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Bletchingley Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Blechingele; Blechingley

In the civil parish of Bletchingley.
In the historic county of Surrey.
Modern Authority of Surrey.
1974 county of Surrey.
Medieval County of Surrey.

OS Map Grid Reference: TQ32115052
Latitude 51.23916° Longitude -0.10678°

Bletchingley Castle 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.


Despite the partial infilling of the outer ditch on the western side and the limited disturbance caused by excavation and building works in the 19th and 20th centuries, the ringwork and bailey at Bletchingley survives well and large areas, especially within the ringwork, lie apparently undisturbed. The survival of part of a Norman domestic building is also a rarity and one which adds to the diversity of features within the castle. The potential of the monument for the recovery of further evidence of the date and manner of occupation of the castle is high. As a result of the small-scale excavations, the level of archaeological documentation is good. The monument includes a castle of the Norman period which comprises an inner near-circular enclosure, or ringwork, and an outer enclosure, or bailey. The ringwork is defined by a massive ditch on the northern and eastern sides which still survives to a depth of over 6m. On the inner edge is an earthen bank or rampart which stands to between 1.4 and 2.4m above the level of the land in the interior. The ditch is spanned on the NE side by a causeway 3m wide which marks the original access route into the inner part of the castle. The bank and ditch of the ringwork gives way on the south side to the steep natural slope of the hill, while on the western side it has been partially-levelled to make room for a large Victorian house. The main building within the ringwork was a house some 24m square. Its undercroft survives in places to a height of 2.5m beneath rubble from the house's collapse. The house had living quarters on the first floor, to which access was gained via stairs at the NW and SE corners. The house has been partially excavated, but the north-eastern half remains uninvestigated. The outer defences comprise a bank and ditch which surround the ringwork on all sides except the south, although they have been levelled on the western side. To the north and east the bank survives to a maximum height of 1.6m and averages 7m across. Between the inner and outer defences was the bailey, where ancillary buildings such as stables and storage huts were sited. (Scheduling Report)

Ring motte and bailey first mentioned 1160, with later stone keep probably built between 1152 and 1217. Only foundations of the keep survived in the early 19th century but partial reconstruction has occurred since. Outworks have been partly damaged by modern building. Excavations have identified a Medieval hall. It has been suggested that it was the principal castle of Richard Fitz Gilbert, and that the earthworks around the castle may represent a campaign position of the Norman army in the winter of 1066-7. (PastScape)

Thompson considers that the early thin-walled keep is more an example non-military architecture than military. (PastScape ref. Fortress, 1992)
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:01

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