Membury Chapel Meadow

Has been described as a Questionable Masonry Castle, and also as a Questionable Fortified Manor House

There are no visible remains

NameMembury Chapel Meadow
Alternative Names
Historic CountryWiltshire
Modern AuthorityWiltshire
1974 AuthorityWiltshire
Civil ParishRamsbury

A roughly rectangular univallate earthwork enclosing 2 acres,about 150 yds south-east of Membury Fort (VCH 1957).

Excavation by Grimes in 1941 revealed within the enclosure a complex of buildings. The earliest resembled in plan a small 12th century keep. Over the ruins of this lay a house of normal plan, perhaps 13th century, with later additions. There was also a chapel. The defences were entirely of earth except that one round tower had been built into the bank. Signs of early Roman occupation were found under the Medieval site (Grimes 1948).

A disused airfield occupies this site and the perimeter track covers the eastern half of the earthwork. It seems unlikely that anything remains (Ordnance Survey SS Reviser June 1965).

The eastern half of the earthwork is overlaid by an airfield perimeter track. The western half, in arable, is so denuded that only amorphous irregularities survive.

The situation, on a plateau with no natural defence suggests a fortified manorial site rather than a 12th century castle (F1 NVQ 12-JUL-72). (PastScape)

In the Middle Ages a castle and a manor house, remains of which have been excavated, stood at Membury south of Membury fort. Their site may have been deserted in the late 13th century. There was a chapel, and possibly a hamlet, at Membury in the Middle Ages.

Jocelin de Bohun, bishop of Salisbury 1142–84, granted land at MEMBURY, presumably part of Ramsbury manor until then, to Everard of Hurst, to whom he may have granted Hilldrop. After Everard's death Bishop Bohun conveyed it to Everard's son Roger. The grant to Roger was confirmed by the king in 1175 and by Bishop Herbert Poore in 1196. Gerard of Membury seems to have held the land in the 1220s and Sir Peter of Membury did so in the 1240s and 1250s when it was rated as 1 knight's fee

Between 1256 and 1262 Peter gave the manor of Membury to Giles of Bridport, bishop of Salisbury, in exchange for a life interest in the bishop's demesne land in Baydon. (VCH 1983)

Gatehouse Comments

Rejected as castle site by Creighton but accepted as fortified manorial site. The location next to the Iron Age hillfort Membury Castle certainly would make this an indefensible site in regard to warfare although Norman V. Quinell's comment regarding natural defences seems weak as a reason to dismiss any castle site. However this lost manor house, with its small C12 tower and C13 round tower (or dovecot) is best described as a fortified manor house.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSU303749
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  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of Wessex (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 96
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 278 (slight)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 502 (possible)
  • Crowley, D.A. (ed), 1983, 'Parishes: Ramsbury' VCH Wiltshire (Oxford: OUP for the Institute of Historical Research) Vol. 12 p. 12-46 online transcription
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 259
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 242
  • Pugh, R.B. and Crittall, Elizabeth (ed), 1957, VCH Wiltshire Vol. 1 Part 1 p. 99, 269


  • Creighton, O.H., 2000, 'Early Castles in the Medieval Landscape of Wiltshire' Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine Vol. 93 p. 116 online copy
  • Grimes, W.F., 1948, in O'Neil, B.T., 'War and Archaeology in Britain' Antiquaries Journal Vol. 28 p. 31, 33