Gidleigh Castle

Has been described as a Possible Masonry Castle, and also as a Possible Fortified Manor House

There are major building remains

NameGidleigh Castle
Alternative NamesGidley
Historic CountryDevonshire
Modern AuthorityDevon
1974 AuthorityDevon
Civil ParishGidleigh

Keep tower, the only standing remains of a castle built circa 1300 by the Prouze family. Granite stone rubble laid to rough courses with open putlog holes and large roughly-shaped quoins, ashlar detail of hard sandy magnesium limestone. Plan: square in plan there is an undercroft and first floor hall. It is built on a slope facing downhill to the east-south-east, say east. Entrance on left (south) side and stairs in the thickness of the wall round the south-west corner. Second stair, a stone newel, projecting forward from left end of font. Disused fireplace serving the hall in centre of front wall. The hall is no longer roofed and the newel stair turret has partly collapsed. Exterior: 2-window front to right of the stair turret; narrow slit windows with deep internal splays and with relieving arches over, the right first floor one has some of its ashlar window frame still in situ. A buttress projects square in the centre of the wall. Left side has a segmental pointed (almost triangular-headed) arch doorway, and the right side has a plain doorway at first floor level towards the back. Interior: the undercroft has a vaulted roof supported on square ribs. The doorways from both stairs to the hall have chamfered surrounds with bar-broach stops. The fireplace has been much rebuilt. The floor shows the bases of columns which presumably supported a corbelled hood. The construction and detail of this building are remarkably similar to the contemporary phase of Okehampton Castle. (Listed Building Report)

Gidleigh Castle. Fortified manor house. Keep cellar 6.6 metres long, 3.9 metres wide; solar 6.8 metres long, 4.1 metres wide; walls 1.9 metres thick. Only tiny keep remains. Late 13th-14th century. Stone from same quarry as used at Okehampton - sandy magnesium limestone. Same mason probably built both. Keep consists of cellar and solar. Low pitch roof, probably lead covered. Cellar has pointed vault supported by three arched ribs

One small window in the north end of the east wall. Entrance door on the south. Narrow stair way in thickness of the wall leads to the solar, lit by narrow slit window in south wall and wider window in the west wall opposite solar door. Solar door is square-headed, with chamfered lintel and jambs. Another entrance to solar by a stone newel staircase in a turret on the east side, which formerly extended to the roof. Lit by slit windows, one cruciform. Solar has fire- place with arched head and corbels, possibly for a hood. Windows in east and south walls. North wall abutted on to other apartments, slight traces remain. It contains a doorway, 0.61 metres wide, jambs and lintel chamfered. Doors have sockets in the stonework for bolts and recesses and sockets for wooden bars. Masonry of round waterworn stone and small boulders. Foundations undercut by modern construction. Turret stairway ruined, walls cracked, entrance arch has fallen, stair newel collapsed, east wall partly fallen, one of two buttresses remain (Amery and Worth 1925).

Erected in 1316 by Sir William Prowse. Present ruins show no trace of an earlier castle. Many details identical with Okehampton Castle (Hughes).

First floor hall-house with thick walls. Probably circa 1300 (Higham 1979).

A survey of the structure was carried out in 1991 by EMAFU in advance of consolidation work. There was originally a two cell stone structure here of which only the S part remains standing. This is a rectangular structure 10.6 x 8m externally, with walls up to 2m thick, the vaulted undercroft has its own entrance and an intramural staircase connects it to the room (possibly the hall) above. The external stair turret provided the principal access to the first floor room, which has a fireplace, 2 windows and door to the now missing N cell. The northern cell was 7.9 x 5.5m and was perhaps a solar. Construction date probably 1278-1316, repairs and alterations were carried out between 1925 and 1965 (Blaylock). (Devon and Dartmoor HER)

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 1 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 ReferenceSX670884
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Copyright Helene Gidley All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Copyright Helene Gidley All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Copyright Helene Gidley All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image

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  • Emery, Anthony, 2006, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 3 Southern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 565-6
  • Grumley-Grennan, T. and Hardy, M., 2000, Gidliegh: A Dartmoor Village Past and Present (Gidleigh: Glebe Publishing)
  • Higham, Robert A., 1999, 'Castles, Fortified Houses and Fortified Towns in the Middle Ages' in Kain, R. and Ravenhill, W., Historical Atlas of South-West England (University of Exeter Press) p. 136-43
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  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 58-9
  • Pevsner, Nikolaus and Cherry, Bridget, 1989, Buildings of England: Devon (Harmondsworth) p. 456
  • Mildren, James, 1987, Castles of Devon (Bossiney Books) p. 30-33
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 116
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  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 2 p. 32 online copy
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 354 online copy
  • Lysons, D. and S., 1822, Magna Britannia Vol. 6 Devon p. cccxlv-cccxlviii online transcription


  • Bradley, J and Gaimster, M. (eds), 2004, 'Medieval Britain and Ireland in 2003' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 48 p. 254 download copy
  • (Blaylock, S.R.), 1992, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 37 p. 255-7 download copy
  • Higham, R.A., 1988, 'Devon Castles: an annotated list' Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society Vol. 46 p. 142-9
  • Hughes, G.W.G., 1947, 'Gidleigh' Transactions of the Devonshire Association Vol. 79 p. 102
  • Amery, J.S., and Worth, R.H., 1925, 'Gidleigh Castle' Transactions of the Devonshire Association Vol. 57 p. 267-271


  • Blaylock, S.R., 1992, Gidleigh Castle: A survey of the Standing Remains (Exeter Museum Archaeology Field Unit)
  • Higham, R.A., 1979, The Castles of Medieval Devon (University of Exeter PhD Thesis) Downloadable from EThOS