Ancient Monuments

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Court Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Winkleigh, Devon

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Latitude: 50.8574 / 50°51'26"N

Longitude: -3.943 / 3°56'34"W

OS Eastings: 263336.631487

OS Northings: 108226.588711

OS Grid: SS633082

Mapcode National: GBR KW.VBX0

Mapcode Global: FRA 26MT.X9Q

Entry Name: Court Castle

Scheduled Date: 23 June 1938

Last Amended: 8 December 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016226

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30302

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Winkleigh

Built-Up Area: Winkleigh

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Winkleigh All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


The monument includes a medieval motte and bailey castle situated at the
eastern end of the village of Winkleigh on a ridge overlooking the valley of
the Bullow Brook to the south. The monument is one of two earthwork castles in
the village. The second, Croft Castle, lies to the west and is the subject of
a separate scheduling.
The monument survives as an oval-shaped, flat-topped motte with a rectangular
mound on its north eastern corner, a ditch which is well defined to the north
and west of the motte, but which survives as a buried feature elsewhere, and a
D-shaped bailey which has been incorporated into the gardens of the nearby
Winkleigh Court. The motte, which is oval in shape, measures 92m long from
north to south and 67m wide from east to west at its base. It ranges in height
from 1.8m on the north western side to 10.1m on the south eastern side. The
flattened top of the mound measures 62m long from north to south and 45.2m
wide from east to west. In the north eastern quadrant there is a rectangular
mound which may represent the original height of the motte. This measures
21.5m long from east to west, 16m wide from north to south at its base and is
2.2m high. The ditch surrounding the mound is evident to the north and east,
where it measures up to 15m wide and 1.7m deep, with a 2m wide flat bottom.
The layout of the road to the south of the motte follows the original line of
the ditch, but does not cut it. On the eastern side of the motte the B3220
runs from north to south and crosses the ditch and part of the bailey.
However, the road surface does not cut into the ditch, or those parts of the
bailey which are effected by it.
The motte and bailey once formed part of extensive formal gardens attached to
Winkleigh Court. During the 18th century a brick-built banqueting house was
erected on the summit of the motte. This is located in the centre of the mound
and is square in plan externally, measuring 5.9m across and 6m high. The walls
are 0.65m thick.
The bailey lies to the south east of the mound. It is partly overlain by the
B3220 and its verges and has become fossilised within the layout of the formal
gardens of Winkleigh Court. A D-shaped level area measuring 50m long from
north to south and 44.3m wide from east to west, defined by a scarp of up to
1.6m high, lies directly to the south of the present 18th century house.
Further remains of the bailey, possibly up to half, now lie beneath the
present house. A drive which gives access to the property may overlie the
original line of the outer ditch surrounding the bailey.
The motte and bailey are thought to date to the late 11th or early 12th
centuries, when William II passed the land to Robert Fitz Roy, later the Earl
of Gloucester. The area was held by Matilda during the Civil War. During the
12th century the manor was split. Court Castle became the property of the
Keynes family until the 16th century. The manor was sold in 1550 to George
Escott of Chawleigh, passed to George Broughton of Studley, and in 1638 was
sold to Thomas Lethbridge of Jacobstowe. During this period the present house
at Winkleigh Court and the banqueting tower were erected. Winkleigh Court
remained with the Lethbridge family until 1821, when it was sold to Reverend
George Johnson.
Winkleigh Court, Castle Cottage (both Listed Grade II) and Castle House are
excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these buildings is

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Motte and bailey 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-bailey 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 and
bailey 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 or motte-and-bailey castles are recorded nationally,
with examples known from most regions. 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.

Despite limited damage to the bailey in particular, Court Castle survives
well and contains archaeological information relating to Norman military
activity in this part of Devon. The monument also forms a notable landscape
feature within the village of Winkleigh. The proximity of this castle to
another in the village is an unusual feature.

Source: Historic England


Robert, S., Court Castle, Winkleigh, Devon. A new survey by the RCHME, (1992)

Source: Historic England

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