Ongar Castle

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

There are earthwork remains

NameOngar Castle
Alternative NamesAngra; Angre
Historic CountryEssex
Modern AuthorityEssex
1974 AuthorityEssex
Civil ParishOngar

Norman motte and bailey castle with sub-rectangular village enclosure. It was probably built by Richard de Lucy in C12, (mention is made of the castle in 1157), but the keep was demolished in C16 and replaced by a brick building which in turn was demolished in C18. The plan consists of a flat-topped mount with encircling moat, an inner bailey, a weaker enclosure to the north and east, and the town-enclosure to the west. Fragments of rubble remain on the motte and flanking an axial gap in the bailey bank, some Roman brick being contained in it. (PastScape – Ref. RCHME, 1291; Renn, 1973)

Motte and Bailey with town enclosure. Consists of a motte, c70m in diameter at the base. Surrounded by a wet ditch c12-15m wide and deep. Kidney-shaped, inner bailey to the west and second bailey to the east (see 4104). Town enclosure to the west of the castle. The castle was mentioned in 1157. According to the RCHM the castle is said to have been built by Richard de Lacy in the 12th century but the keep was pulled down in the 16th century and replaced by a brick building, itself destroyed in the 18th century. The motte and bailey are both moated. Entrance from the town enclosure is in the centre of the west side, through a gap in the rampart, on each side of which is a fragment of flint-rubble containing Roman bricks. The masonry does not appear to have extended along the rampart. At the Conquest Chipping Ongar became the head of the Boulogne estates and was a deliberate plantation attached to the castle. There is no exact date for the establishment of either castle or town though the castle is assumed to be late 11th or early 12th century. The castle and town defences were surveyed in 1981, including profiles of the defences, contours of the entrance and elevation of the south wall of the entrance. Large tree-covered motte surrounded by a wide, water-filled moat; bailey to the west intact

High bank runs from the north-west of the bailey around a car park to Ongar High Street; this is part of the town enclosure - the rest has been totally obliterated by the town of Ongar. (Unlocking Essex's Past)

Gatehouse Comments

Grade 2 listed house of C16 date on site. In East England, were soil is often deep and relatively easy to dig and where there was a large medieval population castle earthwork can, as at Ongar, be impressively large.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

This is a Grade 2 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 ReferenceTL554030
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Copyright John Winfield and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.

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  • Creighton, O.H., 2004, ''The Rich Man in his Castle, The Poor Man at His Gate': Castle Baileys and Settlement Patterns in Norman England' Cha^teau Gaillard Vol. 21 p. 25-36
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  • 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)
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  • Clark, G.T., 1889, 'Contribution towards a complete list of moated mounds or burhs' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 46 p. 197-217 esp. 203 online copy

Primary Sources

  • 1846, Chronicon Monasterii de Bello p. 84 online copy (A more recent edition and translation is Searle, Eleanor, 1980, The Chronicle of Battle Abbey (Oxford: Clarendon Press))
  • Stubbs, Wm. (ed), 1867, Gesta Regis Henrici Secundi Benedicti Abbatis; Chronicle of the Reigns of Henry II and Richard I. A.D. 1169-1192 (London: Rolls Series 49) Vol. 1 p. 124 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. 194-5