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Merryfield House

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Merrifield; Murefeld; Merefeld; Muryfield; Merifield; Wadham's Castle

In the civil parish of Cudworth.
In the historic county of Somerset.
Modern Authority of Somerset.
1974 county of Somerset.
Medieval County of Somerset.

OS Map Grid Reference: ST33981779
Latitude 50.95575° Longitude -2.94131°

Merryfield House has been described as a probable Fortified Manor House.

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains.


Documented manor site mentioned in the 1327 lay subsidy, occupied by Wadham family who founded Wadham College Oxford. A rectangular moat with entrance on S side. Inner side of the moat ditch is revetted with mortared stone walling. A causeway is original. The site of the house, demolished after 1618, could be traced in 1934 but is not now visible. A large boulder 2mx1m on the island has local legendary associations. Woodhouse Farm, the almshouses at Ilton and other local buildings said to contain re-used material from the house. The uneven area of pasture enclosed by the moat has a surface scatter of rubble with a few fragments of medieval ridge tiles and pottery. Good medieval fishpond on the N side, with possible extension on the NW. (OS record 1966)
Moat and fishponds are well preserved. A mortared lias wall revets the island and short lengths are visible on the outer rim of the moat opposite the main fishpond. North-south fishpond downslope from moat, defined by banks up to 1.5m high. Waterlogged at the north end, breached at the north-east corner. Additional banks in surrounding field (Site visit report - Burrow, I. Somerset County Council (11/10/1979)).
An associated deer park lies to the east (PRN 53382) (Verbal communication - Dennison, E. Somerset County Council, Sites and Monuments Record (5/9/1984))
A survey in 2003-4 found the moat to measure c40m by c50m with an average width of 6m. The moat is constructed with walls of Blue Lias. There is an earth causeway on the south side of the moat measuring 3m wide by 10m long (Patuck 2004) (Somerset HER)

Included by Dunning in a gazetteer of 'fortified houses and moated sites' although no other castle studies author has described it as fortified. He also mentions a base of a tower including a loophole surviving into the mid C18. Seems to have been called a 'castle' in the C16/C17 and still sometimes known as Wadham's castle. This large house, of the founders of Wadham College, within a revetted moat and with attached deer park is likely to have had some symbolic military architectural features such as the decorative battlements that can be seen on Wadham College's buildings.
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:32

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