Ightham Court

Has been described as a Rejected Timber Castle (Motte), and also as a Rejected Fortified Manor House

There are earthwork remains

NameIghtham Court
Alternative NamesThe Wilderness
Historic CountryKent
Modern AuthorityKent
1974 AuthorityKent
Civil ParishIghtham

Two large shallow dome-shaped mounds stand within the grounds, and to the N.E. of Ightham Court. "A", at TQ 59545767, is sub-circular in plan, has a maximum height of 2.0 metres, and is enclosed by a ditch, formerly waterfilled but now dry, which is crossed by causeways on the N. and S.W. sides. There is a wide berm except on the S. side. On top of the mound are the remains of a probably 18th century ice house. "B", at TQ 5960 5777, is D-shaped in plan and 1.5 metres in height; it is encircled by a wide berm and a water-filled ditch; on its top is an 18th century summerhouse. Harrison supposed the features to be the site of the earlier house, the present one dating from 1575. But Harris gives a plan of Ightham Court which shows the moated mounds as ornamental features embodied within the formal layout of the grounds. Between them, he shows a rectangular fish pond with two small breeding stew ponds adjoining (probably temp. Elizabeth I and contemporary with the house). These have degenerated into an irregular-shaped pond, centred at TQ 5960 5770. Mound "B" was dug into in the 1920's by Harrison and others, but only late Medieval sherds were found. The mounds, though ornamental features since the early 18th century may not have been constructed as such and are possibly of earlier date. (PastScape ref. F1 ASP 05-OCT-64)

Ightham: The Court. In the piece of woodland known as the Wilderness, on the north of the manor house, are remains of earthworks. The souther is a circular work of about 200ft. diameter, a deep dry fosse surrounding a mount raised some 16ft. above the present level of the fosse, which was originally considerably deeper and filled with water. This earthwork was probably the site of the first manorial hold. To the north-east is a large spring-fed pond, while immediately beyond the latter is a horseshoe-shaped water-girt enclosure of doubtful date and purpose

It may represent a guarded spot for the shelter of stores and cattle in the days of early settlement in the Kentish woodlands, but there is nothing tangible to prove that the work is not due to more modern fancy on the part of an owner of the estate. (PastScape ref. English Heritage Register of parks and gardens of special historic interest in England Kent Part 24)

Gatehouse Comments

Moated house constructed in 1575, with additions carried out in 1800. Earthworks in the grounds may relate to earlier moats or more likely ornamental landscape features. There are also the remains of C18 icehouse and summerhouse. Alleged castle site rejected by King as only a moat, presumably this relates to the earlier moats or garden earthworks which are called 'mounds' on the OS map.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTQ595576
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  • Johnson, Matthew, Sly, Timothy and Willis, Carrie, 2017, 'Ightham: topographical and geophysical survey and 3D analysis of the landscape' in Matthew Johnson (ed.), Lived experience in the later Middle Ages: studies of Bodiam and other elite landscapes in south-eastern England (The Highfield Press) p. 129-142 (other chapters of the book also relevant)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 238 (reject)
  • Harrison, E., 1928, Harrison of Ightham (London : Oxford University Press) p. 3-7
  • Gould, I. Chalkley, 1908, in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Kent Vol. 1 p. 431-2 online copy
  • Hasted, Edward, 1798 (2edn), The history and topographical survey of the county of Kent Vol. 5 p. 33- (manorial history) online transcription
  • Harris, J., 1719, History of Kent Vol. 1 p. 162


  • Kent County Council, December 2004, Kent Historic Towns Survey (Kent County Council and English Heritage) view online copy