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Name:Motte and Bailey at Homme (Ham) Castle, Clifton-on-Teme
HER Reference:WSM00284
Type of record:Monument
Grid Reference:SO 734 619
Map Sheet:SO76SW
Parish:Clifton upon Teme, Malvern Hills, Worcestershire

Monument Types

  • CASTLE (MEDIEVAL - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • MOTTE AND BAILEY (MEDIEVAL - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)

Protected Status

  • Scheduled Monument

Full description

Ham Castle Farm, in the north-east of the parish, near the Teme, is on the site of the ancient Ham Castle (also known as Homme Castle or Home Castle), which, from its commanding position, must at one time have been a stronghold of importance. Historically, little is known of this castle, which is mentioned for the first time in 1207. It evidently belonged to the owners of the manor of Ham, but seems to have been forfeited for some reason by one of them and given with many of their other estates by King John to Thomas de Galweya. Thomas was ordered in 1207 to deliver the castle (castellum) to William de Cauntelow to keep during the King's pleasure. No other direct reference to it has been found. It evidently followed the descent of the manor, but in 1275 and a hundred years later the dwelling at Ham is returned as a capital messuage. A stronghold of some kind seems, however, to have survived. The house was partly burnt in 1605, and greatly injured during the Civil War. Tradition says it was besieged and much damaged by the Parliamentary army, whose cannon balls were long preserved here. A cannon ball which was dug up on the bank opposite Ham Castle is now in the possession of the vicar. The diary of Mistress Joyce Jeffreys, who took refuge there from the Parliamentary forces, contains various entries of fees paid for burying and digging up trunks and other property, according to the movements of the enemy. This upon one occasion seems to have led to the discovery by William Jeffreys, then owner of Ham Castle, of a chest containing 'gold and silver and other kind of mettalls,' buried in some longforgotten earlier alarm. The vault in which this chest was found was in the middle of 'an ancient fort made in the fashion of a half moon.' From this diary it appears that General Gilbert Gerrard, Governor of Worcester, came to Ham Castle on 12 July 1645 and left the next day. Habington describes Ham Castle as 'now ruinated.' The 17th-century house which replaced the castle was burnt to the ground in 1887. The dates 1677 and 1680 with the Jeffreys arms on the hopper heads of the rain-water pipes in the large half-timbered mansion of Ham Castle, then destroyed, showed that rebuilding was done in those years by Henry Jeffreys. Though much defaced and altered before its final disappearance, the old house retained traces of ancient stateliness in its massive staircase, the oak bookshelves of the old library in the roof, and its beautiful garden terraces. On 1 March 1680 Henry Jeffreys paid 15s. hearth tax for fifteen hearths in his house at Ham Castle. The ruins at Ham Castle were reserved in a lease of 1759, and the castle is mentioned in conveyances of the manor in 1805 and 1810. [1][2]

Parts of a double moat fed from a spring and the river, which at one time appears to have extended round the castle, can still be traced. [3]

Large mound, 3 metres high, surrounded by a raised, 1 metre high, platform, on the south. Bailey ploughed, mound untouched. Earlier site of Ham Castle, dating to the 13th century. The monument is in a field with a considerable slope from north to south. The motte is very large and could well have a rock outcrop as its original core. It appears high on the south, where the bailey is the lowest. The motte is oval, the north west to south east being the narrowest points, though depressions in the sides at these points could exaggerate the affect. It is flat on top, with no apparent footings. Some stones are showing in places. [4]

The monument is in a field with a considerable slope from north to south. The motte is very large and could well have a rock outcrop as its original core. It appears highest on the south where the bailey is the lowest. The motte is oval, the north-west to southeast being the narrowest points, though depressions in the sides at these points could exaggerate the affect. It is flat on top, with no apparent footings, and covered by grass and weed. The weed has been burnt off on north and south. Some stones are showing in places. There is little slippage. A platform appears to run right round the motte though it is wider on the south. The bailey is formed almost by a continuation of the motte slope on south-west, which is steep. The bailey north to west is flatter, but east to north ground rises steeply. Bailey on north is at its highest and motte this side is only about 2m above the bailey. On east there is shelving at the base of the motte, and the bottom "step" has a cut of about one foot depth from the unploughed motte to the ploughed bailey. The margin left by the plough is 2-3ft round parts of the motte but on south-west and south several cuts from the plough have gone into the grass and it is possible that, as there is no clear line, the ploughing could be advancing up-the slope. There is a rabbit burrow at the base of the motte on north-west. The bailey is ploughed to a depth of 6 to 9 inches in a rotation with pasture for cattle/sheep. [5][6]

List of sites in Clifton on Teme, from prehistoric to industrial, by Bond, J. [7]

The Historic England Scheduling for this monument was the subject of Minor Ammendment on 20 May 2015. This monument includes a motte and bailey castle with a large enclosure known as Ham Castle situated on the western side of the River Terne. The monument survives as a motte mound with a surrounding platform and quarry ditch, together with a second large rectangular enclosure. The motte covers an oval area of 56m by 40m. It is up to 4m high, with a flat 25m by 16m platform at the top. The platform surrounding the motte is approximately 1m high and extends approximately 10m around the bottom of the motte and is widest at the southern edge. The quarry ditch surrounds the platform. A larger second enclosure is located to the north west of the motte. Exposed stonework visible in places represents the remnants of walling which survives elsewhere as buried remains. Ham Castle was mentioned for the first time in 1207 when the castle was forfeited by the owners of the manor of Ham and given to Thomas de Galweya. Thomas was ordered in 1207 to deliver the castle to William de Cauntelow. A chest containing gold and silver was found here during the 17th century. The motte and bailey castle known as Ham Castle survives comparatively well. The motte and platform will contain important archaeological layers and features. [8]

Photographs taken during pre Farm Environment Plan site visit in 2009. [9]

Sources and further reading

<1*>Bibliographic reference: Page, W. 1924. A History of the County of Worcestershire; Volume IV. Victoria County History. 246.
<2*>Graphic material: Aston M. 1970. Mick Aston's notes on Ham Castle. Mick Aston Archive.
<3>Personal Comment: Boldrini N. 2001. Comments on Setting Up the Record. Historic Environment and Archaeology Service.
<4*>Scheduling record: English Heritage. 1986. Schedule for Motte and Bailey, Ham Castle. English Heritage.
<5*>Scheduling record: Dept of Environment. 1974. Schedule Update for Motte and Bailey, Ham Castle. Dept of Environment.
<6*>Unpublished document: English Heritage. Unknown. MPP: Single Monument Class Description Motte and Bailey Castles.. English Heritage.
<7*>List: Bond, C. J.. Unknown. List of sites in the Parish of Clifton upon Teme.
<8>Digital archive: English Heritage. Reg updates. THE NATIONAL HERITAGE LIST FOR ENGLAND. English Heritage.
<9>Photograph: Hathaway, E. 2009. Photographs of buildings and earthworks at Homme Castle Farm, Clifton upon Teme.