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Farleigh Hungerford Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Farle Mountford; Farley Hungerford

In the civil parish of Norton St Philip.
In the historic county of Somerset.
Modern Authority of Somerset.
1974 county of Somerset.
Medieval County of Somerset.

OS Map Grid Reference: ST80095762
Latitude 51.31743° Longitude -2.28705°

Farleigh Hungerford Castle has been described as a certain Masonry Castle.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.

Description

Farleigh Hungerford Castle is an enclosure castle built between the late 14th century and early 15th century and situated on high ground on the south bank of a bend in the River Frome. The castle includes an inner court and outer court with natural man-made defences surrounding it. The inner court lies at the north west end of the castle and comprises a hall with curtain wall and towers. The inside of much of the keep was divided into living quarters, which included a hall and kitchen, seen now as wall footings and substructures, while the northern corner was devoted to the garden. The north east and north west towers are ruined down to basement level, but the south west and south east towers remain upstanding in part. The curtain wall stands to full height in some places and is ruinous elsewhere. The outer court is formed by a curtain wall which abuts the hall and encloses an area of circa 3000 square metres. In the outer court is a chapel, the Priest's House, and the site of the stables. Both the chapel of St Leonard and the Priest's House are still intact. The chapel, of mid 14th century date, was the parish church which was originally outside the defences whilst the Priest's House is east of the chapel and dates to the early 15th century. Whilst the north and east sides of the castle were naturaly defended by the steep scarp the west and south sides were defended by a moat. From the reign of William II to Edward III, Farleigh was held by the Montfort family and their original manor house was on the site of the castle. In 1369-70 the manor was bought by Sir Thomas de Hungerford who fortified the manor house and built the hall in 1380-90. His son, Sir Walter Hungerford, added the outer court in 1420-30 including the moat. Although the castle is said to have prospered for about 300 years, it was described as in a 'very ruinous' state by 1701. The chapel features an exquiste wall painting of St George standing, one of only four such known examples in England. (PastScape)

The enclosure castle known as Farleigh Hungerford Castle is a striking and well preserved example of its class and is much visited by the public. The castle's builder, Sir Thomas Hungerford, was a prominent figure in the late 14th century and subsequent members of the Hungerford family played leading parts in the history of the country. The castle is well documented throughout its history. Farleigh Hungerford Castle is known from excavation to contain archaeological information and environmental evidence relating to the castle and the landscape in which it was constructed.
The monument includes an enclosure castle situated on high ground on the south bank of a bend in the River Frome. The castle which is Listed Grade I includes an inner court and outer court with natural and man-made defences surrounding it. The inner court lies at the north west end of the castle and comprises a hall with curtain wall and towers. The hall is of quadrangular plan comprising a rectangular enclosure surrounded by a curtain wall with a circular tower at each angle. The entrance to the hall is in the middle of the south side. The inside of much of the keep was divided into living quarters, which included a hall and kitchen, seen now as wall footings and substructures, while the northern corner was devoted to a garden. The north east and north west towers are ruined down to basement level, but the south west and south east towers remain upstanding in part. The curtain wall stands to full height in some places and is ruinous elsewhere. An inner gate, barbican and ditch separate the hall from the outer court. The ditch to the east of the gate is partly infilled; in the 17th century it contained a garden. The outer court, lying to the south east of the hall, is formed by a curtain wall which abuts the hall and encloses an irregular area of c.3000 sq metres. In the outer court is a chapel, the Priest's House, and the site of the stables. The curtain wall around the outer court has a tower and two entrances in its circuit, a west gate and an east gate formerly with a tower. In the outer court the chapel of Saint Leonard (Listed Grade I) and the Priest's House (Listed Grade 2star) are still intact. The chapel was the parish church which was originally outside the defences, but was included within the outer court as the castle chapel when the curtain was built. The Priest's House is east of the chapel and separated from it by a narrow courtyard, and was extended northward to form a long low building in the 17th century. There is one tower, the south tower, surviving in the curtain wall. This has an arch restored in modern times which is included in the scheduling. The main entrance to the outer court is by the east gate. The gatehouse has modern battlements, as does the curtain wall in this area. The modern battlements are included in the scheduling to preserve the uniformity of the building as it exists today. Originally there was a drawbridge, but the ditch here was backfilled and domestic buildings erected in 1610-20. Their foundations are visible to the west of the causeway. Beyond the curtain wall and the keep is the natural defence of a steep scarp on the north and east sides of the castle. On the west and south sides the castle is defended by a moat. From the reign of William II to that of Edward III, Farleigh was held by the Montfort family and was known as Farleigh Montfort. Their original manor house was on the site of the later castle. In 1369-70 the manor was bought by Sir Thomas de Hungerford, who had been Speaker in the House of Commons in 1377. It was Sir Thomas who fortified the manor house and built the hall in 1380-90. His son, Sir Walter Hungerford, also a Speaker in the House of Commons, became Lord Hungerford in 1426, and from this time Farleigh was known as Farleigh Hungerford. Lord Hungerford added the outer court in 1420-30 including the moat with two dams, only one of which survives, to control the flow of water. The castle remained in the Hungerford family almost continually until 1686. In 1701 it was described as being very ruinous. All the buildings of the inner court, except the south east and south west towers and parts of the curtain wall, were destroyed in the 18th century. Eventually in 1915 it was placed in state care. In 1973-76 excavations were carried out north of the chapel and on the ditch and curtain wall of the west side of the outer court. (Scheduling Report)

A royal pardon and licence to crenellate was granted in 1383 Nov 26 (Click on the date for details of this licence.).

Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape   County HER   Scheduling   Listing   I. O. E.
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 09/05/2017 08:15:34

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