Court Castle


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016226

Date first listed: 23-Jun-1938

Date of most recent amendment: 08-Dec-1997


Ordnance survey map of Court Castle
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Devon

District: Torridge (District Authority)

Parish: Winkleigh

National Grid Reference: SS 63339 08221


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

Reasons for Designation

Motte and bailey 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-bailey 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 and bailey 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 or motte-and-bailey castles are recorded nationally, with examples known from most regions. 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of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

Despite limited damage to the bailey in particular, Court Castle survives well and contains archaeological information relating to Norman military activity in this part of Devon. The monument also forms a notable landscape feature within the village of Winkleigh. The proximity of this castle to another in the village is an unusual feature.


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


The monument includes a medieval motte and bailey castle situated at the eastern end of the village of Winkleigh on a ridge overlooking the valley of the Bullow Brook to the south. The monument is one of two earthwork castles in the village. The second, Croft Castle, lies to the west and is the subject of a separate scheduling. The monument survives as an oval-shaped, flat-topped motte with a rectangular mound on its north eastern corner, a ditch which is well defined to the north and west of the motte, but which survives as a buried feature elsewhere, and a D-shaped bailey which has been incorporated into the gardens of the nearby Winkleigh Court. The motte, which is oval in shape, measures 92m long from north to south and 67m wide from east to west at its base. It ranges in height from 1.8m on the north western side to 10.1m on the south eastern side. The flattened top of the mound measures 62m long from north to south and 45.2m wide from east to west. In the north eastern quadrant there is a rectangular mound which may represent the original height of the motte. This measures 21.5m long from east to west, 16m wide from north to south at its base and is 2.2m high. The ditch surrounding the mound is evident to the north and east, where it measures up to 15m wide and 1.7m deep, with a 2m wide flat bottom. The layout of the road to the south of the motte follows the original line of the ditch, but does not cut it. On the eastern side of the motte the B3220 runs from north to south and crosses the ditch and part of the bailey. However, the road surface does not cut into the ditch, or those parts of the bailey which are effected by it. The motte and bailey once formed part of extensive formal gardens attached to Winkleigh Court. During the 18th century a brick-built banqueting house was erected on the summit of the motte. This is located in the centre of the mound and is square in plan externally, measuring 5.9m across and 6m high. The walls are 0.65m thick. The bailey lies to the south east of the mound. It is partly overlain by the B3220 and its verges and has become fossilised within the layout of the formal gardens of Winkleigh Court. A D-shaped level area measuring 50m long from north to south and 44.3m wide from east to west, defined by a scarp of up to 1.6m high, lies directly to the south of the present 18th century house. Further remains of the bailey, possibly up to half, now lie beneath the present house. A drive which gives access to the property may overlie the original line of the outer ditch surrounding the bailey. The motte and bailey are thought to date to the late 11th or early 12th centuries, when William II passed the land to Robert Fitz Roy, later the Earl of Gloucester. The area was held by Matilda during the Civil War. During the 12th century the manor was split. Court Castle became the property of the Keynes family until the 16th century. The manor was sold in 1550 to George Escott of Chawleigh, passed to George Broughton of Studley, and in 1638 was sold to Thomas Lethbridge of Jacobstowe. During this period the present house at Winkleigh Court and the banqueting tower were erected. Winkleigh Court remained with the Lethbridge family until 1821, when it was sold to Reverend George Johnson. Winkleigh Court, Castle Cottage (both Listed Grade II) and Castle House are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these buildings 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: 30302

Legacy System: RSM


Robert, S., Court Castle, Winkleigh, Devon. A new survey by the RCHME, (1992)

End of official listing