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Cheveley Castle, 350m north west of Old Hall Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Cheveley, Cambridgeshire

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Latitude: 52.2244 / 52°13'27"N

Longitude: 0.4564 / 0°27'22"E

OS Eastings: 567875.804913

OS Northings: 261313.144617

OS Grid: TL678613

Mapcode National: GBR PCJ.G78

Mapcode Global: VHJGQ.VCM2

Entry Name: Cheveley Castle, 350m north west of Old Hall Farm

Scheduled Date: 17 March 1926

Last Amended: 19 November 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015199

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27187

County: Cambridgeshire

Civil Parish: Cheveley

Built-Up Area: Cheveley

Traditional County: Cambridgeshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cambridgeshire

Church of England Parish: Cheveley St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Ely


The monument includes a small rectangular enclosure castle and an 18th or
early 19th century ice house constructed in one corner of the castle, located
in Cheveley Park some 350m north east of Old Hall Farm.
The castle is sited in a locally elevated position which, in the absence of
the beech copse now surrounding the monument, would have provided broad views
over the surrounding countryside. The castle building stood on a rectangular
platform which measures some 45m north west to south east by 38m, and is
surrounded by a formidable V-shaped moat. The moat, which was probably always
dry, ranges from 20m to 25m in width and between 5m and 6m in depth. The
considerable quantity of upcast from its construction must have been removed
from the site as the island platform is only raised by about 1m above the
level of its surroundings.
The platform, or ward, was enclosed by a curtain wall of bonded flint rubble,
perhaps with dressed stonework for architectural details. Fragments of the
coarse stone foundations still remain visible, partly buried in a slight bank
along the edges of the two longer sides, and slight rounded protrusions at the
four corners clearly indicate the position of corner turrets. Three of the
corner turrets are marked by rounded depressions within these projections, and
the lower course around the outer wall of the eastern turret can still be
seen. The surface of the platform is generally level showing no signs of
collapsed building materials or wall foundations. It is thought that it
originally contained a variety of timber structures, including the lord's main
hall and other buildings such as a chapel, kitchens, store rooms and
accommodation for guests and retainers, some of which were probably set
against the inner face of the curtain wall. The ward has not been excavated or
significantly disturbed, and the buried remains of these buildings are
considered to survive well. Access to the interior was provided by a
drawbridge across the centre of the north western arm of the moat. This has
since been replaced by a causeway, although the rubble foundations for the
bridge supports remain standing to heights of about 1.5m to either side of the
causeway where it abutts the platform.

The castle is thought to have been built by Sir John de Pulteney, financier
and four times Mayor of London, who was granted a licence to crenellate the
dwelling place of his manor in Cheveley in 1341. The resulting structure,
which is the only Edwardian castle in Cambridgeshire, is more likely to have
served as a mark of Pulteney's status than as a military stronghold, and to
have provided a prestigious hunting lodge as the centre piece of a deer park
established shortly thereafter.
The duration of the castle's use is unknown, although the general absence of
collapsed rubble in the ditch or on the island clearly shows that it was
eventually dismantled and robbed for stone. The site of the northern corner
turret was later used for an ice house, built in the late 18th or 19th
century. The brick-lined chamber is cylindrical, measuring 2.5m in width and
4.5m from the domed ceiling to the floor. Two thirds of the chamber lie below
ground level, and the remaining third is covered by an earthen mound, 8m in
diameter, and raised approximately 1m above the dome to provide insulation.
The chamber is entered through the north side of the mound via a barrel
vaulted brick-lined passageway which has been sealed with an iron grille. A
brick lined well shaft located near the centre of the south western edge of
the island is believed to be contemporary with the ice house, and may have
been used to draw water for a small adjacent pond from which some of the ice
stored here could have been collected.

The iron grilles, which seal the icehouse, are excluded from the scheduling.

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.

Cheveley Castle is the only Edwardian castle in Cambridgeshire and is one of
very few castles in the county to demonstrate evidence of stone construction.
Despite the demolition and robbing, the foundations of the walls, the
drawbridge and three of the corner turrets are believed to survive
substantially intact providing a complete plan of the curtain wall. The
platform or ward will retain buried evidence for the structures and other
features relating to occupation within the wall, and the silts within the
surrounding ditch will contain both artefacts and environmental evidence from
this period.
The elaborate character of this small castle together with its apparent lack
of a military function and association with the documented deer park is
particularly significant, providing an insight into the means by which the
achievement of wealth and status could be expressed by individuals, other than
noblemen, in the later medieval period.

The tradition of constructing ice houses in England is thought to have begun
in the late 17th century and to have reached a peak of popularity in the 18th
and 19th centuries when numerous examples were built to serve the increasing
number of large country houses. Used to maintain a consistent supply of ice
for domestic and medicinal purposes, these chambers (usually constructed from
brick or stone) were frequently partly or completely buried in order to ensure
adequate insulation. The source of the ice was a major consideration in the
location of such structures, early examples of which were often situated on
the margins of estates where the ice could be collected from shallow ponds.
The popularity of the ice house declined in the late 19th century as improved
transport made imported ice more readily available. The practice was finally
discontinued in the early 20th century as their function was gradually
superseded by the development of artificial means of refrigeration. About
2,500 ice houses are thought to survive nationally, many of which exist in
considerable states of disrepair. Intact examples which retain evidence of
their function and reflect the domestic arrangements of the houses to which
they were attached are considered to be of national importance.
The ice house at Chevely Castle is thought to have been built to serve the
country house of Cheveley Park, located some 800m to the south west. It
survives substantially complete and accompanied by both a well and pond which
are believed to have been related to its use.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Cambridgeshire, (1937), 24-5
The Victoria History of the County of Cambridgeshire, (1939), 73
Taylor, A, Castles of Cambridgeshire, (1990), 18
Field visit notes, Way, T, 1763 Cheveley Castle (parish file), (1993)
FMW report, Paterson, H, AM107 Cheveley Castle, (1991)
Taylor, A, 1763 Cheveley Castle, (1990)

Source: Historic England

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