Cheveley Castle, 350m north west of Old Hall Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015199

Date first listed: 17-Mar-1926

Date of most recent amendment: 19-Nov-1996


Ordnance survey map of Cheveley Castle, 350m north west of Old Hall Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Cambridgeshire

District: East Cambridgeshire (District Authority)

Parish: Cheveley

National Grid Reference: TL 67876 61313


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

Reasons for Designation

Motte castles are medieval fortifications 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. Motte castles and motte-and-bai1ey castles acted as garrison forts during offensive military operations, as strongholds, and, in many cases, as aristocratic residences and as centres of local or royal administration. Built in towns, villages and open countryside, motte castles generally occupied strategic positions dominating their immediate locality and, as a result, are the most visually impressive monuments of the early post-Conquest period surviving in the modern landscape. Over 600 motte castles and motte-and-bailey castles are recorded nationally, with examples known from most regions. Some 100-150 examples do not have baileys and are classified as motte castles. As one of a restricted range of recognised early post-Conquest monuments, they are particularly important for the study of Norman Britain and the development of the feudal system. Although many were occupied for only a short period of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

Cheveley Castle is the only Edwardian castle in Cambridgeshire and is one of very few castles in the county to demonstrate evidence of stone construction. Despite the demolition and robbing, the foundations of the walls, the drawbridge and three of the corner turrets are believed to survive substantially intact providing a complete plan of the curtain wall. The platform or ward will retain buried evidence for the structures and other features relating to occupation within the wall, and the silts within the surrounding ditch will contain both artefacts and environmental evidence from this period. The elaborate character of this small castle together with its apparent lack of a military function and association with the documented deer park is particularly significant, providing an insight into the means by which the achievement of wealth and status could be expressed by individuals, other than noblemen, in the later medieval period.

The tradition of constructing ice houses in England is thought to have begun in the late 17th century and to have reached a peak of popularity in the 18th and 19th centuries when numerous examples were built to serve the increasing number of large country houses. Used to maintain a consistent supply of ice for domestic and medicinal purposes, these chambers (usually constructed from brick or stone) were frequently partly or completely buried in order to ensure adequate insulation. The source of the ice was a major consideration in the location of such structures, early examples of which were often situated on the margins of estates where the ice could be collected from shallow ponds. The popularity of the ice house declined in the late 19th century as improved transport made imported ice more readily available. The practice was finally discontinued in the early 20th century as their function was gradually superseded by the development of artificial means of refrigeration. About 2,500 ice houses are thought to survive nationally, many of which exist in considerable states of disrepair. Intact examples which retain evidence of their function and reflect the domestic arrangements of the houses to which they were attached are considered to be of national importance. The ice house at Chevely Castle is thought to have been built to serve the country house of Cheveley Park, located some 800m to the south west. It survives substantially complete and accompanied by both a well and pond which are believed to have been related to its use.


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


The monument includes a small rectangular enclosure castle and an 18th or early 19th century ice house constructed in one corner of the castle, located in Cheveley Park some 350m north east of Old Hall Farm. The castle is sited in a locally elevated position which, in the absence of the beech copse now surrounding the monument, would have provided broad views over the surrounding countryside. The castle building stood on a rectangular platform which measures some 45m north west to south east by 38m, and is surrounded by a formidable V-shaped moat. The moat, which was probably always dry, ranges from 20m to 25m in width and between 5m and 6m in depth. The considerable quantity of upcast from its construction must have been removed from the site as the island platform is only raised by about 1m above the level of its surroundings. The platform, or ward, was enclosed by a curtain wall of bonded flint rubble, perhaps with dressed stonework for architectural details. Fragments of the coarse stone foundations still remain visible, partly buried in a slight bank along the edges of the two longer sides, and slight rounded protrusions at the four corners clearly indicate the position of corner turrets. Three of the corner turrets are marked by rounded depressions within these projections, and the lower course around the outer wall of the eastern turret can still be seen. The surface of the platform is generally level showing no signs of collapsed building materials or wall foundations. It is thought that it originally contained a variety of timber structures, including the lord's main hall and other buildings such as a chapel, kitchens, store rooms and accommodation for guests and retainers, some of which were probably set against the inner face of the curtain wall. The ward has not been excavated or significantly disturbed, and the buried remains of these buildings are considered to survive well. Access to the interior was provided by a drawbridge across the centre of the north western arm of the moat. This has since been replaced by a causeway, although the rubble foundations for the bridge supports remain standing to heights of about 1.5m to either side of the causeway where it abutts the platform.

The castle is thought to have been built by Sir John de Pulteney, financier and four times Mayor of London, who was granted a licence to crenellate the dwelling place of his manor in Cheveley in 1341. The resulting structure, which is the only Edwardian castle in Cambridgeshire, is more likely to have served as a mark of Pulteney's status than as a military stronghold, and to have provided a prestigious hunting lodge as the centre piece of a deer park established shortly thereafter. The duration of the castle's use is unknown, although the general absence of collapsed rubble in the ditch or on the island clearly shows that it was eventually dismantled and robbed for stone. The site of the northern corner turret was later used for an ice house, built in the late 18th or 19th century. The brick-lined chamber is cylindrical, measuring 2.5m in width and 4.5m from the domed ceiling to the floor. Two thirds of the chamber lie below ground level, and the remaining third is covered by an earthen mound, 8m in diameter, and raised approximately 1m above the dome to provide insulation. The chamber is entered through the north side of the mound via a barrel vaulted brick-lined passageway which has been sealed with an iron grille. A brick lined well shaft located near the centre of the south western edge of the island is believed to be contemporary with the ice house, and may have been used to draw water for a small adjacent pond from which some of the ice stored here could have been collected.

The iron grilles, which seal the icehouse, are excluded from the scheduling.

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: 27187

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Cambridgeshire, (1937), 24-5
The Victoria History of the County of Cambridgeshire, (1939), 73
Taylor, A, Castles of Cambridgeshire, (1990), 18
Field visit notes, Way, T, 1763 Cheveley Castle (parish file), (1993)
FMW report, Paterson, H, AM107 Cheveley Castle, (1991)
Taylor, A, 1763 Cheveley Castle, (1990)

End of official listing