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Winchcombe Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Winchcomb; Ivy Castle; Winchelcomam

In the civil parish of Winchcombe.
In the historic county of Gloucestershire.
Modern Authority of Gloucestershire.
1974 county of Gloucestershire.
Medieval County of Gloucestershire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SP023281
Latitude 51.95139° Longitude -1.96793°

Winchcombe Castle has been described as a certain Timber Castle, and also as a Masonry Castle although is doubtful that it was such.

There are no visible remains.


There was formerly a fortress or Castle "right again the south syde" of St Peter's Church "caullyd of latar dayes (as apperithe by writyngs in Winchelescombe Abbey), Ivy-Castelle, now a place where a few poore housys be and gardines" (Leland).
According to Mrs Dent the Castle was in existence in or before temps Henry II and was in Cole Street. "Ivy Castle" applied to a tenement in Mill Lane (SP 023 281). The last prior of Winchcombe also told Leland that there had reputedly been a castle to the east or north-east of the town.
Listed by Cathcart King, it appears to have been adulterine, constructed 1140-44. (PastScape)

Roger, earl of Hereford, threw up a motte and bailey at Winchcombe in 1144: the castle was said to rise steeply on a very high mound. It did not last long against royalist attack. Before the end of the year, royalist forces breached the outer defences and with great courage scaled the motte and captured it. (Walker 1991)

His rex animadversis, sano suorum adquievit consilio, omnique expeditione sub festinatione ab illis locis dimotam ad Winchelcomam, ubi Rogerius, novus ille Herefordensis comes, castellum adversus sibi consentientes erexerat, improvisè devenit, reperiensque castellum vallo eminentissimo in praeceps devexum, insuperabili munitione undique circumcinctum, sed pacis as resistendum impositis (diffugerant enim subitum illius, et insperatum audientes adventum) validiores quosque armis se instruere, ad castellum expungnandum se vivacissimè aptare praecepit, istis sagittis spissim emittendis insistere, illis, reptando vallum conscendere, omnibus autem impigrè in circuitu discurantibus, quaecumque ad mans occurrerent intus jaculari.
Dum igitur rex cum suis tam vivè, tam validè in capiendo castello desudaret, effrenem tantorum impetum, qui se interiùs recluserant, minimè sufferentes, datis tandem dextris castellum reddiderunt. (Sewell edition of Gesta Stephani )

Winchcombe was a major town of Mercia, the centre of it own county Winchcombeshire, and the site of a C8 mitred Benedictine abbey. The 'castle' to the east of the town is probably a reference to supposed palace of King Coenwulf (Kenulph), the Mercian king who is said to have founded in abbey in 763. The town had lost much of its importance by the C12 although, by no means, was it insignificant. The site of the Mercian palace was abbey lands by the C12 and Roger of Hereford's castle, which may have been a motte from the unusual full description in the Gesta Stephani, was built south of the church. However, it may well also have made use of the Anglo-Saxon communal burgal defences, particularly if it was quickly built, and these may have been the 'high steep sloping rampart' ( vallo eminentissimo in praeceps devexum ). The name 'Ivy Castle' suggest an ivy covered masonry ruin. Leland's account may confabulate different buildings. Gatehouse suspects 'Ivy Castle' was a ruined building of Winchcombe Abbey, possibly a precinct gatehouse which may have been crenellated and particularly 'castle-like' if it was built in association with the licence to crenellate granted to the Abbey in 1373.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:10

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