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Malmesbury Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Malmesbir'; Malmesbiria

In the civil parish of Malmesbury.
In the historic county of Wiltshire.
Modern Authority of Wiltshire.
1974 county of Wiltshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: ST93228734
Latitude 51.58488° Longitude -2.09924°

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

There are masonry footings remains.

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

Description

The castle, probably a motte, built by Roger, Bishop of Salisbury, in 1118 was recorded as being 'not a stone's throw away from the Abbey', although by 1977 its site had not yet been verified by excavation. Documentary research shows it to have occupied the site of the cloisters and the area northwest of the Abbey, in the grounds of the Bell Hotel (for details of the history of that building , please see ST 98 NW30). The castle was involved in the wars of King Stephen and Mathilda: it was taken three times in 1139, when King Stephen captured it, lost it in a suprise move by Robert fitz Hugh, and recaptured by Stephen shortly afterwards. In 1144 it was beseiged by Robert Earl of Gloucester, who constructed three seige castles around it (see ST 98 NW 20). In 1153 it was taken by Henry, Duke of Normandy. Twenty pounds were spent on the castle walls in 1173-4, but in 1216 the monks were given permission to dispose of the site after it had been abandoned by King John. Some remains may still have existed in 1643, when there was a Royalist garrison in Malmesbury. (PastScape)
Castle at Malmesbury, built by Roger, Bishop of Salisbury, in 1118, 'not a stone's throw away from the Abbey'. Its site has not yet been verified by excavation, but although Brakspear places it east of the Abbey, documentary research shows it to have occupied the site of the cloisters and the area to the northwest of the Abbey, in the grounds of the present Bell Hotel (formerly the Castle Hotel), which is said to contain Medieval features. This places it at the narrowest part of the promontory occupied by the town, and is the only possible location for a castle built to subjugate the Abbey and town. Twenty pounds was spent on the castle walls in 1173-4, but in 1216 the monks were given permission to dispose of the site and buildings as they wished. Some remains may still have existed in 1643 however, when there was a Royalist garrison in Malmesbury (Haslam and Edwards; Renn; Pevsner)
Listed as a vanished castle by Cathcart King. A castle was founded at Malmesbury in the early 12th century. It was taken three times in 1139 when King Stephen captured it, lost it in a surprise move by Robert fitz Hubert, and recaptured by Stephen shortly afterwards. In 1144 it was besieged by Robert, Earl of Gloucester who constructed three siege castles around it. In 1153 it was taken by Henry, Duke of Normandy. In 1215 it was abandoned by King John, at which time the abbot of Malmesbury was castellan. The monks were given leave to destroy it (King). (PastScape)

The remains of the castle, believed to have stood immediately to the northwest of the abbey, have completely disappeared. The only excavation on the site, in 1988, revealed no evidence of its existence (Anon 1990). (Urban Survey Malmesbury)
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape   County HER   Scheduling   Listing   I. O. E.
Maps >
OS getamap   Streetmap   Old-Maps   Where's the path   NLS maps  
Data/Maps > 
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Photos >
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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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.
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*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 on Wednesday, July 2, 2014

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