Holme Castle, a Saxon and Medieval manor, is supposed to have been destroyed in the early 13th Century. The site was probably on Holme Hill, above the Vineyards where masonry and foundations were visible in 1836. Traces of a ditch are still visible. Scheduled.
The ditched feature published by the OS is described as the remains of Md Fishponds, probably belonging to the Abbey of Tewkesbury by Rigold. Bennett says that the Vineyard was probably a quarry for building material (OS map annotation: Bennett).
The ditched feature shown, and variously described as 'Holme Castle (site of) and 'Fish Ponds', by the OS is on low lying ground and has been almost completely overlaid by a large refuse heap. The present remains are insufficient to determine whether the feature was a moated site as suggested by earlier OS plans, or Fish Ponds as stated by Rigold.
A stone erected in 1932 on higher ground to the south west (at SO 89163208) is said to mark the site of Holme Castle. It bears an inscription stating that the castle was burnt down in 1140, afterwards rebuilt, and finally destroyed in the early 14th c. It is possible that 'The Vineyards' is yet another reference to the ditched enclosure. There seems to be no other feature to which the OS name can be applied although Tewkesbury Abbey has a vineyard. In the Abbey's Records there is a reference to one tun of wine from Tewkesbury vineyard being sold to the king in 1238 (F1 ANK 12-MAY-66).
Tewkesbury was one of the principal residences of the Earls of Gloucester, and passed to King John after his marriage to Isabella, Countess of Gloucester, until her remarriage in 1214. He stayed there on many occasions during his reign and it was frequently repaired on his orders. Holm Castle was certainly fortified, as brattices are mentioned in connection with it. The site was levelled and backfilled in 1826 by a 'utilitarian banker'. It was probably a few hundred yards SE of the Abbey church, possibly referring to the position shown as "Fish Ponds" on the OS plan (HKW).
Leland describes the castle ruins as standing on Holm Hill, by the bank of the River Swilgate at its junction with the Avon and SW of the abbey; Col Blyth suggests that the only place fitting Leland's description is the top of Holm Hill to the west of Holm hospital. He also mentions a 14th century kitchener's account for work done on the weir across the Swilgate, which supplied water for the fish ponds (Blyth).
SO 887321. Excavations at Holm (Windmill) Hill (see plans) in 1974 and 1975, prior to Council development, revealed the plan of a 13th century stone built hall underlying which was a 12th century stone hall and beneath this the pits and post-holes of a possibly late Saxon or early Norman timber hall. Scraping exposed and destroyed the foundations of numerous stone buildings associated with the 12th and 13th century halls including what were judged to be a chapel, dovecote, gatehouse, guest apartments, together with an area of barns, stables, furnaces and refuse dumps. These halls probably represent the site of 'Holme Castle' the manor of the Earls of Gloucester. Within the area were revealed a Bronze Age penannular enclosure 11.5m in diameter and a linear ditch 42.0m long, with an entrance 3.0m wide at its mid-point. In association with the linear feature was a pit containing fragments of a vessel of very shelly fabric and with a rim of Beaker affinities, together with a small animal interment. Flints including a barbed and tanged arrowhead were found in the plough soil (Hannan 1975 and 1976).
The Medieval fishponds or moated site noted above, are visible as earthworks on historic aerial photographs but subsequently have been levelled. They extend over an area that is centred at SO 8936 3216 and comprise a linear drainage channel that forms an incomplete rectilinear circuit around two parallel rectilinear ponds that are orientated north/south. A further roughly rectilinear pond with two circular islands is situated immediately to the west. The pattern of inter-connected ponds corresponds more closely with a system of fishponds rather than a moated site. (PastScape)
The castle was sited between the town and a large deer park, which was later the site of the battle of Tewkesbury (1471). Blyth argued the ruins of the castle were used in 1471 by the Lancastrian forces as a strongpoint, although this is contested. (see English Heritage Battlefield Report: Tewkesbury 1471
. The original siting of the castle on a hill top probably had more to do with giving views to and from the park and town than any 'defensive' consideration and this castle, as is true of many castles, was a domestic high status house with pleasure pursuits as a principle rasion d'être.
However, such a primary use does not exclude fortification and garrisoning in times of insecurity.