Tiverton Castle

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Other/Unknown), and also as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are major building remains

NameTiverton Castle
Alternative Names
Historic CountryDevonshire
Modern AuthorityDevon
1974 AuthorityDevon
Civil ParishTiverton

Tiverton Castle was founded about the beginning of C12 by Richard de Redvers who was created first Earl of Devon, and granted the lordship of Tiverton, for assisting Henry I against the king's brother Robert, in the war in Normandy which ended in 1106. (This year is usually given as that of the foundation of the castle). No part of the existing remains is earlier than the early C14. The castle has been of almost quadrangular plan enclosing about an acre, with a round tower at each corner except the southwest where a square one stands. A large square tower on the east side contained the main gateway and a square tower or bastion stood opposite it at the centre of the west wall. The east and south fronts were protected by moats and the north probably by defensive outworks some of which remain. Little of the northeast tower can now be seen due to the erection of a modern house here. The lower part of the west wall now forms a garden terrace walk and in its central bastion a shaft within its southeast corner descends to a large chamber with blocked passages, possibly part of a drainage system. The south wing of the buildings on the east front appear to be intact despite modern additions but the north wing, beyond the gateway, is a mere fragment. The range of buildings on the south side is now broken by a gap at the west end and by relatively recent buildings beside the south-east angle tower, probably replacing the south gateway and drawbridge known to have been opposite the Courtenay Chapel of St Peter's Church. In the wall of the upper storey are two windows in Decorated Style with a lancet window between them, and inside the remains of a piscina, probably mark the chapel, but the private chapel of the castle is commonly believed to have been the upper chamber of the southwest turret. The present house, which incorporates the late C14 vaulted inner gate hall, was built in the castle bailey about 1583 and gradually enlarged at subsequent periods

The castle was taken and slighted in 1645 by Parliamentary troops under Sir Thomas Fairfax. (PastScape)

Survey and analysis of the gatehouse in the E. range ofthe castle was made by S. R. Blaylock of Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit for A. K. Gordon and English Heritage. The E. range, constructed in the early 14th century along with most of the other surviving structures, contained a gate passage roofed with a ribbed vault of two rectangular bays. The gatehouse was extended to the E. in the late 15th century by the addition of a projecting structure of three storeys. The ground floor of the extension accommodated an entrance passage with a quadripartite ribbed vault. Removal of plaster in the first-floor room of the 15th-century tower enabled the masonry to be inspected and remains of several periods to be identified. A window in the E. wall of the first-floor room ofthe 14th-century building, above the apex ofthe gateway, was identified. Most ofthe fabric of the first period was removed on the construction of the 15th-century tower. The first-floor tower room was furnished with a fireplace in the S. wall and a garderobe accommodated in a projecting stack in the SW. angle, against the earlier E. range. In the N. angle a newel stair, also in a projecting structure, gave access to the second-floor room (removed in the ?mid 19th century) and to the roof.

Further modifications took place in the early 16th century, probably during the period when Katherine Courtenay (d. 1527), daughter of Edward IV , was resident in the castle. Large three-light mullioned windows were inserted into the E. and S. walls of the first and second floors of the tower and the rooms of the earlier E. range. Carved label stops, of similar style to additions to St Peter's Church by John Greenway (c. 1517), provide dating evidence for those alterations. (Med. Arch. 1989)

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 2 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSS954129
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Copyright James Harry Taylor and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.View full Sized Image
Copyright James Harry Taylor and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.View full Sized Image
Copyright James Harry Taylor and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.View full Sized Image
Copyright James Harry Taylor and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.View full Sized Image
Copyright James Harry Taylor and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.View full Sized Image

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  • Higham, R.A., 2009, 'Devon Castle Studies. A Personal Reflection. Devon Archaeological Society Presidential Lecture 2009' Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society Vol. 67 p. 1-22
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  • Hughes, G.W.G., 1952, 'Proceedings at the Annual Meeting.' Transactions of the Devonshire Association Vol. 84 p. 229
  • Chalk, E.S., 1927, 'A Brief Account of the Remains of Tiverton Castle' Journal of the British Archaeological Association Vol. 33 p. 97-8
  • 1913, The Archaeological Journal Vol. 70 p. 535-6
  • T(ipping), 1908, Country Life Vol. 23 p. 486-92
  • Anon, 1900, 'Tiverton Castle' Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society Vol. 46 p. 47 (slight) online copy
  • Clark, G.T., 1889, 'Contribution towards a complete list of moated mounds or burhs' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 46 p. 197-217 esp. 203 online copy
  • Paterson, G.A., 1862, 'on Tiverton Castle' Journal of the British Archaeological Association Vol. 18 p. 237-46 online copy

Primary Sources

  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 177


  • Laithwaite, M., 1987, Report on the Tiverton Castle Project 1987
  • Higham, R.A., 1979, The Castles of Medieval Devon (University of Exeter PhD Thesis) Downloadable from EThOS