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Monument Name Hedingham Castle
SMR Number 6787
Summary The castle was built in the late 11th to early 12th century.
Castle Hedingham, Keep
Castle Hedingham, Keep
Castle Hedingham, Keep
Castle Hedingham, Keep
Castle Hedingham, Keep
Castle Hedingham, Keep
Castle Hedingham, Keep
Castle Hedingham, Keep
Castle Hedingham, Keep
Castle Hedingham, Keep
Castle Hedingham, Keep
Castle Hedingham, Keep
Castle Hedingham, Keep
Castle Hedingham, Keep
Associated Media
None Available
Description The castle was built by the de Vere's, Earls of Oxford, in the late 11th to early 12th century <14>. It consisted of an inner bailey surrounded by a curtain wall, with the keep in the middle, and the great hall and other buildings on the SW. An outer bailey lay to the NE, connected to the inner bailey by a bridge. The surviving earthworks consist of the mount which forms the inner bailey, the outer bailey, and traces of the start of a probable town enclosure on the W. The mount is of c.2 acres, approx. oval in shape and flat topped. To the NW and SW it has a deep ditch with a strong bank. This has diappeared to the SE. The banks of a shallow ditch btween the mount and outer bailey are revetted with a tudor brick wall. There is an old well on the mount. The outer bailey has a strong rampart along the E arm, continuing along the N side but with no berm. Buildings and gardens have obliterated part of the S arm (see plan in source <1>). The keep was built c.1130-40, and the fore-building added shortly afterwards. It is 58x53ft and of 4 storeys. The walls are of flint rubble faced with Barnack stone, averaging 11ft thick on the ground floor. Originally each angle carried a square turret, but only the NW and SE remain. Putlog holes remain in all the walls. Each elevation has a similar arangement of windows and the entrance archway is in the N half of the 2nd storey of the W front. The fore-building remains consist of a rectangular projection extending to the height of the basement storey against the W front. The facing has been removed from the flint rubble walls. Stone stairs leading up to the entrance, against the keep S of the fore-building, were enclosed by a flint rubble wall now stripped of its facing. The original floors inside the keep do not survive. Most of the other buildings were rebuilt in the late 15th or early 16th century, including the bridge, curtain, great hall, and various towers. 3 towers were aparently destroyed in the late 16th century. The remaining buildings, apart from the keep and bridge, were probably destroyed during the 17th and 18th centuries. Fragments of the curtain wall survive. Excavations in 1853 and 1869 revealed the foundations of the great hall (c83x37ft), its adjoining butteries and other buildings, the E end of the chapel, traces of 2 towers and a gatehouse at the inner end of the bridge. The bridge is late 15th or early 16th century, brick, much restored, and of 4 spans. <1>-<4> <7>-<9> Other refs: <5> <6> <10>-<13> Additional information is contained in all the above and additional sources. At some point between 1561 and 1592 the seventeenth Earl of Oxford razed most of the buildings, with the exception of the keep, on the castle mound. Further demolition took place in 1666 to prevent Dutch prisoners-of-war being kept in the castle. With the death in 1703 of Aubrey de Vere, the 20th Earl, the Earldom became extinct <14> Aerial Photograph. <16> <18> <20> Geophysical survey started in 1997. <17> Geophysical survey by Colchester Archaeological Group <21> Site Assessment = 'The earthworks are important and extensive, and the keep is among the finest and most complete examples of 12th century military architecture in England. The condition of the tower is extraordinarily perfect, and the walls and arched recesses to a great extent retain internally the original plastering'. Foundations exposed in 19th century excavations now mostly overgrown. Earthwork condition is good, keep very good, and bridge good. <1> 'It is....probably the best preserved of all tower keeps in England. <2> Listed Building Description: TL 78 35 CASTLE HEDINGHAM BAYLEY STREET 8/1 Hedingham Castle 7 8 52 GV I Castle Keep circa 1130-1140. Built for Aubrey De Vere and reputedly designed by William De Corbeuil, Archbishop of Canterbury. Of flint rubble faced throughout with Barnack stone. C20 wooden floors and lead roof. Of square plan 58 feet x 53 feet. Four storeys. The walls have an average thickness at ground floor level of 11 feet tapering to 10 feet. Height approximately 70 feet with two remaing turrets at north west and south east corners with heights varying between approximately 15 feet to 25 feet. The remains of the north west rectangular fore-building of basement height now of flint rubble formerly stone faced with stone steps approaching the entrance door from south to north. The keep walls have a battered base below the chamfered plinth, this base continues around the wide, flat corner pilaster buttresses, with smaller flat central pilasters springing from the plinth. Putlog holes remain in all walls and there are gabled, semi-circular and straight keying channels from previous buildings. Each elevation has a similar window range. Basement with two narrow loops with chamfered jambs and very deep internal splays, second storey with two narrow windows with moulded semi-circular heads, shafted jambs with moulded bases, scalloped capitals and chamfered abaci, excepting the west front with only one window. Third storey has a similar lower range of windows, but a wider upper range of two pairs of coupled windows with similar detail. Top storey has two elaborate windows with shafted jambs, moulded bases, scalloped capitals, moulded abaci and semi-circular arches of two orders, the outer with carved chevrons, the inner curved and plain. Angle pilaster buttresses with loops and small semi-circular headed windows. North west turret, south and east walls, plain windows with semi-circular heads, north wall with a later rough opening. South east turret, north wall with similar original window and later windows to other walls of C19/20 brick. On the west front the basement windows are blocked by the fore building. The entrance doorway with semi-circular arch of two orders, the plain inner order with portcullis groove, the outer with chevron ornament, jambs with attached shafts with moulded and carved bases and scalloped capitals with moulded abaci. Over the archway are keying channels for the former roofs of fore-building and staircase porch. Interior. In the north east corner a garderobe runs the full height of the building whilst the spiral staircase occupies the north west corner. The central stone newel has a 21 inch diameter and steps 5 feet 2 inches wide, originally stone, now brick. Basement. A C19 brick partition wall forms two main chambers. There are small chambers within the wall to south east and south west. Stair turret entrance renewed with brick. First Floor. The original east-west central plain segmental arch with the centre now missing has moulded abaci to plain pilaster jambs. The entrance doorway jamb angles are shafted and have moulded and carved bases, scalloped capitals with moulded abaci and the semi-circular arch is of the same section as the jambs. There is a long hole for a draw bar in the south jamb. All window recesses with moulded semi- circular arches, shafted jambs with scalloped capitals and moulded bases. North east corner in the thickness of the wall is an entrance passage with groined vaulting to garderobe. Centre of south wall with original fireplace consisting of a segmental recess which has shafted jambs with moulded base, scalloped capital and moulded abaci ornamented with billet pattern. The semi-circular arch is moulded and enriched with chevron ornament. The segmental back of fireplace is of brick 1 3/8" thick. The flue is short and cone-shaped and smoke outlets were rectangular openings each side of the centre buttress. Small chambers within the wall to north-east and west also to south east and south west angles. These chambers are barrel vaulted and entered through doorways in the window recesses. Doorways with plain or rebated jambs and semi-circular arches. Second Floor or Hall. Of two storeys. It is spanned by probably the largest Norman arch in Europe. Richly moulded and semi-circular it springs from shafted pilasters with moulded and beaded bases, scalloped capitals with moulded abaci. Central to east and west walls. All window recesses with angle shafts with moulded bases and scalloped capitals, some enriched with Bead ornament, the semi-circular arches with rich zig-zag moulding. The abaci of the capitals continue as a string course along the south wall and over the arch of the fireplace. The splays of the original windows have angle shafts, capital and abaci with arches over similar to the recesses. In the centre of the south wall is an original fireplace similar to that on the first floor but with slightly different capital detail. Entrance archway from stair turret with continuous roll moulding. In north east, south east and south west angles of the rood are shafts with moulded bases and scalloped capitals, which originally supported ceiling wall plates. Some corbels also remain. Small recess next to garderobe in north east corner, with groined vault to entrance passage. Similar chambers in thickness of wall as to first floor. The chamber immediately above the entrance formed the Portcullis Chamber. The upper storey formed the Hall Gallery. There is a continuous passage in the thickness of the walls. The south gallery entrance has double shafted jambs continued in a semi- circular arch, the shafts of the jambs enriched with spiral bands of bead ornament. The north gallery entrance has shafted jambs with moulded bases, scalloped capitals and moulded abaci, semi-circular arches of the same section as jambs. On each side, opening into hall are two arches, similar in detail to the north entrance, the passages have barrel-vaults intersecting at the angles. Top Floor window recesses are plain with semi-circular soffits. Holes for the original shutter hinges remain and shutter slots in soffits. There is a recess in the centre of each wall with a plain semi-circular head and a smaller recess at north of east wall. North east, south east and south west angles with small chambers in wall thickness entered from window recesses as on other floors. The Castle Keep is situated in the middle of the inner bailey which originally had a curtain wall and wall connected to the outer bailey by a bridge qv 8/2. The Great Hall and other buildings were to the south west, most of which including the bridge were rebuilt C15/C16 and were probably destroyed C17/C18. Some material being re-used circa 1718-19 when the present house was rebuilt in the outer bailey to the north east qv 8/4. The castle ranks among the most important Norman buildings in the country if not northern Europe and is scheduled as an Ancient Monument. RCHM 3. Listing NGR: TL7870635868
Monument Type(s) CASTLE (Dated 1066AD to 1539AD)
BAILEY (Dated 1066AD to 1539AD)
RINGWORK (Dated 1066AD to 1539AD)
CHAPEL (Dated 1066AD to 1539AD)
WELL (Dated 1066AD to 1539AD)
BRIDGE (Dated 1066AD to 1539AD)
BUILDING (Dated 1066AD to 1539AD)
BUILDING (Dated 1066AD to 1539AD)
GATEHOUSE (Dated 1066AD to 1539AD)
TOWER (Dated 1066AD to 1539AD)
WALL (Dated 1066AD to 1539AD)
Monument Class(es) BRICK
Period 1066AD to 1539AD Medieval
Status Listed Building (EH)
National Grid Reference Square: TL73NE
Ref: 787359
Finds None listed
Events PART EXCAV by Majendie, LA,


Field visit to 6787 by Paterson, H, FMW on SEP-1981

Field visit to 6787 by Chant, K, FMW on MAR-1984

Geophysical survey at Hedingham Castle by Colin Shell

Field visit to 6787 by Paterson, H, FMW on MAY-1986

Field visit to 6787 by Paterson, H, FMW on MAR-1987

Field visit to 6787 by Paterson, H, FMW on JULY-1989

Field visit to 6787 by Paterson, H, FMW on APR-1992

Geophysical Survey of the Castle Mound, Hedingham Castle

Sources <1> Desc Text : An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex - Volume 1 (RCHME) Vol 1, pp51-57 Dated : 1916

<10> Graphic material : Castle 1665 (unknown) No.95, Front Dated : 1986

<11> Map : Hedingham Castle in 1592 (unknown) No.95, Back, from survey of Israel Amyce Dated : 1986

<12> Photograph : TL73-001 (unknown) 9 frames Dated : unknown

<13> Aerial Photo : AXL 97, 101, 102 (unknown) Dated : 1969

<14> Desc Text : Castle Hedingham Historic Town Assessment Report (Medlycott, Maria) Dated : 1999

<15> Desc Text : Hedingham Castle, Castle Hedingham, Essex (RCHME) Dated : 1995

<16> Aerial Photo : CP/00/15/6 (Tyler, Sue) Dated : 2000

<17> Desc Text : Geophysical Survey at Hedingham Castle (Shell, Colin A) Dated : 1997

<18> Aerial Photo : F96.F41/58/RAF/4646/587 (RAF) Dated : 1961

<19> Map : NMP Cropmark Plot - 1:10,000 (Ingle, CJ, Strachan, D, Tyler, S and Saunders, H) Dated : 1993-2012

<2> Desc Text : The Buildings of England, Essex (Pevsner, N) pp98-99 Dated : 1954

<20> Aerial Photo : CP/07/05/10-15 (Saunders, Helen) Dated : 2007

<21> Desc Text : Report of a Geophysical Survey of the Castle Mound, Hedingham Castle (Colchester Archaeological Group) Dated : 2008

<22> AP (Digital) : EX12/02/058-063 (Saunders, Helen) Dated : 2012

<3> RECORD SHEET/FORM : OS cards (Ordnance Survey) TL73NE09, 1952 Dated : unknown

<4> Desc Text : TL73-001 (unknown) Dated : unknown

<5> Desc Text : Account of the family of de Vere and of Hedingham Castle (Majendie, Rev. SAA) extract consisting of pp94-96 Dated : 1904

<6> Desc Text : Trans Essex Archaeol Soc (Majendie, LA) Old Series Vol 5 Dated : 1869

<7> Scheduling record : DOE Scheduled Ancient Monuments (Department of the Environment) parts 5-8 Dated : 1986

<8> Desc Text : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest: Braintree (Department of the Environment) pp1-4 Dated : 1984

<9> Desc Text : Historic Towns in Essex: An Archaeological Survey (Eddy, MR with Petchey, MR) p32 Dated : 1983