Beauchamp Castle, Stoke Sub Hamdon

Has been described as a Possible Fortified Manor House

There are no visible remains

NameBeauchamp Castle, Stoke Sub Hamdon
Alternative NamesStoke under Ham; Stoke under Hampden; Gournay Castle
Historic CountrySomerset
Modern AuthoritySomerset
1974 AuthoritySomerset
Civil ParishStoke Sub Hamdon

A mansion known as BEAUCHAMP Castle, Gournay House and Gournay Castle, was built at Stoke sub Hamdon by Lord John de Beauchamp in the reign of Edward I (died 1284). In 1304 the second Lord John founded a Chantry House (see ST 41 NE 24) for the residence of a Provost and four priests to say mass in the free chapel of St. Nicholas situated nearby. In 1334 licence was granted to embattle and fortify the mansion. There is some controversy regarding the site of this castle, some suggesting Chantry House on the top of the hill as the site. The writer refers to Leylands visit to Stoke in 1540, when he spoke of the ruins of a castle 'in the bottom hard by the village', and a very old chapel in the Manor Place - which suggests this site. A somewhat irregular rectangle which the writer suggests is Manor Place, has the remains of an old wall surrounding it, with gateways in the S. and E. walls. There are the remains of an old gatehouse in the S.W. corner, where a 16th C. house is built over an older building, perhaps 14th or 13th C. date. On the west and north of the Manor precincts are the remains of two fish ponds, known as the Castle fishponds, with foundations of a boundary wall extending eastwards from the north-east extremity of the east pond. South of the ponds is the site of St. Nicholas Chapel, on which finds of encaustic tiles bearing heraldic arms have been made (W.W. Walter). In Sept. 1906 excavations revealed the site of the Manor House itself in what is now a builders yard. In the south east quadrant of the precincts, a compact flooring of Ham stone rubble, overlain by stone tile fragments, and substantial wall foundations were found. Other finds included medieval glazed pottery, and a fragment of a knife. (R.H. Walter; Keats-Rohan) There are no extant remains of the fortified manor house but the O.S. siting within the walled enclosure would seem to be correct. The two gateways can still be seen in the wall but there is no gatehouse. (A 16th C

cottage may have been thought by Walter to be the gatehouse). The fishpond complex to the NW would seem to consist of large reservoir which supplied three small fish ponds (Field Investigators Comments–F1 JP 13-JAN-67). Trail excavation carried out by CRAAGS in 1976 in advance of development, over an area of about 180 sq metres in the area ST 476177. Various features were found including 14th century wall foundations and probable foundations of a documented circular dovecote; but this was probably only an area of yards, enclosures and outhouses associated with the fortified manor house, which itself may lie under the adjacent farm (Aston; Leech). (Somerset HER)

Gatehouse Comments

Mentioned by Leland in 1540 as 'very notable ruins of a great manor place or castle'. King rejects this house as fortified.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceST476177
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  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of Wessex (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 83
  • Dunning, Robert, 1995, Somerset Castles (Somerset Books) p. 66
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 446 (reject)
  • Leech, R.H., 1977, Stoke sub Hamdon Castle' in Archaeological Excavations 1976 (HMSO) p. 146
  • Dunning, R.W. (ed), 1974, VCH Somerset Vol. 3 p. 237, 238, 239 and 248 online transcription
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 410 online copy


  • Camden, Wm, 1607, Britannia hypertext critical edition by Dana F. Sutton (2004)
  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 420, 427
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1907, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 1 p. 158 online copy ; Vol. 5 p. 84-5 [online copy >]


  • Thompson, M.W., 1986, 'Associated monasteries and castles in the Middle Ages: a tentative list' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 143 p. 319
  • Leach, P.J., 1980, 'Excavations at Stoke sub Hamdon Castle, Somerset, 1976' Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Vol. 124 p. 61-76
  • Aston, M., 1977 'Somerset Archaeology 1976' Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Vol. 121 p. 116
  • Webster, L.E. and Cherry, J., 1977, 'Medieval Britain in 1976' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 21 p. 238 download copy
  • Walter, H.R., 1906 'The Beauchamp Manor Place or castle at Stoke-sub-Hamdon' Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Vol. 52 p. 162-3
  • Walter, W.W., 1889 'The Beauchamp Castle and Free Chapel at Stoke-under-Ham' Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Vol. 35 p. 127-37 online copy (not well scanned)

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1893, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward III (1330-34) Vol. 2 p. 494 online copy


  • Leach, P.J., 1976 Excavations at Stoke sub Hamdon Castle (interim) (Somerset County Planning Department)