Winkleigh Court Castle

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameWinkleigh Court Castle
Alternative Names
Historic CountryDevonshire
Modern AuthorityDevon
1974 AuthorityDevon
Civil ParishWinkleigh

A medieval motte and bailey situated at the eastern edge of the village of Winkleigh. The monument survives as an oval-shaped, flat-topped motte with a rectangular mound on its north eastern corner, a ditch which is well defined to the north and west of the motte, but which survives as a buried feature elsewhere, and a D-shaped bailey which has been incorporated into the gardens of the nearby Winkleigh Court. The motte measures 92 metres long from north to south and 67 metres wide at its base. It ranges in height from 1.8 metres on the north western side to 10.1 metres on the south eastern side. The flattened top of the mound measures 62 metres long from north to south and 45.2 metres wide from east to west. In the north eastern quadrant there is a rectangular mound which may represent the original height of the motte. This measures 21.5 metres long from east to west, 16 metres wide from north to south at its base and is 2.2 metres high. The ditch surrounding the mound is evident to the north and east, where it measures up to 15 metres wide and 1.7 metres deep, with a 2 metre wide flat bottom. The motte and bailey once formed part of extensive formal gardens attached to Winkleigh Court. During the 18th century a brick-built banqueting house was erected on the summit of the motte. The motte and bailey are thought to date to the late 11th or early 12th centuries, when William II passed the land to Robert Fitz Roy, later the Earl of Gloucester. (PastScape)

Despite limited damage to the bailey in particular, Court Castle survives well and contains archaeological information relating to Norman military activity in this part of Devon. The monument also forms a notable landscape feature within the village of Winkleigh

The proximity of this castle to another in the village is an unusual feature.

The monument includes a medieval motte and bailey castle situated at the eastern end of the village of Winkleigh on a ridge overlooking the valley of the Bullow Brook to the south. The monument is one of two earthwork castles in the village. The second, Croft Castle, lies to the west and is the subject of a separate scheduling. The monument survives as an oval-shaped, flat-topped motte with a rectangular mound on its north eastern corner, a ditch which is well defined to the north and west of the motte, but which survives as a buried feature elsewhere, and a D-shaped bailey which has been incorporated into the gardens of the nearby Winkleigh Court. The motte, which is oval in shape, measures 92m long from north to south and 67m wide from east to west at its base. It ranges in height from 1.8m on the north western side to 10.1m on the south eastern side. The flattened top of the mound measures 62m long from north to south and 45.2m wide from east to west. In the north eastern quadrant there is a rectangular mound which may represent the original height of the motte. This measures 21.5m long from east to west, 16m wide from north to south at its base and is 2.2m high. The ditch surrounding the mound is evident to the north and east, where it measures up to 15m wide and 1.7m deep, with a 2m wide flat bottom. The layout of the road to the south of the motte follows the original line of the ditch, but does not cut it. On the eastern side of the motte the B3220 runs from north to south and crosses the ditch and part of the bailey. However, the road surface does not cut into the ditch, or those parts of the bailey which are effected by it. The motte and bailey once formed part of extensive formal gardens attached to Winkleigh Court. During the 18th century a brick-built banqueting house was erected on the summit of the motte. This is located in the centre of the mound and is square in plan externally, measuring 5.9m across and 6m high. The walls are 0.65m thick. The bailey lies to the south east of the mound. It is partly overlain by the B3220 and its verges and has become fossilised within the layout of the formal gardens of Winkleigh Court. A D-shaped level area measuring 50m long from north to south and 44.3m wide from east to west, defined by a scarp of up to 1.6m high, lies directly to the south of the present 18th century house. Further remains of the bailey, possibly up to half, now lie beneath the present house. A drive which gives access to the property may overlie the original line of the outer ditch surrounding the bailey. The motte and bailey are thought to date to the late 11th or early 12th centuries, when William II passed the land to Robert Fitz Roy, later the Earl of Gloucester. The area was held by Matilda during the Civil War. During the 12th century the manor was split. Court Castle became the property of the Keynes family until the 16th century. The manor was sold in 1550 to George Escott of Chawleigh, passed to George Broughton of Studley, and in 1638 was sold to Thomas Lethbridge of Jacobstowe. During this period the present house at Winkleigh Court and the banqueting tower were erected. Winkleigh Court remained with the Lethbridge family until 1821, when it was sold to Reverend George Johnson. (Scheduling Report)

At the northbend end of Winkleigh village, bisected by a road following the course of the motte ditch on the bailey side. A flat-topped motte, 5 metres high and circa 60 metres by 45 metres in surface area. The ditch survives to the north and is 3 metres deep. The top of the motte has been landscaped and also the defences of the former bailey which is itself occupied by Winkleigh Court house. Probably founded in the early 12th century, although not impossibly during the Civil War (1130's and 1140's): its proximity to Croft Castle may reflect local antagonism in the 13th century. It was in a different manor from Croft Castle. (Higham 1979)

Gatehouse Comments

Renn, writing in 1959 when military views of castles were at their height, saw Croft Castle as a siege work to Court Castle. May well be late C11 in date.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSS633082
Latitude50.8573112487793
Longitude-3.94355010986328
Eastings263320
Northings108220
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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Books

  • 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. 86
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 120
  • Hoskins, W.G., 1954, A New Survey of England: Devon (London: Collins) p. 516
  • Wall, C., 1906, in Page, Wm (ed), 'Ancient Earthworks' VCH Devon Vol. 1 p. 613, 615

Journals

  • Higham, R.A., 1988, 'Devon Castles: an annotated list' Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society Vol. 46 p. 142-9
  • Higham, R.A., 1982, 'Early Castles in Devon' Ch√Ęteau Gaillard Vol. 9-10 p. 101-116
  • Renn, D.F., 1959, 'Mottes: a classification' Antiquity Vol. 33 p. 106-12

Other