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Historic England Research Records

Pleshey Castle

Hob Uid: 376145
Location :
Essex
Chelmsford
Pleshey
Grid Ref : TL6653014370
Summary : Pleshey Castle is a good example of the Motte and Bailey type of earthwork with a well preserved town enclosure or Burgus attached. The castle is ascribed to the De Mandevilles in the 12th century. It consists of a steep oval-shaped mount surrounded by a wide moat, a strong inner bailey on the South, slight traces of another bailey to the North, and well-defined remains of the Town enclosure also to the North. Excavations have confirmed that the castle ditch was backfilled in 1157-8 on the orders of Henry II. In 1180 licence was granted to fortify the castle, it being the administrative centre of the de Mandeville estates. Pleshey remained part of the Mandeville estates until 1227-8 when it passed to the Bohun family by marriage. The castle remained the adminstrative centre of the estates until at least the early 16th century. A survey of the estate in 1558-9 found most of the buildings to be ruinous. These included a hall, domestic structures, timber gatehouse, a stone chapel, and brick bridge.
More information :
Centred at TL 66521447) Site of The Castle (NR) (1)

Pleshey Castle. A good example of the Mount and Bailey type of earthwork with a well preserved town enclosure or Burgus attached. The castle is ascribed to the De Mandevilles in the 12th century. It consists of a steep oval-shaped mount surrounded by a wide moat, a strong inner bailey on the S, slight traces of another bailey to the N, and well-defined remains of the Town enclosure also to the N. There are races of the flint rubble walls of the keep and fragments of brick foundations and later buildings. (2)

Pleshey Castle (name confirmed, is as described by authority 2 and the published guide.
Published survey 1:2500 revised. (3)

Full report on excavations on the chapel (TL61SE51) between 1959-1963. (4)

Additional references. (5-6)

Scheduled. (7)

(Centred at TL 66521447) The Mount (NR) (8)

The mount is oval in shape, 55' high from the water's edge, 280' x 295' at the base and 135' x 95' at the summit. The moat is 70' wide across the water at the widest part but is now dry on the S side. The original entrance from the S bailey to the mount was on the SW side, and is now marked by two parallel walls of flint rubble on the slope of the mount. (9)

The motte is as described by the RCHM. The flint walling is visible at the head of the entrance.
Published survey 25" revised. (10)



(Centred at: TL 66531437) The inner bailey to the S of the mount encloses about 2 1/4 acres and is defended by a strong inner rampart and moat, the latter now dry except on the S side and connected with the moat of the mount at both ends. The rampart is about 16' above the interior level at the strongest point and the ditch is 100' wide from crest to crest, and 37' deep from crest of rampart. At the SW corner is an original entrance having on the NW side a fragment of flint-rubble, and at the base a short length of faced rubble with a plinth. There is a second entrance, probably modern, at the SE.

Of the bailey to the N of the mount only a short length of rampart and ditch remains, running from the SE junction of the moats of the mount and inner bailey in a northerly direction to a slight bend in the road to Whitehall, where it veers round in a SE direction and crosses the main road E of Mount House. From this point the defences become stronger, the ditch being 45' wide from crest to crest and 11' deep from the top of the rampart, until they join the moat of the S bailey at the NE corner. (11)

The south bailey is generally as described by the RCHM. Ground disturbance has taken place due to recent excavations at TL 66551442 and the (later? 18th century) SE entrance has been re-filled. No trace of the flint walling survives at the SW entrance though the bailey ditch at this point is crossed by a
later causeway. The course of the supposed northern bailey is possibly marked by Back Lane, a sunken road running from TL 66451451 to TL 66601460, but no trace of any rampart survives. Earthworks of the original entrance to the inner bailey survive at TL 66611445. The isolated mound probably represents the pier of the entrance bridge. See interim report (a). (12)

TL 66451446. Observation by Essex County Council, Archaeology section on the S side of The Street located one side of the ditch of the north bailey of the castle, which had been previously deduced from the later street pattern but not accurately established. (13)

TL 665145. Observation of foundation trenches by M R Eddy and D G Buckley confirmed the existence of the infilled lower bailey ditch. (14)

TL 666144. A section across the earliest course of the ditch around the motte suggested it had been backfilled between 1157-58 as a result of Henry II's order. (15)

TL 665146. A watching brief by P Clarke for Essex County Council on foundation trenches revealed a naturally infilled ditch of wide V-shaped profile, running E-W parallel to Back Lane.
A sherd of 13th century pottery was recovered from a layer which partially sealed the ditch fills. This ditch is clearly not that of the north (original) bailey of the castle, which is now thought possibly to follow the south side of back lane. (16)

Additional references. (17-19)

The castle, long a possession of the Earls of Essex, was acquired by Henry V in 1420. Thereafter it formed part of the Duchy of Lancaster and was linked administratively with Hertford. Together with Hertford it was held by Queen Katherine from 1420-37, Queen Margaret from 1446-61 and by Queen Elizabeth from 1465-83. (20)

At the time of recording in 2011 online access to information relating to the designation (scheduling) indicated in source 7 is provided through the National Heritage List for England, including a map of the scheduled area. (21)

Source 22 represents a specialist article on medieval chimney technology, with particular reference to Pleshey Castle. Excavations at Pleshey Castle yielded evidence for medieval Chimey bricks that may indicate two types of chimneys. The finds are compared to those from "King John's Hunting Lodge" at Writtle. (22)

Sources 23-24 are online web resources on castles with entries for Plessey. Source 23, "The Gatehouse" website, gives the names that the site has also been known as or referred to in historical documents as: "The Mount", "Plaisy", "Plessy," "Pleasing", "Tumblestoun", "Castel de Placeto". (23-24)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1924
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 2
Source : An inventory of the historical monuments in Essex. Volume II: [central and south-west]
Source details :
Page(s) : 8
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 13
Source : Medieval archaeology : journal of the Society for Medieval Archaeology
Source details :
Page(s) : 235
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 21, 1977
Source Number : 14
Source : Medieval archaeology : journal of the Society for Medieval Archaeology
Source details :
Page(s) : 247
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Plates :
Vol(s) : 24, 1980
Source Number : 15
Source : Medieval archaeology : journal of the Society for Medieval Archaeology
Source details :
Page(s) : 183
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Plates :
Vol(s) : 26, 1982
Source Number : 16
Source : Medieval archaeology : journal of the Society for Medieval Archaeology
Source details :
Page(s) : 134
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Vol(s) : 30, 1986
Source Number : 17
Source : Essex archaeology and history : transactions of Essex Archaeological Society
Source details :
Page(s) : 176
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Vol(s) : 8, 1976
Source Number : 18
Source : Essex archaeology and history : transactions of Essex Archaeological Society
Source details :
Page(s) : 148
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Vol(s) : 17, 1986
Source Number : 19
Source : Essex archaeology and history news
Source details :
Page(s) : 15-16
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Vol(s) : 100, 1987
Source Number : 20
Source : The history of the King's Works, volume 2 : the Middle Ages
Source details :
Page(s) : 781
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Source Number : 21
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : English Heritage 2011 'English Heritage: The National Heritage List for England' <> [Accessed 29-JUL-2011]
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Source Number : 22
Source : Essex archaeology and history : transactions of Essex Archaeological Society
Source details : Article by NP Wickenden: 'A medieval octagonal chimney stack: evidence from Pleshey and Writtle'
Page(s) : 168-177
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Vol(s) : 32, 2001
Source Number : 3
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 PAS 30-OCT-75
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Source Number : 23
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : Philip Davis 2011. 'The Gatehouse Website: Pleshey Castle' <> last updated 25-JUN-2011 [Accessed 29-JUL-2011]
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Source Number : 24
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : Charles Taylor 1997-2011 'ecastles: fortifications of England and Wales: Plessey Castle' <> [Accessed 29-JUL-2011]
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Source Number : 4
Source : British Archaeological Report (BAR) British series
Source details : Pleshey Castle, Essex: excavations in the bailey, 1959-1963
Page(s) : 1-251
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Vol(s) : 42
Source Number : 5
Source : Essex archaeology and history : transactions of Essex Archaeological Society
Source details :
Page(s) : 17-22
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Vol(s) : 80, 1982
Source Number : 6
Source : Medieval Britain from the air
Source details :
Page(s) : 24-May
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Source Number : 7
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : Essex, Dec-1987, 7
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 9
Source : An inventory of the historical monuments in Essex. Volume II: [central and south-west]
Source details :
Page(s) : 201-2
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 10
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 PAS 30-Oct-1975
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 11A
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Rahtz PA, 1960, Pleshey Castle interim report, 8
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : 1100 to 1158
Monument End Date : 1158
Monument Start Date : 1100
Monument Type : Motte And Bailey, Moat, Keep, Castle
Evidence : Earthwork, Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Documented 1558-9
Monument End Date : 1559
Monument Start Date : 1558
Monument Type : Great Hall, Kitchen, Castle, Domestic Chapel
Evidence : Documentary Evidence, Earthwork

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : EX 22
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Unified Designation System UID
External Cross Reference Number : 1002191
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : TL 61 SE 45
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 376148
Relationship type :
Associated Monuments : 376161
Relationship type :

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, PLESHEY CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1907-01-01
End Date : 1907-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, PLESHEY CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1921-01-01
End Date : 1922-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, PLESHEY CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1959-01-01
End Date : 1963-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, MOUNT BRIDGE AND COMPTON FOLD
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1970-01-01
End Date : 1979-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, PLESHEY CASTLE APPROACH, (CABLE TRENCH)
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1970-01-01
End Date : 1979-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, PLESHEY CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1972-01-01
End Date : 1981-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON TL 61 SE 44
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1975-10-30
End Date : 1975-10-30
Associated Activities : Primary, PLESHEY CASTLE, (VILLAGE HALL SITE)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1987-01-01
End Date : 1987-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, PLESHEY CASTLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1993-01-01
End Date : 1993-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, PLESHEY CASTLE BRIDGE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1998-01-01
End Date : 1998-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, 'PLEACHFIELD', VICARAGE ROAD
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2010-01-01
End Date : 2010-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, LAND AT 'DEVAS', THE STREET
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2010-01-01
End Date : 2010-12-31