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Membury Chapel Meadow

In the civil parish of Ramsbury.
In the historic county of Wiltshire.
Modern Authority of Wiltshire.
1974 county of Wiltshire.
Medieval County of Wiltshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SU30357499
Latitude 51.47306° Longitude -1.56436°

Membury Chapel Meadow has been described as a Masonry Castle although is doubtful that it was such, and also as a certain Fortified Manor House.

There are no visible remains.


A roughly rectangular univallate earthwork enclosing 2 acres,about 150 yds south-east of Membury Fort (VCH 1957).
Excavation by Grimes in 1941 revealed within the enclosure a complex of buildings. The earliest resembled in plan a small 12th century keep. Over the ruins of this lay a house of normal plan, perhaps 13th century, with later additions. There was also a chapel. The defences were entirely of earth except that one round tower had been built into the bank. Signs of early Roman occupation were found under the Medieval site (Grimes 1948).
A disused airfield occupies this site and the perimeter track covers the eastern half of the earthwork. It seems unlikely that anything remains (Ordnance Survey SS Reviser June 1965).
The eastern half of the earthwork is overlaid by an airfield perimeter track. The western half, in arable, is so denuded that only amorphous irregularities survive.
The situation, on a plateau with no natural defence suggests a fortified manorial site rather than a 12th century castle (F1 NVQ 12-JUL-72). (PastScape)

In the Middle Ages a castle and a manor house, remains of which have been excavated, stood at Membury south of Membury fort. Their site may have been deserted in the late 13th century. There was a chapel, and possibly a hamlet, at Membury in the Middle Ages.
Jocelin de Bohun, bishop of Salisbury 1142–84, granted land at MEMBURY, presumably part of Ramsbury manor until then, to Everard of Hurst, to whom he may have granted Hilldrop. After Everard's death Bishop Bohun conveyed it to Everard's son Roger. The grant to Roger was confirmed by the king in 1175 and by Bishop Herbert Poore in 1196. Gerard of Membury seems to have held the land in the 1220s and Sir Peter of Membury did so in the 1240s and 1250s when it was rated as 1 knight's fee. Between 1256 and 1262 Peter gave the manor of Membury to Giles of Bridport, bishop of Salisbury, in exchange for a life interest in the bishop's demesne land in Baydon. (VCH 1983)

Rejected as castle site by Creighton but accepted as fortified manorial site.
The location next to the Iron Age hillfort Membury Castle certainly would make this an indefensible site in regard to warfare although Norman V. Quinell's comment regarding natural defences seems weak as a reason to dismiss any castle site. However this lost manor house, with its small C12 tower and C13 round tower (or dovecot) is best described as a fortified manor house.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:08

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