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HER Number:MDV6131
Name:Gidleigh Castle


A fortified tower house comprising a two-storey keep-like structure with substantial 2 metre thick walls. It has an undercroft below and a chamber above. The architectural style of the building suggests it was built circa 1300.


Grid Reference:SX 670 884
Map Sheet:SX68NE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishGidleigh
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishGIDLEIGH

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX68NE/17
  • Old Listed Building Ref (I)
  • Old SAM County Ref: 135

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CASTLE (Built, XIII - 1300 AD to 1300 AD?)
  • TOWER HOUSE (Built, XIII - 1300 AD to 1300 AD?)

Full description

Ordnance Survey, SX68NE19 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV275400.

Parker, J., 1859, Untitled Source, 354 (Monograph). SDV275385.

An interesting structure which appears to have been a fortified tower house. No trace of subsidiary buildings. Detail closely resembles that in the later part of Okehampton Castle. Early 14th century. Remains of 14th century. The lower chamber has a barrel vault with square ribs, and there are two old staircases.

Ordnance Survey, 1868, Untitled Source, 93 (Unknown). SDV275384.

There are ruins of a castle which stood here in the reign of Henry III.

Ordnance Survey, 1906, 89NE (Cartographic). SDV275412.

Amery, J. S. + Worth, R. H., 1925, Gidleigh Castle, 268-271 (Article in Serial). SDV275382.

Gidleigh Castle. Fortified manor house. Keep cellar 6.6 metres long, 3.9 metres wide; solar 6.8 metres long, 4.1 metres wide; walls 1.9 metres thick. Only tiny keep remains. Late 13th-14th century. Stone from same quarry as used at Okehampton - sandy magnesium limestone. Same mason probably built both. Keep consists of cellar and solar. Low pitch roof, probably lead covered. Cellar has pointed vault supported by three arched ribs. One small window in the north end of the east wall. Entrance door on the south. Narrow stair way in thickness of the wall leads to the solar, lit by narrow slit window in south wall and wider window in the west wall opposite solar door. Solar door is square-headed, with chamfered lintel and jambs. Another entrance to solar by a stone newel staircase in a turret on the east side, which formerly extended to the roof. Lit by slit windows, one cruciform. Solar has fire- place with arched head and corbels, possibly for a hood. Windows in east and south walls. North wall abutted on to other apartments, slight traces remain. It contains a doorway, 0.61 metres wide, jambs and lintel chamfered. Doors have sockets in the stonework for bolts and recesses and sockets for wooden bars. Masonry of round waterworn stone and small boulders. Foundations undercut by modern construction. Turret stairway ruined, walls cracked, entrance arch has fallen, stair newel collapsed, east wall partly fallen, one of two buttresses remain.

Hughes, G. W. G., 1947, Gidleigh, 102 (Article in Serial). SDV273922.

Erected in 1316 by Sir William Prowse. Present ruins show no trace of an earlier castle. Many details identical with Okehampton Castle.

Department of Environment, 1960, Okehampton RD, 13 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV275388.

An appraisal of the present state of the structure was made by the Department of the Environment. At present it is covered in vegetation, and suffering from water penetration. Copy of report in parish file.

English Heritage, 1963, Gidleigh Castle (remains of) (Schedule Document). SDV350053.

Ancient Monuments, 1963, Untitled Source (Site Visit). SDV275386.

Remains of castle. Square tower with barrel vaulted ground floor circa 1300. Two stairs, the external turret now badly decayed, footings of a narrow range extend northwards. Castle has been restored at various dates, mainly in 1925. Now roofed in soft wood which has decayed.

DCRA, 1976, Untitled Source (Unknown). SDV275387.

Neglect of an ancient monument - derelict nature of this medieval tower-house. Grants for restoration work possibly available.

Worth, R. H., 1979, Church geology, 169 (Article in Serial). SDV275389.

Sandstone from Cleave, Hatherleigh, used in building.

Higham, R. A., 1979, The Castles of Medieval Devon, 53 (Post-Graduate Thesis). SDV336189.

First floor hall-house with thick walls. Probably circa 1300.

Robinson, R., 1982, Untitled Source (Site Visit). SDV275390.

Griffith, F. M., 1986, DAP/GW, 12, 13 (Aerial Photograph). SDV253850.

Gallant, L., 1986, Deer Parks and Paddocks of England (Un-published). SDV656.

Department of Environment, 1987, Gidleigh, 147 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV275393.

Keep tower, the only standing remains of a castle built circa 1300 by the Prouze family. Granite stone rubble laid to rough courses with open putlog holes and large roughly-shaped quoins, ashlar detail of hard sandy magnesium limestone. Plan: square in plan there is an undercroft and first floor hall. It is built on a slope facing downhill to the east-south-east, say east. Entrance on left (south) side and stairs in the thickness of the wall round the south-west corner. Second stair, a stone newel, projecting forward from left end of front. Disused fireplace serving the hall in centre of front wall. The hall is no longer roofed and the newel stair turret has partly collapsed.

Higham, R. A., 1988, Devon Castles: An Annotated List, 145 (Article in Serial). SDV341278.

Department of Environment, 1991, Untitled Source (Correspondence). SDV275394.

Schedule Monument Consent granted for excavation of base of buttress front elevation and of modern material from undercroft floor.

Blaylock, S. R., 1993, Gidleigh Castle: A Survey of the Standing Remains, 1991-2 (Report - Survey). SDV275396.

A survey of the structure was carried out in 1991 by EMAFU in advance of consolidation work. There was originally a two cell stone structure here of which only the S part remains standing. This is a rectangular structure 10.6 x 8m externally, with walls up to 2m thick, the vaulted undercroft has its own entrance and an intramural staircase connects it to the room (possibly the hall) above. The external stair turret provided the principal access to the first floor room, which has a fireplace, 2 windows and door to the now missing N cell. The northern cell was 7.9 x 5.5m and was perhaps a solar. Construction date probably 1278-1316, repairs and alterations were carried out between 1925 and 1965.

Nenk, B. S. + Margeson, S. + Hurley, M., 1993, Medieval Britain and Ireland 1992, 255 (Article in Serial). SDV275415.

Department of National Heritage, 1994, Untitled Source (Correspondence). SDV275395.

Schedule Monument Consent granted for removal of modern material.

Griffiths, D. M., 1995, Untitled Source (Personal Comment). SDV275397.

A 3 year programme of consolidation was carried out between 1991 and 1994, initiated by Dartmoor National Park and part funded by Dartmoor National Park and English Heritage.

Higham, R. A. + Freeman, J. P., 1996, Devon Castles (Draft Text), Gazetteer (Monograph). SDV354350.

The remains of a medieval stone structure, perhaps best described as a strong house. It was built on a platform cut into the slope so that the ground level to the west is level with its first floor, thus greatly reducing is defensive capabilities. A survey carried out in 1991-2 suggested no other medieval buildings apart from the surviving structur, which appears, on architectural grounds, to date to about 1300. It comprisies a two storey keep-like structure, 10 by 8 metres with 2 metre thick walls with an undercroft below and a chamber above. This was reached by an external stair turret which as now collapsed and a small interior stair in the thickness of the wall.

Grumley-Grennan, T. + Hardy, M., 2000, Gidleigh. A Dartmoor Village Past and Present, 29-34 (Monograph). SDV359347.

On the site of the original 11th century settlement, the castle may have been the earliest stone building erected. It was built by Sir William Prouz, around 1295; the same stone masons who carried out the work were also working for the Courtenays in Okehampton. Built as a 'Hall house', rather than defensive castle and was more extensive than the present remains; there were several stone rooms on the north-west side and the rest was probably of timber and wattle. Once included a tower at the front which fell down in the 1920s.
Details of ownership included. In 1638, castle was sold to Bartholomew Gidley who left the castle (likely unoccupied for most of the previous centuries, and in a state of dereliction) standing and built a new house nearby, using some of the stone from the castle; Castle House. Succession of owners followed over the following centuries.

Blaylock, S. R., 2003, Gidleigh Castle: An Assessment of the Fabric of the Stair Turret, 2003 (Report - Assessment). SDV350056.

Assessment to provide an overview and analysis of the stair turret area of the east elevation of the Gidleigh Castle building. This includes an account of the surviving original fabric, the phasing and details of the masonry, search for pictorial sources, and considerations of the impact of reinstatement works. An outline proposal concerns the reinstatement of access to the first floor allowing sufficient height to provide a safe parapet. This would involve the removal of the mid 20th century masonry.

Bradley, J. + Gaimster, M., 2004, Medieval Britain and Ireland in 2003, 254 (Article in Serial). SDV342122.

Gidleigh Castle. Assessment of the fabric of the stair turret on the main façade of this small defended dwelling of approximately 1300 was carried out by Exeter Archaeology for the owners.

Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 2005, Untitled Source (Correspondence). SDV321441.

Scheduled Monument Consent granted for works concerning the repair of broken steps and replacement of missing treads in the stair turret, the removal of early-mid 20th century masonry at the top of the surviving turret, and rebuilding, incorporating the cruciform window. This is provided that the conditions recommended by English Heritage are adhered to.

Ordnance Survey, 2012, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV348725.

Building shown on modern mapping.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV253850Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1986. DAP/GW. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 12, 13.
SDV273922Article in Serial: Hughes, G. W. G.. 1947. Gidleigh. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 79. Unknown. 102.
SDV275382Article in Serial: Amery, J. S. + Worth, R. H.. 1925. Gidleigh Castle. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 57. 268-271.
SDV275384Unknown: Ordnance Survey. 1868. National Gazetteer. 2. 93.
SDV275385Monograph: Parker, J.. 1859. Some Account of Domestic Architecture in England. Unknown. 354.
SDV275386Site Visit: Ancient Monuments. 1963.
SDV275387Unknown: DCRA. 1976. DCRA Development File. 7.
SDV275388List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1960. Okehampton RD. Historic Houses Register. Unknown. 13.
SDV275389Article in Serial: Worth, R. H.. 1979. Church geology. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 111. A5 Paperback. 169.
SDV275390Site Visit: Robinson, R.. 1982. Field Monument Warden Visit.
SDV275393List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1987. Gidleigh. Historic Houses Register. 147.
SDV275394Correspondence: Department of Environment. 1991. Scheduled Monument Consent Letter.
SDV275395Correspondence: Department of National Heritage. 1994. Scheduled Monument Consent Letter.
SDV275396Report - Survey: Blaylock, S. R.. 1993. Gidleigh Castle: A Survey of the Standing Remains, 1991-2. Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit Report. 93.19. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV275397Personal Comment: Griffiths, D. M.. 1995.
SDV275400Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey. SX68NE19.
SDV275412Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1906. 89NE. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 6 inch Map. Map (Paper).
SDV275415Article in Serial: Nenk, B. S. + Margeson, S. + Hurley, M.. 1993. Medieval Britain and Ireland 1992. Medieval Archaeology. 37. Unknown. 255.
SDV321441Correspondence: Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 2005. Scheduled Monument Consent Letter.
SDV336189Post-Graduate Thesis: Higham, R. A.. 1979. The Castles of Medieval Devon. University of Exeter Thesis. Unknown. 53.
SDV341278Article in Serial: Higham, R. A.. 1988. Devon Castles: An Annotated List. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 46. Paperback Volume. 145.
SDV342122Article in Serial: Bradley, J. + Gaimster, M.. 2004. Medieval Britain and Ireland in 2003. Medieval Archaeology. 48. Unknown. 254.
SDV348725Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2012. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #96773 ]
SDV350053Schedule Document: English Heritage. 1963. Gidleigh Castle (remains of). 135. A4 Unbound.
SDV350056Report - Assessment: Blaylock, S. R.. 2003. Gidleigh Castle: An Assessment of the Fabric of the Stair Turret, 2003. Exeter Archaeology Report. 03.43. A4 Bound + Digital.
SDV354350Monograph: Higham, R. A. + Freeman, J. P.. 1996. Devon Castles (Draft Text). Devon Castles. A4 Unbound + Digital. Gazetteer.
SDV359347Monograph: Grumley-Grennan, T. + Hardy, M.. 2000. Gidleigh. A Dartmoor Village Past and Present. Gidleigh. A Dartmoor Village Past and Present. Hardback Volume. 29-34.
SDV656Un-published: Gallant, L.. 1986. Deer Parks and Paddocks of England. Deer Parks and Paddocks of England. Manuscript.

Associated Monuments

MDV6132Parent of: Cross in garden of Castle, Gidleigh (Monument)
MDV114061Parent of: Farm building east of Castle, Gidleigh (Building)
MDV15151Parent of: Farm building north of Castle, Gidleigh (Building)
MDV113181Related to: Gidleigh Barton Farm (Monument)
MDV6112Related to: Gidleigh Barton Farmhouse (Castle House), Gidleigh (Building)
MDV114030Related to: Gidleigh Cottage, Gidleigh (Building)
MDV14326Related to: Okehampton Castle (Building)
MDV64338Related to: PARK in the Parish of Gidleigh (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV1230 - Gidleigh Castle
  • EDV1231 - Gidleigh
  • EDV1232 - National Gazetteer
  • EDV1269 - Unnamed Event
  • EDV1270 - Unnamed Event
  • EDV1271 - Unnamed Event
  • EDV1272 - Field Monument Warden Visit
  • EDV1273 - Field Monument Warden Visit
  • EDV6022 - Gidleigh Castle: A Survey of the Standing Remains, 1991-2 (Ref: 93.19)
  • EDV6023 - Gidleigh Castle: An Assessment of the Fabric of the Stair Turret, 2003 (Ref: 03.xx)

Date Last Edited:Aug 23 2018 3:45PM