Ancient Monuments

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Farnham Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Farnham, Surrey

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Latitude: 51.2188 / 51°13'7"N

Longitude: -0.8023 / 0°48'8"W

OS Eastings: 483740.679141

OS Northings: 147302.430821

OS Grid: SU837473

Mapcode National: GBR DB3.FZC

Mapcode Global: VHDY2.1MPJ

Entry Name: Farnham Castle

Scheduled Date: 27 June 1975

Last Amended: 9 July 1991

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012181

English Heritage Legacy ID: 12848

County: Surrey

Civil Parish: Farnham

Built-Up Area: Farnham

Traditional County: Surrey

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Surrey

Church of England Parish: Farnham

Church of England Diocese: Guildford


The monument includes the keep, bailey, curtain wall and outer ditch of a
castle dating from the 12th century.
Excavations within the keep in 1958-9 revealed much of the castle's
development. It was constructed in 1138 on the orders of Henry of Blois,
Bishop of Winchester. A stone tower, perhaps as much as 35m high and with a
central well shaft, was built first. Its base was then buried with chalk to
form a 10m high mound around the tower. To the south of this original keep
was a triangular arrangement of buildings including kitchens, a chapel and a
hall, all enclosed within a ditch. These buildings, though since modified are
listed Grade I and are excluded from the scheduling.
After 1155, when Henry II had the original keep pulled down, the castle was
rebuilt in the form of a shell keep some 50m in diameter with rooms in the 4
towers. The bailey was enlarged to its present limits, the huge 40m wide
ditch was dug and the curtain wall with its square mural towers and gatehouse
was erected. During the 13th-15th centuries, domestic buildings continued to
be built within the new keep and some 15th century brickwork can be seen
over the entrance. The keep was abandoned after the Civil War and was
finally used as a garden in the Victorian period.
Excluded from the scheduling are the metalling of the roads and car park, any
service trenches, all existing steps erected for display purposes, and the
square well cover within the motte, but the ground beneath is included.
All buildings within the castle grounds except the keep and the medieval parts
of the gatehouse, are excluded from the scheduling although the ground
beneath all of them is included.
Part of the monument is in the Guardianship of the Secretary of State for the

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Motte castles are medieval fortifications introduced into Britain by the
Normans. They comprised a large conical mound of earth or rubble, the motte,
surmounted by a palisade and a stone or timber tower. In a majority of
examples an embanked enclosure containing additional buildings, the bailey,
adjoined the motte. Motte castles and motte-and-bai1ey castles acted as
garrison forts during offensive military operations, as strongholds, and, in
many cases, as aristocratic residences and as centres of local or royal
administration. Built in towns, villages and open countryside, motte castles
generally occupied strategic positions dominating their immediate locality
and, as a result, are the most visually impressive monuments of the early
post-Conquest period surviving in the modern landscape. Over 600 motte castles
and motte-and-bailey castles are recorded nationally, with examples known from
most regions. Some 100-150 examples do not have baileys and are classified as
motte castles. As one of a restricted range of recognised early post-Conquest
monuments, they are particularly important for the study of Norman Britain and
the development of the feudal system. Although many were occupied for only a
short period of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from
the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other
types of castle.

The example at Farnham is a particularly informative one because it
illustrates a late stage in the development of the motte and bailey castle,
with its stone tower built from ground level and then partially buried. It is
also unusual in that the slightly later stone tower or shell keep is built
from ground level rather than at the top of an existing motte, adding to the
known diversity of this type of feature.
Although part of the keep area has been damaged by archaeological excavation,
the resulting level of documentation, both archaeological and historical, is
high. With such a large proportion of the castle unexcavated and undisturbed
by later buildings, the monument is also of high potential, especially in the
light of evidence that a number of archaeological features lie buried within
the bailey area.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Thompson, M W, Excavations In Farnham Castle Keep, (1960)
Leach, P E, Monument Class Description - Motte And Bailey Castles, (1988)
Pagination 81-94, Surrey Arch Collections,

Source: Historic England

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