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Hemyock Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Hemiok

In the civil parish of Hemyock.
In the historic county of Devonshire.
Modern Authority of Devon.
1974 county of Devon.
Medieval County of Devon.

OS Map Grid Reference: ST13511328
Latitude 50.91249° Longitude -3.23144°

Hemyock 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 2* listed building protected by law*.

Description

Ruined castle gatehouse and curtain walls. Circa 1380: in this year Sir William Asthorpe was licensed to erect a 'wall of stone and lime'. There was already a structure of some sort on this site, referred to in a C13 document as a 'court'; the early work on the gatehouse (see below) may date from this period. Random chert rubble. The curtain wall enclosed a roughly rectangular site; the principal remains are the circular towers flanking the main (east) entrance, and a corner tower at the north-east angle. There are remains of 4 other circular mural towers and stretches of curtain wall. No dressed stone or detailing survive, and it is not clear where the entrances to the towers were originally; clearly they were not at ground level. To the rear of the gatehouse towers is a vertical masonry joint probably indicating that part of the structure ante-dates the 1380s work. Besieged in 1642 when it was garrisoned by Parliamentarians but probably demolished circa1660. The remains of the gatehouse, walls and towers survive. The moat is well defined, from 1 to 2.5m deep around the southern and western sides, and from 0.7 to 1.2m deep on the northern side. Historical note: Sir William Asthorpe was a courtier, and appointed by Richard II as Sheriff of Devon in the 1380s in the face of considerable local hostility; he had married into the Dynham family, a connection that led to protracted family litigation in the Court of Chivalry; after his year in office as Sheriff, about a dozen cases of embezzlement and other corrupt practices were brought against him by numerous members of the local nobility. He was temporarily imprisoned in The Fleet prison, but pardoned by Richard II. His vulnerability probably explains in part the erection of the castle, but it was doubtless also intended to impress the local gentry. (Listed Building Report)

Principal remains are the circular flanking towers which flank the east entrance, and the one at the north east angle. Parts of the four other mural towers and curtain wall survive. No indication of the layout of the medieval buildings; the surviving fabric is rubble with no details visible. Sherwin's plan assumes a single tower on the west opposite the gatehouse, but recent work by Cambell suggests there were two towers on this side with the wall swinging outwards to follow the pattern of the moat. The 1380 licence to crenellate allowed for the building of a 'wall of stone and lime'. There is a 13th century reference to a 'court'. (Devon and Dartmoor HER ref. Higham 1979)

A Royal licence to crenellate was granted in 1380 Nov 5 (Click on the date for details of this licence.).

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Sources of information, references and further reading
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*The listed building may not be the actual medieval building, but a building on the site of, or incorporating fragments of, the described site.
This record last updated before 1 February 2016

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