Woodhouse Castle, Horningsham

Has been described as a Certain Fortified Manor House

There are masonry footings remains

NameWoodhouse Castle, Horningsham
Alternative NamesWoodhouse Farm
Historic CountryWiltshire
Modern AuthorityWiltshire
1974 AuthorityWiltshire
Civil ParishHorningsham

Woodhouse was the ancient castellated manor house of the Vernuns which came into the possession of the Arundels in the 16th c. The first attack on the house by parliament forces is not recorded but in 1644 it was garrisoned for the Parliamentary forces, besieged and taken by Royalists and the ruined house was never re-inhabited. The number of men hanged after the capitulation is said by Daniell to be 14, but Hoare says '12', mostly clothiers'. Their burial place is a rough tumulus a short distance from the ruins. This is called 'Clothiers' Grave' by Daniell. Hoare mentions that the ground plan of the house may be traced, with foundations and one circular room. M.O.W. record a complex of stone walls visible in 1955.

The late 18th/early 19th c. farmhouse is said by M.H.L.G. to contain old stonework from the 'castle' buildings (Hoare; Daniell; Listing reports)

A levelled area which forms the interior of the house is enclosed on the N.W. and N.E. by a strong bank. Fragmentary ruins consist of cellar walls 2.5m deep and the base of a circular tower-like structure with walling 2.0m thick.

A depression abutting the N.E.bank is described by the O.S. as a moat but is probably a dry fishpond.

'Clothiers' Grave' cannot be located. The present farmhouse may contain re-used material in its rubble walls but nothing of note (F1 ANK 25-AUG-66). (PastScape)

Woodhouse Castle is a remarkably well preserved example of a medieval fortified manor house which, despite collapse, has survived stone robbing and retains many original features. The history of the castle and in particular its siege and destruction, are well documented.

The monument includes Woodhouse Castle, the ruin of a fortified house on the Longleat Estate, situated on a small rise of silty clay slightly to the north of Woodhouse Farm. The fortified area is rectangular, 85m wide and 120m long with the long axis orientated south west to north east

The remains of the castle building survive to the south west, consisting of an area of fallen masonry bounded to the south west and north west by a substantial wall banked with earth up to 3.5m high and 2m thick. Outside the wall to the south west is a large stone ramp which provided access to the front door at first floor level. Adjacent to the ramp, in the centre of the wall is the base of a large round guard tower accessed from the outside by a low doorway 1.5m high. A small opening to the north east leads to the base of a spiral staircase. Along the eastern edge of the castle, where there is no defensive wall standing, internal walls up to 3m high define a series of rooms at ground level, thought to be the cellars of the castle, which include a fireplace and a well. The walls are built of rubblestone faced in places with thin medieval brick. North east of the building a raised rectangular area surrounded by a boundary bank up to 2m high represents the site of the castle garden. A series of square, raised patches divided by paths represent the beds of formal gardens. Beyond this to the north east is a lower enclosed area surrounded by a bank up to 2.5m high which may represent a paddock. During the Civil War, Woodhouse Castle was occupied by Henry Wansey, a Warminster watchmaker and Parliamentarian. It was besieged in 1644 by Sir Francis Doddington, the Royalist Commandant for Wiltshire who breached the walls with two cannons. Eighty Parliamentarians were captured and 12 local clothiers were hanged on the branch of an oak tree and were buried in an unlocated mound known as the 'clothiers grave'. Woodhouse Castle was never rebuilt. (Scheduling Report)

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceST801420
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Creative Commons License
Castle Photographs by D J Steward 2012 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
Creative Commons License
Castle Photographs by D J Steward 2012 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.

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  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of Wessex (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 91
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 499
  • Daniell, J.J., 1876, History of Warminster (London) p. 66-7 online copy
  • Hoare, Richard Colt, 1822, The History of Modern Wiltshire Vol. 1 Part 1 p. 51


  • English Heritage, 2009, Heritage at Risk Register 2009 South West (London: English Heritage) p. 146 online copy
  • Snelgrove, John and Forward, Michael, 200?, The Lost Castle-Woodhouse in Wiltshire (DVD or VHS recording)