Surpierre castle was a bailiff's castle in the Canton of Fribourg. In the 12th century there was a fort at Surpetra, though whether that was at the current castle site or another nearby location is unknown. The fief of Surpierre was owned by a noble family of the same name from 1142 until 1233. In the 13th century the de Cossonay family owned Surpierre and a number of surrounding villages. In the late 13th century a small castle was built on the site of the current one. A few elements of this castle were incorporated into the modern castle, including a square tower and the pointed arch windows in the chapel. By 1344 there was a small fortified village on the hill by the castle. During the 14th and 15th centuries the castle passed through a number of different owners. In 1476 and again in 1539 the castle was severely damaged in fires.
In 1536 the cantons of Bern, Fribourg and Valais invaded Vaud and defeated the Savoyard forces. On 21 February 1536 Surpierre was captured by Bern, who then gave it to Fribourg on 1 March, creating a small exclave. Under Fribourg's rule, a bailiff was appointed and granted authority over the land around Surpierre. The castle was rebuilt into a home for the Fribourg bailiff. In 1544 the castle was damaged in a fire, and the Fribourg authorities decided to rebuild it from its medieval design into an imposing government center and a comfortable home for the bailiff. Several additional buildings were added to the complex and an ornate main gate was added. A drawbridge was added over the dry moat and gardens were built around the castle. Over the following centuries, the Fribourg appointed bailiffs ruled over the exclave.
In 1848 the little Fribourg exclave became part of the Broye District and the district purchased the castle. Two years later, in 1850, it was acquired by the Marseille merchant Victor-Henri Leenhart-Imer. After passing through several owners, in 1951 Max Bürki bought it from the Delpech family.References:
Castle Rushen is located in the Isle of Man"s historic capital, Castletown. The castle is amongst the best examples of medieval castles in the British Isles, and is still in use as a court house, museum and educational centre.
The exact date of castle is unknown, although construction is thought to have taken place during the reigns of the late 12th century and early 13th century rulers of the Isle of Man – the Kings of Mann and the Isles. The original Castle Rushen consisted of a central square stone tower, or keep. The site was also fortified to guard the entrance to the Silver Burn. From its early beginnings, the castle was continually developed by successive rulers of Mann between the 13th and 16th century. The limestone walls dominated much of the surrounding landscape, serving as a point of dominance for the various rulers of the Isle of Man. By 1313, the original keep had been reinforced with towers to the west and south. In the 14th century, an east tower, gatehouses, and curtain wall were added.
After several more changes of hands the English and their supporters eventually prevailed. The English king Edward I Longshanks claimed that the island had belonged to the Kings of England for generations and he was merely reasserting their rightful claim to the Isle of Man.
The 18th century saw the castle in steady decay. By the end of the century it was converted into a prison. Even though the castle was in continuous use as a prison, the decline continued until the turn of the 20th century, when it was restored under the oversight of the Lieutenant Governor, George Somerset, 3rd Baron Raglan. Following the restoration work, and the completion of the purpose-built Victoria Road Prison in 1891, the castle was transferred from the British Crown to the Isle of Man Government in 1929.
Today it is run as a museum by Manx National Heritage, depicting the history of the Kings and Lords of Mann. Most rooms are open to the public during the opening season (March to October), and all open rooms have signs telling their stories. The exhibitions include a working medieval kitchen where authentic period food is prepared on special occasions and re-enactments of various aspects of medieval life are held on a regular basis, with particular emphasis on educating the local children about their history. Archaeological finds made during excavations in the 1980s are displayed and used as learning tools for visitors.