By a charter of Edward I, it was constituted a Stannary prison. Richard Strode, of Newnham Park, one of the principal gentry of the county, moved in Parliament to restrain the miners from discharging their refuse into the rivers with the result of choking up the harbours. The miners were so incensed against him that they captured him in 1512, had him summarily tried by their Stannary Laws, on Crockern Tor, and threw him into Lydford gaol, where he languished for some time, and it was with considerable difficulty that his release was obtained.
What with Forest Laws and Stannary Laws, Lydford Castle rarely lacked tenants. Even in 1399 Lydford law was held in bad repute, for Wright, in his collection of political poems, prints some verses of that date which speak of it as such; and William Browne, in 1644, wrote on it:—
"I oft have heard of Lydford law,
How in the morn they hang and draw,
And sit in judgment after:
At first I wondered at it much,
But soon I found the matter such
As it deserves no laughter.
"They have a castle on a hill;
I took it for some old wind-mill,
The vanes blown off by weather.
Than lie therein one night 'tis guessed
'Twere better to be stoned or pressed
Or hanged, ere you come thither."
And so on for sixteen verses.
Below the castle is the water-gate where is the only spring from which Lydford town was supplied