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Historic England Research Records

Devizes Castle

Hob Uid: 216161
Location :
Wiltshire
Devizes
Grid Ref : SU0023861323
Summary : Neo Norman/Gothic castle and gatehouse built from 1842 with additions of 1860-80. Built on the motte of a castle first mentioned in 1106. The first castle was burnt down in 1113 and was replaced by a stone structure circa 1123. When visted by Leland circa 1540 much of the castle had fallen into ruin though the keep probably survived, for in 1645 the castle was held by the Royalists.
More information : (SU 00226132) Castle (LB) (rems of) (TI). (1)

Devizes Castle occupies a small promontory which is believed to have been occupied in prehistoric and Roman times. It was first mentioned in 1106. Then there was a wooden keep and a stockaded earthen rampart with an entrance in the N. side. Beyond this, on the NE side, was an outer bailey defended by a bank and ditch of possible I.A. date. It extended from the keep, around Castle Grounds, to the back of the Bear Hotel. In the middle of Castle Lane was a gateway.
In 1113 the castle was burnt down and was replaced by a stone structure ten years later. When visited by Leland c.1540 much of the castle had fallen into ruin though the keep probably survived, for in 1645 the castle was held by the Royalists.

The remains now consist mainly of foundations and bases of walls. The keep is in line with the curtain wall on the opposite side of the bailey from the gatehouse, while the hall, principal chambers and domestic offices are grouped in ranges nearby but distinct from the keep. Foundations of the hall show that it was a large building, divided by arcades into a nave and two aisles. (2-4)

Devizes Castle consists of a large motte surrounded by a dry moat. There is no longer any trace of a bailey nor is there any evidence of pre-Norman occupation of the site. The foundations of the keep, together with those of other buildings can be seen in the gardens of the present 19th c.castle.
Published survey (1/2500) revised. (5)

Devizes Castle including Glass House and Garden Walls encircling west side of mound. The original castle built by Bishop Roger of Salisbury in reign of Henry I has virtually disappeared. It was partly in ruins in the C16, but finally destroyed at the end of the Civil Wars by Order of Parliament. The site is a magnificent one with a great mound and moat. The mound falls steeply on 3 sides towards the undulating ground to the south-west. The rich parklands of the Old Park form with the castle mound a fine piece of landscape, which should always be preserved. The plan of the town in the form of a fan with the Castle as the centre of the segment, seems to be too formal to be a haphazard growth. It is reasonably certain that the town grew after the building of the Castle, and it would be interesting to know how far the plan was dictated by the Bishopric of Salisbury, so closely connected with the Castle itself, as occurred at a slightly later date in the case of Salisbury city.

The existing structure was begun in 1842 by Goodridge of Bath fior the Leach family. Highly asymmetrical. The ashlar faced keep and turret to the south are Goodridge with paired lights divided by colonettes in narrow openings. The rest to the north is a massive rock faced enlargement of 1860's, 70's and 80's. Crenellated parapet, buttresses, superimposed bays, oriel windows and large mullioned and transomed windows. The north tower however, is partly of C17 brick and was originally a windmill. It's rubble base may be part of the original castle. Around the north tower's base, facing west, is a bowed fernery with stone tiled roof, round interlaced arches forming pointed lights with Norman style shafts dividing. Adjoining the fernery to the north is a fine glass house with octagonal base and a stepped domical roof with crowning finial. The entrances are to the east and west: wooden gables with ornamented bargeboards supported by flanking paired colonettes with foliate capitals, on high pedestals.

A terrace surrounds the castle with a battlemented parapet. On the west side towards the centre are 2 short setions of arcaded wall, one incorporating in arch some original Norman stone work of zig zag pattern. The interior of the castle is designed in a mixture of neo-Norman, Gothic and C16 styles. The drawing room and bedroom in the northern section facing west have the partly original frames of C16 or early C17 ceilings inserted with carved and gilded bosses, small brackets and ribs, the whole completed in plaster. Scheduled AM.


Gate House of Devizes Castle. Grade II. Dating from the later phase of the present castle's expansion, circa 1860 rock faced gate house. Large round tower and lower square tower flanking gateway with machicollated crenellated parapets. The double grid pattern timber gates are set in a large Norman archway, flanked by heavy shafts with cushion capitals. Above the arch linking the towers a deeply machicollated parapet with zig zag, the centre merlon stepped up with coat of arms. To the town front there are only slit windows but facing the castle, the round tower has small deeply recessed Norman windows and 3 larger ones with leaded casements, the ground floor one with double gabled dripmould, the others with arched dripmoulds. Round headed doorway with dripmould decorated with lion head at crown. The square tower has 1 similar small 1st floor window and similar doorway on ground floor, the door with diamond battens and diamond light. Picturesque.

Walls encircling top of Castle Mound. Extensive rock faced, partly crenellated, walls encircle castle mound and sunken garden. There are several Norman arched gateways under gables with pierced openings.

Remains of original Castle. Grade II. In the sunken garden, to the west of present castle buildings, part of the foundations of the original keep are visible. (6)

The castle building and motte are clearly visible on vertical aerial photographs of the area. (7)

Listed by Cathcart King. (8)

Originally founded by Bishop Osmund of Salisbury between 1078-1099, the castle passed to royal hands when it was siezed by King Stephen from Bishop Bigod in 1139. Even then it was described as one of the finest and strongest castles in England. It remained a royal stronghold, but its upkeep was always burdensome. From 1299, it passed to the Queen as a possession, and thereafter remained a dower possession for successive queens. By the early 16th century it was severely decayed, and was ordered to be demolished in the Civil War. (9)

The castle, as it appears today, is a Victorian folly, standing on the motte of the original castle. Site (not castle) scheduled. (10)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" Prov.Ed.
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : The Wiltshire archaeological and natural history magazine
Source details : EH Stone
Page(s) : 417-29
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 40 - 1917
Source Number :
Source : SU 06 SW 19 (1968)
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 3
Source : Journal of the British Archaeological Association
Source details : WHButcher
Page(s) : 129-63
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 24 - 1918
Source Number : 4
Source : The castles of Great Britain
Source details :
Page(s) : 81,157
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 5
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 JP 17-JUL-68
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 6
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : DOE(HHR)Borough of Devizes, Wilts, Sept 1972, 1-2
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 7
Source : Oblique aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR SU 0061/39-41 (4848/08-10) 31-AUG-1993
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 8
Source : Castellarium anglicanum : an index and bibliography of the castles in England, Wales and the Islands. Volume II : Norfolk-Yorkshire and the islands
Source details :
Page(s) : 498
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 2
Source Number : 9
Source : The history of the King's Works, volume 2 : the Middle Ages
Source details :
Page(s) : 626-8
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 10
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : 02-Feb-05
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Built 1106
Monument End Date : 1106
Monument Start Date : 1106
Monument Type : Motte And Bailey, Keep
Evidence : Earthwork, Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Medieval from 1106
Monument End Date : 1540
Monument Start Date : 1106
Monument Type : Bridge, Barbican, Keep, Prison
Evidence : Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Keep replaced 1123
Monument End Date : 1123
Monument Start Date : 1123
Monument Type : Keep
Evidence : Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : From 1152
Monument End Date : 1540
Monument Start Date : 1152
Monument Type : Royal Palace, Dower House
Evidence : Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : First mentioned 1236-1237
Monument End Date : 1237
Monument Start Date : 1236
Monument Type : Aisled Hall House
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit, Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Repaired 1240
Monument End Date : 1240
Monument Start Date : 1240
Monument Type : Curtain Wall
Evidence : Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Slighted 1646-1648
Monument End Date : 1648
Monument Start Date : 1646
Monument Type : Castle
Evidence : Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Entirely rebuilt 1842
Monument End Date : 1842
Monument Start Date : 1842
Monument Type : Great House, Gatehouse
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Built 1860
Monument End Date : 1860
Monument Start Date : 1860
Monument Type : Gatehouse
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Victorian
Display Date : Victorian
Monument End Date : 1901
Monument Start Date : 1837
Monument Type : Folly, Curtain Wall
Evidence : Extant Building, Structure

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 28887
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 310461
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 431448
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SU 06 SW 19
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 538104
Relationship type :

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SU 06 SW 19
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1968-07-17
End Date : 1968-07-17
Associated Activities : Primary, ESCOURT HILL, DEVIZES
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1991-01-01
End Date : 1991-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, CORN EXCHANGE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1994-01-01
End Date : 1994-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, CASTLE LANE
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1995-01-01
End Date : 1995-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, CASTLE LANE
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1995-01-01
End Date : 1995-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, OLD JOINERY WORKS, VALES LANE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1996-01-01
End Date : 1996-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, OLD JOINERY WORKS, VALES LANE
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1996-01-01
End Date : 1996-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, OLD JOINERY WORKS, VALES LANE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1997-01-01
End Date : 1997-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, RCHME: AVEBURY WORLD HERITAGE SITE PROJECT
Activity type : FIELD SURVEY
Start Date : 1997-08-01
End Date : 1998-12-01
Associated Activities : Primary, NORTHGATE SITE, DEVIZES
Activity type : DESK BASED ASSESSMENT
Start Date : 2001-01-01
End Date : 2001-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, PROPOSED NORTHGATE DEVELOPMENT
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2004-01-01
End Date : 2004-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, WEST CENTRAL CAR PARK
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2006-01-01
End Date : 2007-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, FORMER SALVATION ARMY CITADEL, STATION ROAD
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2006-01-01
End Date : 2006-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, LAND AT 26 NORTHGATE GARDENS
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2018-01-01
End Date : 2018-12-31