Ancient Monuments

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Guildford Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Holy Trinity, Surrey

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Latitude: 51.2339 / 51°14'2"N

Longitude: -0.5726 / 0°34'21"W

OS Eastings: 499748.669813

OS Northings: 149273.09105

OS Grid: SU997492

Mapcode National: GBR FCK.D24

Mapcode Global: VHFVN.173X

Entry Name: Guildford Castle

Scheduled Date: 1 January 1920

Last Amended: 7 June 1991

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012340

English Heritage Legacy ID: 12787

County: Surrey

Electoral Ward/Division: Holy Trinity

Built-Up Area: Guildford

Traditional County: Surrey

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Surrey

Church of England Parish: Guildford Holy Trinity and St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Guildford


The monument includes an earthen mound (motte) with its moat and surrounding
courtyard (bailey), the upstanding remains of two different keep buildings,
the curtain wall, gateway and the ruined residence within the bailey area.
The earliest castle on the site was a motte and bailey type, with buildings
and defensive palisade of wood. The motte was large, rising 7m above the
surrounding land, and was surrounded by a deep defensive ditch.
Around AD1100 the timber defences were at least partly replaced with stone.
Parts of the near-circular shell keep which encircled the top of the motte
survive, the highest standing to 6m.
The shell keep was short-lived, for by 1173 it had been replaced by the
tower keep building. This keep measures some 14m square and still stands 19m
high. Its fireplaces and ornately carved stonework shows that it was used as
a residence. It was partly rebuilt in the mid-13th century and in the early
17th century the keep was modified, largely using brick.
The ruins of a number of buildings survive in the bailey area, including
some masonry walls 7m high, which belong to apartments built in 1242 for the
Sheriffs of Surrey. A royal palace was built within the castle grounds and
was much used by Henry III. It is considered likely that the arched gateway
and curtain wall date from this phase of building at the castle.
Excluded from the scheduling are the metalling of all roads and paths, all
modern walls, the buildings and service trenches at 1 and 3 Castle Hill,
Quarry Hill House and Eleanor Court, the electricity sub-station, the fixed
lighting equipment and the nearby garden buildings and park buildings. The
ground beneath all these structures is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The castle at Guildford developed over several centuries, originating as a
motte-and-bailey before being remodelled as a shell keep and eventually a
tower keep castle.
Motte castles were 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. Between
the Conquest and the mid 13th century, usually during the 12th century, a
number of motte-and-bailey castles and ringworks were remodelled in stone.
In the case of mottes, the timber palisade surrounding the top of the motte
mound was replaced by a thick stone wall to form a "shell-keep". An
alternative defensive strategy adopted at some sites was to build a castle
in which a massively built and strongly fortified stone tower of several
stories - a "tower keep" - acted both as a residence and the principal
defensive feature.
Norman castles of this type acted as garrison forts during offensive
military operations, as strongholds, and, in many cases, as aristocratic
residences and the centre of local or royal administration. Although over
600 motte castles or motte-and-bailey castles are recorded nationally,
examples converted into shell keeps or tower keeps are far rarer. Guildford
is a particularly unusual survival, having been converted to both a shell
keep and a tower keep, and with elements from each of its constructional
phases extant. The tower keep survives particularly well, retaining a number
of architectural details from its original and rebuilt phases. As such it
provides an important opportunity to study changing ideas in castle
construction from the Conquest onwards. The site is well documented
historically and its significance is enhanced by its well-attested royal

Source: Historic England


Leach, P.E., MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Motte & Bailey Castles, (1988)
Leach, PE, Monument Class Description - Tower keep castles, (1989)
Surrey Ant. 1664,

Source: Historic England

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