Hedingham Castle

Essex, England

City/Town/Village: Castle Hedingham
District: Braintree
County: Essex
Latitude/Longitude: 51.9925, 0.601434
Postcode: CO9 3DJ
(postcode is for sat-nav purposes only, and may not represent the actual address of the castle)


Privately Owned

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Hedingham Castle is a stone ringwork and bailey fortress, founded by Aubrey de Vere, earl of Oxford. The impressive Norman keep stands in the middle of a large strong site.

Hedingham Castle is a Listed Building. Here's what the official description says about it:

8/1 Hedingham Castle
7 8 52

Castle Keep circa 1130-1140. Built for Aubrey De Vere and reputedly designed
by William De Corbeuil, Archbishop of Canterbury. Of flint rubble faced
throughout with Barnack stone. C20 wooden floors and lead roof. Of square
plan 58 feet x 53 feet. Four storeys. The walls have an average thickness
at ground floor level of 11 feet tapering to 10 feet. Height approximately
70 feet with two remaing turrets at north west and south east corners with
heights varying between approximately 15 feet to 25 feet. The remains of the
north west rectangular fore-building of basement height now of flint rubble
formerly stone faced with stone steps approaching the entrance door from south
to north. The keep walls have a battered base below the chamfered plinth,
this base continues around the wide, flat corner pilaster buttresses, with
smaller flat central pilasters springing from the plinth. Putlog holes remain
in all walls and there are gabled, semi-circular and straight keying channels
from previous buildings. Each elevation has a similar window range. Basement
with two narrow loops with chamfered jambs and very deep internal splays, second
storey with two narrow windows with moulded semi-circular heads, shafted jambs
with moulded bases, scalloped capitals and chamfered abaci, excepting the west
front with only one window. Third storey has a similar lower range of windows,
but a wider upper range of two pairs of coupled windows with similar detail.
Top storey has two elaborate windows with shafted jambs, moulded bases,
scalloped capitals, moulded abaci and semi-circular arches of two orders, the
outer with carved chevrons, the inner curved and plain. Angle pilaster
buttresses with loops and small semi-circular headed windows. North west
turret, south and east walls, plain windows with semi-circular heads, north wall
with a later rough opening. South east turret, north wall with similar original
window and later windows to other walls of C19/20 brick. On the west front
the basement windows are blocked by the fore building. The entrance doorway
with semi-circular arch of two orders, the plain inner order with portcullis
groove, the outer with chevron ornament, jambs with attached shafts with moulded
and carved bases and scalloped capitals with moulded abaci. Over the archway
are keying channels for the former roofs of fore-building and staircase porch.
Interior. In the north east corner a garderobe runs the full height of the
building whilst the spiral staircase occupies the north west corner. The
central stone newel has a 21 inch diameter and steps 5 feet 2 inches wide,
originally stone, now brick. Basement. A C19 brick partition wall forms two
main chambers. There are small chambers within the wall to south east and south
west. Stair turret entrance renewed with brick. First Floor. The original
east-west central plain segmental arch with the centre now missing has moulded
abaci to plain pilaster jambs. The entrance doorway jamb angles are shafted
and have moulded and carved bases, scalloped capitals with moulded abaci and
the semi-circular arch is of the same section as the jambs. There is a long
hole for a draw bar in the south jamb. All window recesses with moulded semi-
circular arches, shafted jambs with scalloped capitals and moulded bases. North
east corner in the thickness of the wall is an entrance passage with groined
vaulting to garderobe. Centre of south wall with original fireplace consisting
of a segmental recess which has shafted jambs with moulded base, scalloped
capital and moulded abaci ornamented with billet pattern. The semi-circular
arch is moulded and enriched with chevron ornament. The segmental back of
fireplace is of brick 1 3/8" thick. The flue is short and cone-shaped and smoke
outlets were rectangular openings each side of the centre buttress. Small
chambers within the wall to north-east and west also to south east and south
west angles. These chambers are barrel vaulted and entered through doorways
in the window recesses. Doorways with plain or rebated jambs and semi-circular
arches. Second Floor or Hall. Of two storeys. It is spanned by probably the
largest Norman arch in Europe. Richly moulded and semi-circular it springs
from shafted pilasters with moulded and beaded bases, scalloped capitals with
moulded abaci. Central to east and west walls. All window recesses with angle
shafts with moulded bases and scalloped capitals, some enriched with Bead
ornament, the semi-circular arches with rich zig-zag moulding. The abaci of
the capitals continue as a string course along the south wall and over the arch
of the fireplace. The splays of the original windows have angle shafts, capital
and abaci with arches over similar to the recesses. In the centre of the south
wall is an original fireplace similar to that on the first floor but with
slightly different capital detail. Entrance archway from stair turret with
continuous roll moulding. In north east, south east and south west angles of
the rood are shafts with moulded bases and scalloped capitals, which originally
supported ceiling wall plates. Some corbels also remain. Small recess next
to garderobe in north east corner, with groined vault to entrance passage.
Similar chambers in thickness of wall as to first floor. The chamber
immediately above the entrance formed the Portcullis Chamber. The upper storey
formed the Hall Gallery. There is a continuous passage in the thickness of the
walls. The south gallery entrance has double shafted jambs continued in a semi-
circular arch, the shafts of the jambs enriched with spiral bands of bead
ornament. The north gallery entrance has shafted jambs with moulded bases,
scalloped capitals and moulded abaci, semi-circular arches of the same section
as jambs. On each side, opening into hall are two arches, similar in detail
to the north entrance, the passages have barrel-vaults intersecting at the
angles. Top Floor window recesses are plain with semi-circular soffits. Holes
for the original shutter hinges remain and shutter slots in soffits. There is a
recess in the centre of each wall with a plain semi-circular head and a smaller
recess at north of east wall. North east, south east and south west angles with
small chambers in wall thickness entered from window recesses as on other
floors. The Castle Keep is situated in the middle of the inner bailey which
originally had a curtain wall and wall connected to the outer bailey by a bridge
qv 8/2. The Great Hall and other buildings were to the south west, most of
which including the bridge were rebuilt C15/C16 and were probably destroyed
C17/C18. Some material being re-used circa 1718-19 when the present house was
rebuilt in the outer bailey to the north east qv 8/4. The castle ranks among
the most important Norman buildings in the country if not northern Europe and is
scheduled as an Ancient Monument. RCHM 3.

Listing NGR: TL7870635868

Information from British Listed Buildings

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