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Richmont Castle, East Harptree

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Estharpetre; Harpestre; Arpetream; Harpetreu

In the civil parish of East Harptree.
In the historic county of Somerset.
Modern Authority of Bath and North East Somerset.
1974 county of Avon.
Medieval County of Somerset.

OS Map Grid Reference: ST562558
Latitude 51.29963° Longitude -2.63062°

Richmont Castle, East Harptree has been described as a certain Timber Castle, and also as a certain Masonry Castle.

There are masonry footings remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Medieval castle mentioned in the reign of Stephen and destroyed during the reign of King Henry VIII. Parts of the curtain wall survives for a length of 30m and in places it is 3m thick and 2.2m high. (PastScape)

The castle earthworks cover an area of 1.58ha and are marked by the fragmentary remains of three banks and two external ditches. These earthworks define a great tower and an inner and outer bailey. At the northern end, the principal residential area, there are the stone remains of a circular tower and part of the rubble core of the curtain wall as well as the earthworks of at least two buildings. Elsewhere the castle is largely devoid of stonework since it has been thoroughly dismantled and robbed for its building material; however, stretches of the course of the curtain wall can still be traced as rubble walling and as an earthwork. Scarring much of the two baileys, the western side of the spur, and the area to the south of the castle, are the pits and rakes of a phase of industrial mining which tends to obscure the form of the castle. (Brown, 2008)
It is not entirely clear when Richmont Castle was constructed but it was probably sometime in the late 11th century, soon after the Norman Conquest. It was certainly in existence in 1138 during the period of the Anarchy between king Stephen and the Empress Matilda (1135-1154). In 1138 it was held by Sir William de Harptree who supported Matilda; following the siege of Bristol, Stephen advanced on Richmont and burnt the gates and secured the castle. The subsequent history of the castle is unknown but it probably remained the residence of the de Harptree family (later known as de Gourney) for much of the later medieval period. (Brown, 2008)

A Royal licence to crenellate was granted in <1343 (Click on the date for details of this licence.) but then revoked.


Post mortum inquisition of Thomas de Gourney in 1343 records 'he held nothing of the King in chief, etc., but rendered 6s. 8d. yearly to the King for licence to crenellate (karnellandi) the castle of Estharpetre' Coulson writes "writ of Certiorari produced a new inquisition which omitted this detail (the yearly fee) (August 1347). There is no enrolment as calendared, so the licence was probably cancelled for non-payment. It was probably a Hanaper fee, due to be collected by the sheriff, wrongly entered as annual." The speculation being that the death of Thomas was the reason for the none payment and that 'yearly' is an error for 'to be paid this year'. The castle may well have been purchased by Thomas de Gourney, a member of a neighbouring family, from the de Harptrees in 1329/30 and the licence applied for to confirm this change of ownership when new building was started or was about to be finished. Some of the standing remains may date from that time.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape   County HER   Scheduling        
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:29

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