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Hadleigh Castle: an enclosure castle and an associated dam and mill

A Scheduled Monument in St James, Essex

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Latitude: 51.5445 / 51°32'40"N

Longitude: 0.6091 / 0°36'32"E

OS Eastings: 581013.824732

OS Northings: 186074.079088

OS Grid: TQ810860

Mapcode National: GBR QPC.4SR

Mapcode Global: VHJL3.HFVT

Entry Name: Hadleigh Castle: an enclosure castle and an associated dam and mill

Scheduled Date: 13 January 1915

Last Amended: 20 March 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014795

English Heritage Legacy ID: 26306

County: Essex

Electoral Ward/Division: St James

Traditional County: Essex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Essex

Church of England Parish: Hadleigh St James the Less

Church of England Diocese: Chelmsford


The monument is situated on high ground overlooking the Thames estuary c.200m
south west of Home Farm Colony. It includes the buried, earthwork and ruined
remains of a 13th century enclosure castle, and an associated dam and
watermill situated on the valley floor 100m north of the castle and protected
in a separate area. Hadleigh Castle is a displayed monument in the care of the
Secretary of State and is a Grade I Listed Building. It is known from
historical sources that the Manor of Hadleigh was granted by Henry III to
Hubert de Burgh, Earl of Kent, in 1227. The castle, built soon afterwards, was
requisitioned by the crown in 1239 and remained a royal property until 1378,
having undergone major modifications by order of Edward III in the 1360s.
The castle site (the larger area) occupies a defensive position on a spur,
with the ground falling away steeply to the south and north east. To the south
east the ridge has been cut away to form a low irregular-shaped platform
extending c.30m from the castle. Though the exact purpose of this earthwork is
unknown it would have greatly helped in accentuating the steepness of the
natural slope to the south and the east.

The majority of the standing masonry on the site dates from the first phase of
the castle's construction and includes a polygonal bailey surrounded by a
curtain wall. To the east, west and north a low wall survives marking the
perimeter of the bailey although, due to a landslip, the southern perimeter
has been reduced to large blocks of displaced rubble situated approximately 4m
downslope from their original position. The walls are constructed of a rubble
core, faced with Reigate Stone blocks and bonded by a mortar which contains
cockle shells as aggregate. A ditch is believed to have surrounded the wall.
This is now largely infilled and will survive as a buried feature. Placed
along the curtain wall, at irregular intervals, are massive towers. The three
along the western side are considered to date from this first phase of
construction. These three towers are rectangular in plan with the footings of
the north and middle tower surviving as masonry above ground level. The
southern tower, situated at the south west angle of the curtain wall, has
collapsed as a result of landslip. It is known from documentary sources that
the original, 13th century entrance to the castle was located on the eastern
side of the bailey and protected by a barbican. The entrance was moved to its
present position on the north side of the curtain when the eastern side of the
castle was remodelled by Edward III.

Towards the centre of the north and south walls of the curtain are the remains
of a pair of `D'-shaped towers which are also considered to date from the 13th
century. The North Tower has been reduced to the level of its foundations,
whereas the South Tower has largely fallen away with the subsidence of the

Limited excavation in 1971 revealed evidence of the buried foundations of
building ranges within the western part of the bailey. These include the
original hall (dated by pottery to the mid 13th century) and, superimposed
over this, a later 13th century hall measuring 17m by 9m with buttresses
surviving to the west. This second hall included an `L'-shaped solar at the
southern end which would have been situated on the first floor giving access
to a garderobe tower. Much of the western footings of the solar were removed
by subsequent rebuilding of the curtain wall.

Archaeological excavation has shown that the footings of the eastern wall of
the second phase of the hall were reused for a third hall, constructed to the
east of the first and second halls and dating from the end of the 13th
century. This hall also included a solar block to the south and the footings
of a room uncovered at the northern end of the hall are interpreted as the
remains of a buttery serving it.

The modifications to the castle under Edward III in the 14th century included
the construction of two large drum towers at the northern and southern angles
of the eastern curtain wall. These towers are 11m in diameter at their base
and stand three stories high. The towers are visually impressive and were
constructed on the eastern side of the castle to be easily seen by those
approaching up the Thames estuary. The northern side of the castle was also
remodelled with the construction of a massive wedge-shaped earthwork
projecting from the curtain wall. This was designed to move the northern
approach to the castle eastward with a new entrance being made to the west of
the North Tower. This entrance was protected by a gatehouse and barbican, the
barbican projecting some 16m beyond the gate and measuring c.8m in width. The
eastern wall of the barbican stands to a height of c.3m and, in 1971,
archaeological investigations revealed evidence for a pit, 3m by 6.75m and
c.2.5m deep, in the northern part of the barbican which would have originally
been spanned by a wooden turning-bridge. Timbers from the bridge were found in
the fill of the pit and a socket for one of the supporting beams was found in
its eastern edge. Where the entrance way breached the earlier curtain wall, it
was refaced, and the slots for a portcullis incorporated at the time are still
visible. The entrance was further protected by a `D'-shaped tower (the High
Tower) protruding from the line of the curtain wall immediately to the west of
the gateway. This structure still stands three stories high. The foundations
of a series of kitchens were uncovered during the 1971 excavations to the
south west of the High Tower, and a further range, considered to be a stable
block, was revealed between the barbican and the North Tower to the east. The
exact date of these structures is unknown, but they are thought to have been
constructed in the 14th century. The footings of all the above buildings are
now visible as consolidated masonry.

The second area is situated within a valley 70m to the north of the castle and
includes the earthwork remains of a dam and a buried mill site. The dam was
constructed across the valley and is visible as a slight earthwork (less than
0.5m high) 8m wide and 40m long running south west to north east.

Situated adjacent to the dam to the west is a level area representing the mill
pond. The mill pond was formed by the dam holding back the water of the stream
running along the base of the valley. A section of the mill pond floor
adjacent to the dam is included in the scheduling to protect a sample of the
deposits. Evidence for the mill buildings using the water power provided by
the planned pond will be preserved as buried features on the line of the dam.
The mill site is thought to be that belonging to the castle and mentioned in a
document of 1270.

The interpretation boards are excluded from the scheduling though the ground
beneath them is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 5 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

An enclosure castle is a defended residence or stronghold, built mainly of
stone, in which the principal or sole defence comprises the walls and towers
bounding the site. Some form of keep may have stood within the enclosure but
this was not significant in defensive terms and served mainly to provide
accommodation. Larger sites might have more than one line of walling and there
are normally mural towers and gatehouses. Outside the walls a ditch, either
waterfilled or dry, crossed by bridges may be found. The first enclosure
castles were constructed at the time of the Norman Conquest. However, they
developed considerably in form during the 12th century when defensive
experience gained during the Crusades was applied to their design. The
majority of examples were constructed in the 13th century although a few were
built as late as the 14th century. Some represent reconstructions of earlier
medieval earthwork castles of the motte and bailey type, although others were
new creations. They provided strongly defended residences for the king or
leading families and occur in both urban and rural situations. Enclosure
castles are widely dispersed throughout England, with a slight concentration
in Kent and Sussex supporting a vulnerable coast, and a strong concentration
along the Welsh border where some of the best examples were built under Edward
I. They are rare nationally with only 126 recorded examples. Considerable
diversity of form is exhibited with no two examples being exactly alike. With
other castle types, they are major medieval monument types which, belonging to
the highest levels of society, frequently acted as major administrative
centres and formed the foci for developing settlement patterns. Castles
generally provide an emotive and evocative link to the past and can provide a
valuable educational resource, both with respect to medieval warfare and
defence and with respect to wider aspects of medieval society. All examples
retaining significant remains of medieval date are considered to be nationally

The enclosure castle at Hadleigh survives well as both standing remains and
buried features. Despite part excavation, the site remains largely undisturbed
and the excavation was undertaken in such a way that, even in the areas
examined, further archaeological deposits will survive.

Hadleigh Castle is the only known example of an enclosure castle in Essex and
so it represents the only defensive structure of its kind guarding the north
side of the Thames estuary. The documentary sources and part excavation allow
a detailed picture of the development of the castle to be drawn, and also
demonstrate that the site will retain evidence for many other components which
have yet to be investigated.

The mill site represents an interesting survival, in good condition, of a
feature commonly associated with castles, although frequently known from
documentary sources alone. It will provide evidence for the processing of
agricultural produce from the locality, and is illustrative of the castle's
control over the local economy.

The site lies adjacent to the centre of Southend and is highly valued as an
open space and public amenity.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Kenyon, J, Medieval Fortifications, (1990)
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, , The Monuments of South-East Essex, (1923), 62-66
Drewett, P L, 'Journal of the British Archaeological Association' in Hadleigh Castle Essex, , Vol. 38, (1975), 90-154
Source Date: 1777
Essex County Maps (PRO)

Source: Historic England

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