Guildford Castle


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1012340

Date first listed: 01-Jan-1920

Date of most recent amendment: 07-Jun-1991


Ordnance survey map of Guildford Castle
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 16-Jan-2019 at 03:38:27.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Surrey

District: Guildford (District Authority)

National Grid Reference: SU 99750 49268


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

The castle at Guildford developed over several centuries, originating as a motte-and-bailey before being remodelled as a shell keep and eventually a tower keep castle. Motte castles were introduced into Britain by the Normans. They comprised a large conical mound of earth or rubble, the motte, surmounted by a palisade and a stone or timber tower. In a majority of examples an embanked enclosure containing additional buildings - the bailey - adjoined the motte. Between the Conquest and the mid 13th century, usually during the 12th century, a number of motte-and-bailey castles and ringworks were remodelled in stone. In the case of mottes, the timber palisade surrounding the top of the motte mound was replaced by a thick stone wall to form a "shell-keep". An alternative defensive strategy adopted at some sites was to build a castle in which a massively built and strongly fortified stone tower of several stories - a "tower keep" - acted both as a residence and the principal defensive feature. Norman castles of this type acted as garrison forts during offensive military operations, as strongholds, and, in many cases, as aristocratic residences and the centre of local or royal administration. Although over 600 motte castles or motte-and-bailey castles are recorded nationally, examples converted into shell keeps or tower keeps are far rarer. Guildford is a particularly unusual survival, having been converted to both a shell keep and a tower keep, and with elements from each of its constructional phases extant. The tower keep survives particularly well, retaining a number of architectural details from its original and rebuilt phases. As such it provides an important opportunity to study changing ideas in castle construction from the Conquest onwards. The site is well documented historically and its significance is enhanced by its well-attested royal associations.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes an earthen mound (motte) with its moat and surrounding courtyard (bailey), the upstanding remains of two different keep buildings, the curtain wall, gateway and the ruined residence within the bailey area. The earliest castle on the site was a motte and bailey type, with buildings and defensive palisade of wood. The motte was large, rising 7m above the surrounding land, and was surrounded by a deep defensive ditch. Around AD1100 the timber defences were at least partly replaced with stone. Parts of the near-circular shell keep which encircled the top of the motte survive, the highest standing to 6m. The shell keep was short-lived, for by 1173 it had been replaced by the tower keep building. This keep measures some 14m square and still stands 19m high. Its fireplaces and ornately carved stonework shows that it was used as a residence. It was partly rebuilt in the mid-13th century and in the early 17th century the keep was modified, largely using brick. The ruins of a number of buildings survive in the bailey area, including some masonry walls 7m high, which belong to apartments built in 1242 for the Sheriffs of Surrey. A royal palace was built within the castle grounds and was much used by Henry III. It is considered likely that the arched gateway and curtain wall date from this phase of building at the castle. Excluded from the scheduling are the metalling of all roads and paths, all modern walls, the buildings and service trenches at 1 and 3 Castle Hill, Quarry Hill House and Eleanor Court, the electricity sub-station, the fixed lighting equipment and the nearby garden buildings and park buildings. The ground beneath all these structures is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 12787

Legacy System: RSM


Leach, P.E., MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Motte & Bailey Castles, (1988)
Leach, PE, Monument Class Description - Tower keep castles, (1989)
Surrey Ant. 1664,

End of official listing