Anniversary of the great fire

Exactly 265 years ago today, a fire gutted the once-splendid Dudley Castle.

The great fire of Dudley Castle, which started on July 24, 1750, raged for three day and three nights and at its height could be seen in Birmingham.

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CAPTION: Presentation Assistant Amy Hickman recalls the stories surrounding the Tudor Sharington Range, part of the 11th Dudley Castle which was gutted by fire on July 24, 1750.

It was allowed to burn due to the locals thinking there was gunpowder being stored there by the local militia. 

Dudley parish register contains an entry that tells of the events:

“Be it always remembered Dudley Castle was on fire on St James’ fair day eve July 24th and was burning the 25th and 26th.  The folks would not go near it on account of the powder said to be in the armoury.  The eastern end of the roof being mostly lead, it ran down the hill red hot and set fire to the long grass which looked for a time like the whole hill was in flames and sadly feared the towns folk.”

DZG Presentation Assistant and castle expert Amy Hickman said: “Nobody knows what started the fire. Lots of theories have been offered from coin forgers overheating a crucible that set fire to wooden beams and floors to flour being stored near to a fireplace and combusting.

“The truth is we don’t know. What we can be sure of is that the fire literally ended the habitation of this once-magnificent building.”

No attempt was made to rebuild the castle after the blaze and it was allowed to fall into the role of the romantic ruin which stands at the heart of the zoological gardens today.