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Chideock Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Chidiok; Ruins Field

In the civil parish of Chideock.
In the historic county of Dorset.
Modern Authority of Dorset.
1974 county of Dorset.
Medieval County of Dorset.

OS Map Grid Reference: SY42399309
Latitude 50.73456° Longitude -2.81769°

Chideock Castle has been described as a certain Fortified Manor House.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.

Description

Chideock Castle is a well preserved example of a moated site in an area of the country where moats are rare. It will contain archaeological and environmental remains providing information about medieval society, economy and landscape. The survival of external features surrounding the moat provides an unusual and significant association allowing a fuller understanding of the nature and development of the site.
The monument includes Chideock Castle, the earthwork remains of a moated site of manorial status and associated enclosures, fish ponds, building platforms and terraces within the field known as Ruins Field. The site was surveyed and mapped by students from Bournemouth University in 1977 and 1993. The moat and site occupies a west facing slope on an outcrop of marl and clay which extends to a stream to the west. A square platform, 42m across, containing earthworks which reflect the positions of previous buildings, is surrounded by a deep moat, on average 15m wide and 2.5m deep. The gatehouse was located at the south eastern corner of the platform, where the moat was probably originally bridged; there is now a modern causeway at this point. The moat on the eastern side is now partly filled in and the eastern edge of it is buried under soil deriving from the field up slope. The ditch on the northern side has been filled in and a series of terraces constructed over it, possibly for agricultural use or landscaping associated with the later use of the site when the moat ditch was no longer in use. The moat is now largely dry. Hutchins reported in 1866 that the moat was fed by lead pipes from a spring rising at the foot of Quarry Hill to the east, although this could not be verified on the ground. The narrowing of the moat ditch on the north eastern corner may suggest a sluice to control water levels. Channels run westwards from the moat down to two fishponds. Other platforms and banks in this area may also indicate building sites and horticultural activities. Platforms and other earthworks to the east of the moat ditch probably also represent the sites of outbuildings. A lynchet, which runs north-south from the southern edge of the moat, appears to predate it and may be associated with the bank and ditch running down slope to the west, enclosing what may have been an earlier field. The whole complex covers about 4.2ha and is enclosed by a bank, which now supports a hedge and which may define the original boundary. Documentary evidence indicates that the manor of Chideock was given to Sir Thomas le Brithun in 1248. In the late 13th century the manor passed to John Gervase who was granted a licence to crenellate his hall. Licences to crenellate were also granted in the late 14th century. The house was built in stone with later brick additions and was destroyed in the Civil War. The ruins of the gatehouse were still visible in 1733 when they were pictured in an engraving by Buck, showing a tower at each corner, but were destroyed by the middle of the 18th century. A wooden cross on a bonded stone base in the centre of the platform commemorates the seven Roman Catholic Chideock martyrs executed in the 1590s. (Scheduling Report)

The earthwork remains of a moated site of manorial status and associated enclosures, fishponds, building platforms and terraces within the field known as Ruins Field. The moated site comprises a square platform, 42 metres across, containing earthworks which reflect the positions of previous buildings. It is surrounded by a deep moat, on average 15 metres wide and 2.5 metres deep. The gatehouse was located at the south eastern corner of the platform. The moat on the eastern side is now partly filled in and the eastern edge of it is buried under soil deriving from the field up the slope. The ditch on the northern side has been filled in and a series of terraces constructed over it, possibly for agricultural use or landscaping associated with the later use of the site when the moat ditch was no longer in use. The moat is now largely dry. Documentary evidence indicates that the manor of Chideock was given to SIr Thomas le Brithun in 1248. In the late C13 the manor passed to John Gervase who may have been granted a licence to crenellate his hall. Licences to crenellate were certainly granted in the late C14, for example in the reign of Edward III. The house was built in stone with later brick additions and was destroyed in the Civil War. The ruins of the gatehouse were still visible in 1733 when they were pictured in an engraving by Buck, but were destroyed by the middle of C18. (PastScape)

A Royal licence to crenellate may have been granted in late C13 (Click on the date for details of this supposed licence.).
A Royal licence to crenellate was granted in 1370 Feb 09.
A Royal licence to crenellate was confirmed in 1380 June 2.

Comments

The suggestion that John Gervase was granted a licence to crenellate seems to be an unsupported claim and may represent a misdating of the later licences and a subsequent misattribution to Gervase.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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The bibliography owes much to various bibliographies produced by John Kenyon for the Council for British Archaeology, the Castle Studies Group and others.
Suggestions for finding online and/or hard copies of bibliographical sources can be seen at this link.
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This record last updated before 1 February 2016

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