Hemyock Castle

Has been described as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameHemyock Castle
Alternative NamesHemiok
Historic CountryDevonshire
Modern AuthorityDevon
1974 AuthorityDevon
Civil ParishHemyock

Ruined castle gatehouse and curtain walls. Circa 1380: in this year Sir William Asthorpe was licensed to erect a 'wall of stone and lime'. There was already a structure of some sort on this site, referred to in a C13 document as a 'court'; the early work on the gatehouse (see below) may date from this period. Random chert rubble. The curtain wall enclosed a roughly rectangular site; the principal remains are the circular towers flanking the main (east) entrance, and a corner tower at the north-east angle. There are remains of 4 other circular mural towers and stretches of curtain wall. No dressed stone or detailing survive, and it is not clear where the entrances to the towers were originally; clearly they were not at ground level. To the rear of the gatehouse towers is a vertical masonry joint probably indicating that part of the structure ante-dates the 1380s work. Besieged in 1642 when it was garrisoned by Parliamentarians but probably demolished circa1660. The remains of the gatehouse, walls and towers survive. The moat is well defined, from 1 to 2.5m deep around the southern and western sides, and from 0.7 to 1.2m deep on the northern side. Historical note: Sir William Asthorpe was a courtier, and appointed by Richard II as Sheriff of Devon in the 1380s in the face of considerable local hostility; he had married into the Dynham family, a connection that led to protracted family litigation in the Court of Chivalry; after his year in office as Sheriff, about a dozen cases of embezzlement and other corrupt practices were brought against him by numerous members of the local nobility. He was temporarily imprisoned in The Fleet prison, but pardoned by Richard II. His vulnerability probably explains in part the erection of the castle, but it was doubtless also intended to impress the local gentry. (Listed Building Report)

Principal remains are the circular flanking towers which flank the east entrance, and the one at the north east angle

Parts of the four other mural towers and curtain wall survive. No indication of the layout of the medieval buildings; the surviving fabric is rubble with no details visible. Sherwin's plan assumes a single tower on the west opposite the gatehouse, but recent work by Cambell suggests there were two towers on this side with the wall swinging outwards to follow the pattern of the moat. The 1380 licence to crenellate allowed for the building of a 'wall of stone and lime'. There is a 13th century reference to a 'court'. (Devon and Dartmoor HER ref. Higham 1979)

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 ReferenceST135132
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  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 321
  • Emery, Anthony, 2006, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 3 Southern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 577
  • 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
  • Salter, Mike, 1999, The Castles of Devon and Cornwall (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 66
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 59
  • Sheppard, M., 1993, Hemyock Castle
  • Pevsner, Nikolaus and Cherry, Bridget, 1989, Buildings of England: Devon (Harmondsworth) p. 178
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 116
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Wall, C., 1906, in Page, Wm (ed), 'Ancient Earthworks' VCH Devon Vol. 1 p. 623
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 2 p. 32-3 online copy
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 355, 418 online copy
  • Lysons, D. and S., 1822, Magna Britannia Vol. 6 Devon p. cccxlv-cccxlviii online transcription


  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 125
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1909, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (Bell and Sons; London) Vol. 4 p. 74 online copy


  • Blaylock, S.R., Medieval Archaeology Vol 36 p. 212-15 (plan) download copy
  • Higham, R.A., 1988, 'Devon Castles: an annotated list' Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society Vol. 46 p. 142-9
  • Sherwin, C., 1929, 'Hemyock Castle' Transactions of the Exeter Diocesan Architectural Society (ser3) Vol. 4 p. 47-53
  • Sherwin, C., 1928-9, 'Hemyock Castle' Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries Vol. 15 p. 206-7
  • Joce, T.J., 1928-9, 'Hemyock Castle' Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries Vol. 15 p. 182-3, 218

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1895, Calendar of Patent Rolls Richard II (1377-81) Vol. 1 p. 552 online copy


  • Martin, L., 1999, Hemyock Castle, Hemyock, Devon. Report on geophysical survey, February 1999 (Ancient Monuments Laboratory report 14/99) online copy
  • Blaylock, S.R., 1989, An Archaeological survey of Hemyock Castle Exeter Museum Archaeological Field Unit, Report 89.03.
  • Higham, R.A., 1979, The Castles of Medieval Devon (University of Exeter PhD Thesis) Downloadable from EThOS