Hedingham Castle

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Ringwork), and also as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are major building remains

NameHedingham Castle
Alternative NamesHengham; Hedningham; Heningham; Henham; Haingeham; Hingeham
Historic CountryEssex
Modern AuthorityEssex
1974 AuthorityEssex
Civil ParishCastle Hedingham

Hedingham Castle was the main seat of the Earls of Oxford. It is a large earthen ringwork castle with two baileys and was probably built in the late C11/early C12 by Aubrey de Vere who was granted the land by William I during the Norman Conquest. The large central mound was evidently the main focus of the castle, with the smaller, inner, bailey to the east and the larger, outer, bailey to the west. The entrance to the inner bailey is lost, possibly beneath the C18 Hedingham Castle House. The outer bailey quickly went out of use as the town grew. The magnificent and sophisticated keep was built around the middle of C12, at the height of the Anarchy, and may have been constructed to mark the elevation of the de Veres to the earldom of Oxford (an honour granted by Queen Matilda). Other buildings would also have existed, though no sign of these remain today. Around the castle three hunting parks were created; Great Park, Castle Park and Little Park. The 13th Earl of Oxford was instrumental in the accession of Henry VII, and it was he who was responsible for an ambitious building programme at Hedingham at the end of C15, when all of the earlier stone buildings other than the keep and a gatehouse (now gone) were replaced by brick towers and apartment ranges covering most of the castle mound; slight earthworks mark the positions of some of these buildings. The most notable of these was the Great Brick Tower, an ornate 'donjon' overlooking the town of Castle Hedingham; the foundations of the stair turrets of this tower remain. The Tudor bridge (recently restored) and Tennis Court also date to this phase of the history of the castle. The castle was surveyed in 1592 by Israel Armyse, but many of the buildings appear to have been razed to the ground by the early C17, by which time it had ceased to be the seat of the Earls of Oxford

The earthworks at Hedingham Castle were surveyed by the Royal Commission in October and November 1995 following a request from English Heritage. (RCHME, 1995)

Castle Keep circa 1130-1140. Built for Aubrey De Vere and reputedly designed by William De Corbeuil, Archbishop of Canterbury. Of flint rubble faced throughout with Barnack stone. C20 wooden floors and lead roof. Of square plan 58ft x 53ft. Four storeys. The walls have an average thickness at ground floor level of 11ft tapering to 10ft. Height approximately 70ft with two remaing turrets at north west and south east corners with heights varying between approximately 15ft to 25ft. The remains of the north west rectangular fore-building of basement height now of flint rubble formerly stone faced with stone steps approaching the entrance door from south to north. The Castle Keep is situated in the middle of the inner bailey which originally had a curtain wall and wall connected to the outer bailey by a bridge. The Great Hall and other buildings were to the south west, most of which including the bridge were rebuilt C15/C16 and were probably destroyed C17/C18. Some material being re-used circa 1718-19 when the present house was rebuilt in the outer bailey to the north east. The castle ranks among the most important Norman buildings in the country if not northern Europe. (Listed buildings report)

Gatehouse Comments

"The noble C12 tower of Hedingham Castle has been the subject of artists' pencils and antiquaries' pens, but the great fosse and ramparts have seldom, if ever, been depicted or described." (Gould, 1903) Not recorded in King's list of Ringworks of 1966 and not recorded as a timber castle in earlier version of this database (before Jan 2011).

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

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 ReferenceTL787358
Latitude51.9924812316895
Longitude0.601520001888275
Eastings578700
Northings235800
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Copyright Jerzy Kociatkiewicz and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Jerzy Kociatkiewicz and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Jerzy Kociatkiewicz and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Jerzy Kociatkiewicz and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Jerzy Kociatkiewicz and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Jerzy Kociatkiewicz and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Jerzy Kociatkiewicz and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Jerzy Kociatkiewicz and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Jerzy Kociatkiewicz and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved

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Books

  • Dixon, Philip, 2015, 'Steps to Lordship' in T.A. Heslop and Helen E. Lunnon (eds), Norwich Medieval and Early Modern Art, Architecture and Archaeology (The British Archaeological Association Conference Transactions 38) p. 118-134
  • Osbourne, Mike, 2013, Defending Essex (Stroud: The History Press) p. 26-27
  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) passim
  • Liddiard, Robert, 2005, 'The Castle Landscape of Anglo-Norman East Anglia: A Regional Perspective' in Harper-Bill, C. (ed), Medieval East Anglia (Woodbridge, Boydell) p. 33-51
  • Neville, David, 2003, Lost Castles of Essex (Ian Henry) p. 44-59
  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles of East Anglia (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 33-6
  • Fernie, E., 2000, 'Castles, Halls, and Chamber Blocks' in The Architecture of Norman England (Oxford University Press) p. 49-88 esp 80-2
  • Emery, Anthony, 2000, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 2 East Anglia, Central England and Wales (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 113
  • RCHME, 1995, Hedingham Castle - An Archaeological Survey by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England (RCHME)
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 73-4
  • Anderson, Verily et al, 1993, The De Veres of Castle Hedingham (Terence Dalton)
  • Andrews, D., 1992, 'Castle Hedingham' in N. Pounds (ed), The Colchester Area: Proceedings of the 139th Summer Meeting of the Royal Archaeological Institute, 1992 (London)
  • Brown, R.Allen, 1989, Castles from the Air (Cambridge University Press) p. 77-79
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 145
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 240-1
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 202-204
  • Pevsner, N., 1965, Buildings of England: Essex (London, Penguin, 2edn. revised by E. Radcliffe) p. 110-111
  • Tipping, H.A., 1921, English Homes, period 1 Vol. 1 (London) p. 1-12
  • RCHME, 1916, An inventory of the historical monuments in Essex Vol. 1 (north-west) p. 51-57 no. 3 online transcription
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co) p. 73-7
  • Gotch, J.Alfred, 1909, The Growth of the English House: a short History of its architectural development from 1100-1800 (London) p. 7-13
  • Majendie, 1904, Some Account of the Family of De Vere (London) p. 73-97 (an enlarged edition of a book dated c. 1897, which may not have had the same title)
  • Gould, Chalkley, 1903, 'Ancient Earthworks' in Doubleday, Arthur and Page, Wm (eds), VCH Essex Vol. 1 p. 294-5 online copy
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1897, Castles of England Vol. 1 p. 261-5 online copy
  • Timbs, J. and Gunn, A., 1872, Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales Vol. 1 (London) p. 229-30 online copy
  • Morant, 1868, History and Antiquities of County of Essex (London) Vol. 2 p. 291-6
  • Britton, John, 1835, The Architectural Antiquities of Great Britain (London) Vol. 3 p. 35-8
  • Majendie, 1796, Vetusta Monumenta Vol. 3 appendix
  • Strutt, Joseph, 1774, Horda Angel-cynnan (London) Vol. 1 plate xxix
  • Buck, Samuel and Nathaniel, 1774, Buck's Antiquities (London) Vol. 1 p. 93

Antiquarian

  • 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. 447 (Called Henham and mislocated in Suffolk)
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1908, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 2 p. 25 online copy
  • I Armyse, 1592, A Survey of Castle Hedingham (Essex Record Office Ref: D/DMh M1)

Journals

  • Neil Guy, 2015-16, 'The Portcullis - design and development' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 29 p. 132-201
  • Guy, Neil, et al, 2011-12, 'CSG Annual Conference April 2011' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 25 p. 19-28
  • Liddiard, Robert and Wells, Fiona, 2008, 'The Little Park at Castle Hedingham, Essex: a possible late medieval pleasure ground'. Garden History Vol. 36.1 p. 85-93
  • Mesqui, Jean, Renn, Derek and Smals Laurens, 2008, ''The Portcullis in Medieval Great Towers: An Impression' Château Gaillard Vol. 23 p. 289-95
  • Liddiard, Robert, 2006, 'Early castles in the Medieval Landscape of East Anglia' Château Gaillard Vol. 22 p. 243-50
  • Quiney, Anthony, 1999, 'Hall or Chamber? That Is the Question. The Use of Rooms in Post-Conquest Houses' Architectural History Vol. 42 p. 24-46
  • < >Dixon, P. and Marshall P., 1993 Aug, 'The Great Tower at Hedingham Castle: A Reassessment' Fortress: The castles and fortifications quarterly Vol. 18 p. 23-42 (Reprinted in Liddiard, R. (ed), 2003, Anglo-Norman Castles (Woodbridge)) < >
  • Thompson, M.W., 1992 Nov, 'A suggested dual origin for keeps'' Fortress: The castles and fortifications quarterly Vol. 15 p. 3-15
  • Thompson, M.W., 1986, 'Associated monasteries and castles in the Middle Ages: a tentative list' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 143 p. 312
  • Brown, R. Allen, 1959, 'A List of Castles, 1154–1216' English Historical Review Vol. 74 p. 249-280 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 90-121) view online copy (subscription required)
  • Faulkner, P.A., 1958, 'Domestic Planning from the Twelfth to the Fourteenth Centuries' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 115 p. 150-83 online copy
  • Johnston, 1920, Country Life , Vol. 48 p. 336-43, 372-9
  • St John Hope, W.H., 1907, The Archaeological Journal Vol. 64 p. 178-82 (plan) online copy
  • Parker, J.H., 1869, 'Report of a lecture on Hedingham Castle' Essex Archaeological Society Transactions Vol. 4 p. 235-9 (slight) online copy
  • Majendie, L.A.,1869, 'On the plan of Hedingham Castle, as disclosed by recent excavations, and compared with a survey made in 1592' Essex Archaeological Society Transactions Vol. 4 p. 240-43 online copy
  • Majendie, L.A.,1858, 'Notes on Hedingham Castle, and the family of De Vere, Earls of Oxford' Essex Archaeological Society Transactions Vol. 1 p. 75-80 online copy
  • 1853, The Gentleman's Magazine Part 1 p. 598-600 (survey of 1592) online copy

Guide Books

  • Anon, 1989, Hedingham Castle (Derby: English Life Publications)
  • Brown, M., 1995, Hedingham Castle, Castle Hedingham, Essex (Cambridge)
  • Majendie, Musette, n.d., Some account of Hedingham Castle in Essex (Halstead: W.H.Root)

Primary Sources

  • Luard, H.R. (ed), 1874, Matthæi Parisiensis: Monachi Santi Albani, Chronica Majora (Rolls Series 57) Vol. 2 p. 188 online copy
  • Stubbs, W. (ed), 1880, The Minor Works comprising the Gesta regum with its continuation, the Actus pontificum, and the Mappa mundi, by Gervase, the Monk of Canterbury (London: Longman Rolls series 73) Vol. 2 p. 425 online copy
  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 194

Other

  • Ryder, Charles, 2011, The spiral stair or vice: Its origins, role and meaning in medieval stone castles (PhD Thesis University of Liverpool) p. 166-70 Download via
  • 1999, Castle Hedingham Historic Town Assessment Report (Essex County Council) Download copy