade steadily grew in importance through the sale of undyed cloth “in the say” to the continent. Burgage plots, each one a combined dwelling and workshop with a side passage, were established in Fore Street, Back Street and Silver Street and rented out to artisans and tradesmen. Whilst the market thrived, the castle had now fallen into disrepair, the stone reused in other buildings.