Ilfracombe Town Wall

Has been described as a Questionable Urban Defence

There are no visible remains

NameIlfracombe Town Wall
Alternative NamesIlfredecombe
Historic CountryDevonshire
Modern AuthorityDevon
1974 AuthorityDevon
Civil ParishIlfracombe

C15 Stone walls planned but probably never built or never completed. Single grant of murage in 1418.

Grant to the good men of the town of Ilfredecombe, co. Devon, who have begun to build a new stone tower on either side of the port there and to enclose the town with stone walls and high towers, of murage for one year. (CPR dated 15 July 1418)

Gatehouse Comments

Although murage was not the only way to fund defences one years grant in a small port would not have raised much money. The much larger and more important town of Barnstaple was, at this time, allowing its defences, which dated back to Saxon times, to fall into decay. Although the Devon coast was subject to some pirate raids defense is not the real issue here. The planned walls have the feel of a, ill considered, local initiative to, superficially, gain trade and more likely gain some prestige for a few local men. However, a pier, with a lighthouse tower would have been a positive asset for the port and this may all that was really intended. St Nicholas Chapel, on Lantern Hill (SS 52514788), is a C15 building which is documented as being used as a lighthouse since C16 - was this chapel/lighthouse the real result of this initiative?

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

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 ReferenceSS525478
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  • Salter, Mike, 2013, Medieval Walled Towns (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 157 (slight)
  • Creighton, O.H. and Higham, R.A., 2005, Medieval Town Walls (Stroud: Tempus) p. 257
  • 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
  • Bond, C.J., 1987, 'Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Defences' in Schofield, J. and Leech, R. (eds) Urban Archaeology in Britain (CBA Research Report 61) p. 92-116 online copy
  • Barley, M.W., 1975, 'Town Defences in England and Wales after 1066' in Barley (ed) The plans and topography of medieval towns in England and Wales (CBA Research Report 14) p. 57-71 download/view online
  • Turner, H.L., 1971, Town Defences in England and Wales (London) p. 196


  • Creighton, Oliver, 2006, ''Castles of Communities': Medieval Town Defences in England; Wales and Gascony' Ch√Ęteau Gaillard Vol. 22 p. 75-86

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 191?, Calendar of Patent Rolls Henry V (1416-22) Vol. 2 p. 172 (murage grant) online copy
  • - < >Also see the Gatehouse murage pages for full details of murage [grants >], [petitions > ] and [other such >]. < >