The comprehensive gazetteer and bibliography of the medieval castles, fortifications and palaces of England, Wales, the Islands.
The listings
Other Info
Print Page 
Next Record 
Previous Record 
Back to list 

Hedingham Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Hengham; Hedningham; Heningham; Henham; Haingeham; Hingeham

In the civil parish of Castle Hedingham.
In the historic county of Essex.
Modern Authority of Essex.
1974 county of Essex.
Medieval County of Essex.

OS Map Grid Reference: TL787358
Latitude 51.99248° Longitude 0.60152°

Hedingham Castle has been described as a certain Timber Castle, and also as a certain Masonry Castle.

There are major building remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.


Hedingham Castle was the main seat of the Earls of Oxford. It is a large earthen ringwork castle with two baileys and was probably built in the late C11/early C12 by Aubrey de Vere who was granted the land by William I during the Norman Conquest. The large central mound was evidently the main focus of the castle, with the smaller, inner, bailey to the east and the larger, outer, bailey to the west. The entrance to the inner bailey is lost, possibly beneath the C18 Hedingham Castle House. The outer bailey quickly went out of use as the town grew. The magnificent and sophisticated keep was built around the middle of C12, at the height of the Anarchy, and may have been constructed to mark the elevation of the de Veres to the earldom of Oxford (an honour granted by Queen Matilda). Other buildings would also have existed, though no sign of these remain today. Around the castle three hunting parks were created; Great Park, Castle Park and Little Park. The 13th Earl of Oxford was instrumental in the accession of Henry VII, and it was he who was responsible for an ambitious building programme at Hedingham at the end of C15, when all of the earlier stone buildings other than the keep and a gatehouse (now gone) were replaced by brick towers and apartment ranges covering most of the castle mound; slight earthworks mark the positions of some of these buildings. The most notable of these was the Great Brick Tower, an ornate 'donjon' overlooking the town of Castle Hedingham; the foundations of the stair turrets of this tower remain. The Tudor bridge (recently restored) and Tennis Court also date to this phase of the history of the castle. The castle was surveyed in 1592 by Israel Armyse, but many of the buildings appear to have been razed to the ground by the early C17, by which time it had ceased to be the seat of the Earls of Oxford. The earthworks at Hedingham Castle were surveyed by the Royal Commission in October and November 1995 following a request from English Heritage. (RCHME, 1995)

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 58ft x 53ft. Four storeys. The walls have an average thickness at ground floor level of 11ft tapering to 10ft. Height approximately 70ft with two remaing turrets at north west and south east corners with heights varying between approximately 15ft to 25ft. 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 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. 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. The castle ranks among the most important Norman buildings in the country if not northern Europe. (Listed buildings report)

"The noble C12 tower of Hedingham Castle has been the subject of artists' pencils and antiquaries' pens, but the great fosse and ramparts have seldom, if ever, been depicted or described." (Gould, 1903) Not recorded in King's list of Ringworks of 1966 and not recorded as a timber castle in earlier version of this database (before Jan 2011).
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape   County HER   Scheduling   Listing   I. O. E.
Maps >
Streetmap   NLS maps   Where's the path   Old-Maps      
Data/Maps > 
Magic   V. O. B.   Geology   LiDAR   Open Domesday  
Air Photos > 
Bing Maps   Google Maps   Getmapping   ZoomEarth      
Photos >
CastleFacts   Geograph   Flickr   Panoramio      

Sources of information, references and further reading
Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.
It is an offence to disturb a Scheduled Monument without consent. It is a destruction of everyone's heritage to remove archaeological evidence from ANY site without proper recording and reporting.
Don't use metal detectors on historic sites without authorisation.
The information on this web page may be derived from information compiled by and/or copyright of Historic England, County Historic Environment Records and other individuals and organisations. It may also contain information licensed under the Open Government Licence. All the sources given should be consulted to identify the original copyright holder and permission obtained from them before use of the information on this site for commercial purposes.
The author and compiler of Gatehouse does not receive any income from the site and funds it himself. The information within this site is provided freely for educational purposes only.
The bibliography owes much to various bibliographies produced by John Kenyon for the Council for British Archaeology, the Castle Studies Group and others.
Suggestions for finding online and/or hard copies of bibliographical sources can be seen at this link.
Minor archaeological investigations, such as watching brief reports, and some other 'grey' literature is most likely to be held by H.E.R.s but is often poorly referenced and is unlikely to be recorded here, or elsewhere, but some suggestions can be found here.
The possible site or monument is represented on maps as a point location. This is a guide only. It should be noted that OS grid references defines an area, not a point location. In practice this means the actual center of the site or monument may often, but not always, be to the North East of the point shown. Locations derived from OS grid references and from latitude longitiude may differ by a small distance.
Further information on mapping and location can be seen at this link.
Please help to make this as useful a resource as possible by contacting Gatehouse if you see errors, can add information or have suggestions for improvements in functality and design.
Help is acknowledged.
*The listed building may not be the actual medieval building, but a building on the site of, or incorporating fragments of, the described site.
This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:19:30

Home | Books | Links | Fortifications and Castles | Other Information | Help | Downloads | Author Information | Contact