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Godards Castle, Thurnham

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Goddards; Thornham; Godworde; Turnham; Thorneham

In the civil parish of Thurnham.
In the historic county of Kent.
Modern Authority of Kent.
1974 county of Kent.
Medieval County of Kent.

OS Map Grid Reference: TQ80795816
Latitude 51.29386° Longitude 0.59163°

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

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Thurnham Castle survives well and exhibits a wide diversity of features such as the gatehouse and and stone built shell keep remains. It retains considerable potential for the recovery of evidence of the nature and duration of the use of the castle. The monument includes a motte and bailey castle and is situated on a spur of the North Downs above the Pilgrim's Way historic routeway. The motte takes the form of a generally steeply-sided conical mound 70m in diameter at the base with a flattened top 22m across. In a ring around the top of the motte are traces of a shell keep, with one 2.5m section of flint walling more prominent on the south-west side. On the western and northern sides the motte drops some 5m to a ditch, now largely infilled by eroded soil from the mound, which provided additional defence for the keep on the mound. This ditch, most clearly visible for 150m to the NW of the motte, measures between 5m and 9m in width and now reaches no more than 1m in depth. On the eastern and southern sides the land slopes less steeply and the foot of the motte is less clearly defined. The bailey area to the west of the motte is defined by a thick flint wall, much of which has been reduced to footings by robbing of the stone but which survives to an impressive 3.5m in height along the northern edge. Integral to this northern curtain wall, and beside the edge of the motte ditch, are the remains of a gatehouse 10m long by 5.5m wide with blocked Norman-style archways. The overall size of the bailey, as defined by the curtain wall, is 55m N-S by 35m E-W. Beyond the curtain wall the land drops sharply to the road on the western side. To the south, a quarry of uncertain date has undermined the boundary wall. The quarry is likely to have had its origins in providing the flint nodules for the building of the castle. (Scheduling Report)

Thurnham Castle motte and bailey, at 180 metres O.D., occupied the end of a short south-west spur on the crest of the South Downs, presenting extensive views over the Weald. A massive disused chalk quarry has encroached upon the southern perimeter of the motte, which is 70 metres across at the base and about 5 metres high. A much silted ditch is traceable around the north and west sides. The north-west part of the ditch extends for 147 metres, is 12 metres wide and 0.9 metres deep; the western part is 19 metres long, 0.3 metres deep, and reduced to 5 metres in width by slip from the mound. The top of the motte is 22 metres in diameter, of which 16 metres is a bowl shaped depression 1 metre to 2 metres deep with a further small hollow in the centre 1.5 metres deep; probably an excavation pit. At the edge of the top in the south-west quadrant there is a fragment of flint walling 2.5 metres long, 1.3 metres thick and 0.3 metres high. This may represent part of a shell keep. No other remains can be seen but the whole is densely overgrown. To the west of the motte a rectilinear ward or bailey, about 55 metres long (north to south) and 35 metres wide, had been constructed on a gentle south slope. At the north-east angle, near the edge of the motte ditch are the east and west walls of a gatehouse 10 metres long and 5.5 metres wide overall. Stripped of any facing stone the walling is of well mortared flint, up to 2.5 metres high and 0.9 metres thick. The east side is pierced by a subsidiary entrance gap with out-turned flanking foorings 1 metre long, but nothing to suggest that walling extended fully from gatehouse to keep. The the west of the gatehouse is the northern curtain wall, the best surviving structural remains at Thurnam Castle. It is 0.9 metres thick, 3.5 metres high and continues for 22 metres to the north-west corner of the bailey. From here only footings, mostly at ground level, form the west side fo the ward and saving one fragment the whole of the south side has been eroded by quarrying or subsequent slip. The remaining fragment is at the south-west angle a 6 metres length of flint masonry 0.4 metres above the ground level and a further 0.6 metres visible in the subsoil at the quarry edge. No traces of a ditch can be seen outside the north part of the bailey and on the west the footings follow the crest of a short but steep slope to a road that alters direction to confrom to the castle plan. There is no sign of an outer ward and it seem possible that Ditchfield (sic - actually Sands, 1907) was misled by the shape of the chalk quarry. Although the castle has been much robbed of its masonry, footings might be exposed if the site were cleared of the humus and undergrowth which masks it. (PastScape ref. F2 NVQ 16-OCT-86)
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:19:30

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