Tonbridge Castle

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

There are major building remains

NameTonbridge Castle
Alternative NamesTunbridge; Tunebrycgia
Historic CountryKent
Modern AuthorityKent
1974 AuthorityKent
Civil ParishTonbridge

Motte and Bailey Castle, first mentioned in 1080. Of the Norman Motte and Bailey the mound, surmounted by a few stones and containing the well, now mostly filled up. This is surrounded by the moat on the north and west sides which connects with the river Medway on the south. Of the C13 curtain wall surrounding the Keep, there survive a portion immediately to the east connecting the mound of the Keep with the Gateway, a small section to the south east of the Council Offices and a long portion on the south fronting the Medway of which the top has been made into a walk in the grounds of the Castle on account of the difference in levels to the north and south of this. Between the first section of the curtain wall mentioned above and the Council Offices is the Gate-house, built in 1230-1260. This is of sandstone ashlar and consists of a large square building with a wide carriage arch through it with 4 circular towers at its angles. High pointed arch with its head recessed in 6 grooves. Within this a lower and less pointed arch with similar head but above the latter a wall almost blocking the space between the heads of the inner and outer arches but leaving a small gap for the lowering of the portcullis with groove below. 3 square holes in the soffit of the inner arch for dropping hot liquid. Embattled parapet above building. Loop lights in flanking towers, and on ground floor of west outer tower an oblique shoot to the dungeons. Within the archway pointed doorways lead to the staircases. The rooms on first floor and hall above this occupy the whole area of the building. The floors have disappeared but the fireplaces remain. On the inner side the gateway is similar but the 2 arches are smaller with another portcullis groove between them and 3 square holes in the soffit of the outer arch. On the first floor above the arch are 3 trefoil-headed lights and on the second floor 2 larger larger pointed windows with the remains of cusping of the tracery

Loop lights in the towers, as on the outer side. (Listed Building Report)

The castle at Tonbridge survives well despite the partial excavation of the motte top in the early 20th century and the adaptation of parts of the castle for Georgian residences. The diversity of features at the castle is high, including for example the architectural details of the gatehouse and the garderobe chutes in the curtain wall in addition to the shell keep. In addition the castle is well documented historically as a place frequented by royalty, which together with good public access and informative displays makes the castle of high amenity value. The monument includes a motte and bailey castle dating from the years soon after the Norman Conquest, as well as the later remains of the curtain wall and the 13th century gatehouse. The principle feature of the earliest castle on the site is the earthen motte, circular in plan and 20m high. At its summit the motte measures 24m by 20m. Around the flattened top a wall was built to form a shell keep. The foundations of a number of buildings which backed onto the shell keep wall and a well were located during excavations in 1912 which resulted in the 7m wide depression visible today. The shell keep wall has been partially rebuilt in recent times to a height of ca.1m. The motte was originally encircled by a moat of some 14m width but this was infilled on the eastern side in the 12th century to ease access to and from the motte. Below the motte and to the east was a bailey, the line of which was consolidated by a tall stone curtain wall added in the 12th century which was in turn strengthened by a now-infilled outer moat on the east and north-east sides and to the south by the river. Inside the bailey the foundations of a number of buildings including a chapel are considered likely to survive. In the later 13th century, the original gatehouse was replaced with another with drum towers flanking a strongly-defended gateway. A wall-walk connected the new gatehouse with the keep. Many architectural details survive in the gatehouse, including sculpted windows and arrowloops. (Scheduling Report)

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 ReferenceTQ589465
Latitude51.1965217590332
Longitude0.273889988660812
Eastings558950
Northings146550
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
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
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
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
Copyright Andrew M Butler and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Andrew M Butler and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Andrew M Butler and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Andrew M Butler and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Andrew M Butler and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Nigel Chadwick and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.

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Books

  • Higham, Robert, 2015, Shell-keeps re-visited: the bailey on the motte? (Castle Studies Group - online publication) online copy
  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 67, 69, 191-3, 201, 205, 252, 413
  • Purton, P.F., 2009, A History of the Early Medieval Siege c. 450-1220 (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press) p. 170
  • Salter, Mike, 2000, The Castles of Kent (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 76-8
  • Thompson, M.W., 1998, Medieval bishops' houses in England and Wales (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing) p. 170
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 130-1
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 235
  • Renn, D.F., 1981, 'Tonbridge and some other gatehouses' in A. Detsicas (ed), Collectanea Historica: Essays in Memory of Stuart Rigold (Kent Archaeological Society) p. 93-103
  • Guy, John, 1980, Kent Castles (Meresborough Books)
  • Smithers, David Waldron, 1980, Castles in Kent (Chatham)
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 307-8
  • Newman, John, 1976, Buildings of England: West Kent and the Weald (Harmondsworth) p. 570-1
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 324
  • Toy, Sidney, 1953, The Castles of Great Britain (Heinemann) p. 58-9, 243-4
  • Armitage, Ella, 1912, The Early Norman Castles of the British Isles (London: John Murray) p. 220-1 online copy
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Gould, I. Chalkley, 1908, in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Kent Vol. 1 p. 424-5 online copy
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 1 p. 47-52 online copy
  • Timbs, J. and Gunn, A., 1872, Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales Vol. 1 (London) p. 301-3 online copy
  • King, Edward, 1782, Observations on Antient Castles (London) p. 93-114
  • Hasted, Edward, 1798 (2edn), The history and topographical survey of the county of Kent Vol. 5 p. 196- online transcription
  • Buck, Samuel and Nathaniel, 1774, Buck's Antiquities (London) Vol. 1 p. 143

Antiquarian

Journals

  • Neil Guy, 2015-16, 'The Portcullis - design and development' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 29 p. 132-201
  • Martin, D. and Martin, B., 2013, ‘A reinterpretation of the gatehouse at Tonbridge Castle’ Archaeologia Cantiana Vol. 133 p. 235-76 online copy
  • Guy, Neil, 2011-12, 'The Rise of the Anti-clockwise Newel Stair' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 25 p. 113-174 online copy
  • Coldstream, N., 2003 'Architects, Advisers and Design at Edward I’s Castles in Wales' Architectural History Vol. 46 p. 19-36
  • Simmons, Sydney, 1998, 'The Lords and Ladies of Tonbridge Castle' Archaeologia Cantiana Vol. 118 p. 45-62 online copy
  • Simmons, Sydney, 1996, 'Tonbridge Castle: Further Observations on an ancient Castle' Archaeologia Cantiana Vol. 116 p. 101-147 online copy
  • Thompson, M.W., 1986, 'Associated monasteries and castles in the Middle Ages: a tentative list' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 143 p. 316
  • Brown, R.Allen, 1984, ‘Castle gates and garden gates’ Architectural History Vol. 27 443-5 (slight)
  • Streeten, A.D.F., 1976, 'Excavations at Lansdowne Road, Tonbridge, 1972 and 1976' Archaeologia Cantiana Vol. 92 p. 105-18 online copy
  • King, D.J.Cathcart, 1972, 'The Field Archaeology of mottes; Eine kurze übersicht' Château Gaillard Vol. 5 p. 101-112
  • 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)
  • Simpson, W.D., 1940, Journal of the British Archaeological Association Vol. 5 p. 63-72
  • 1905, The Archaeological Journal Vol. 62 p. 188 (slight) online copy
  • Wadmore, J.F., 1886, 'Tonbridge Castle and its Lords' Archaeologia Cantiana Vol. 16 p. 12-57 online copy
  • Clark, G.T., 1889, 'Contribution towards a complete list of moated mounds or burhs' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 46 p. 197-217 esp. 206 online copy
  • 1879, 'The fate of Tonbridge Castle' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 36 p. 378-9 online copy
  • (Suckling), 1873, The Antiquary Vol. 3 p. 40-1
  • King, Edward, 1782, 'Sequel to the observations on Ancient Castles' Archaeologia Vol. 6 p. 269-290 (reprinted in Antient Castles)

Guide Books

  • Oliphant, J., 2007, Tonbridge Castle (Tonbridge: Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council)
  • Hilton, J., 1976, Tonbridge Castle: a Short History (Tonbridge Design & Print Service)
  • Verhoeven, J., Tonbridge Castle - a short history and guide

Primary Sources

  • Ingram, James, (ed) 1912, The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (Everyman Press, London) Laud Chronicle AD1088 view online transcription (Ingram's translation and notes date from 1823. More recent translations of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles should be consulted for serious study)
  • Thrope, B., 1849, Florenti Wigorniensis monachi Chronicon ex Chronicis (London) p. 23 online copy see also Forester, T. (ed and trans), 1854, The Chronicle of Florence of Worcester (London: Henry Bohn) p. 188 [online copy > http://archive.org/stream/chronicleofflore00flor#page/188/mode/1up]
  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 277-9
  • The National Archives E36/150 Survey of the lands late of Edward, duke of Buckingham, attainted online details
  • E36/150 (Survey of 1521) (calendared in Brewer, J.S. (ed), 1867, Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, of the Reign of Henry VIII Vol. 3 p. 507-8 No. 1286 online copy)

Other

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