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Mamhead 'castle'

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
The Brewery

In the civil parish of Mamhead.
In the historic county of Devon.
Modern Authority of Devon.
1974 county of Devon.

OS Map Grid Reference: SX929812
Latitude 50.62015° Longitude -3.51400°

Mamhead 'castle' has been described as a Masonry Castle although is doubtful that it was such, and also as a Fortified Manor House although is doubtful that it was such.

There are no visible remains.

This is a Grade 2* listed building protected by law*.

Description

Whether the sham castle is built on ancient foundations is not sure, but unlikely, as there have been three houses of three distinct periods called Mamhead house. Whether a medieval castle stood where the sham castle now stands is not ascertained but it would have been an impossible place to defend (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card).
Mamhead House. Neo Tudor French plasterwork by John Willement around 1832 on site of alleged medieval castle. Immediately behind Mamhead House on the foundation of a genuine medieval castle, are outbuildings in the form of a sham castle, copied from Belsay, Northumberland (Pevsner).
In 1822 the old 17th century house was demolished to build new house (Baldwin). (Devon and Dartmoor HER)

Mamhead House, an Elizabethan manor house, was demolished and rebuilt by Sir Peter Ball (1598-1680). This mansion was completed by his son before 1718. Thomas Ball, who succeeded to the estate in 1718. planted the grounds with exotic trees brought back from foreign journeys. The estate was bought by Mr Newman in 1823. He completely rebuilt the present house on a new site in 1830 to the designs of Salvin. The tree planted to mark the original site of Mamhead House was still in existence in 1953. (PastScape)

Pevsner writes that this C19 folly is 'on the foundations of a genuine medieval castle'. Higham writes there is no evidence for this.

Close to the site of Mamhead DMV in landscaped parkland. It seems entirely probable that Mamhead House was built on the site of a medieval manor house of some status but there is nothing to suggest this medieval house was fortified although that possibility can not be entirely dismissed. However, the castle name seems to be of relatively recent date and possibly represents part of a constructed 'ancient' high status history done in parallel to Salvin's building of a copy of a north country tower house.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape   County HER       Listing   I. O. E.
Maps >
OS getamap   Streetmap   Old-Maps   Where's the path   NLS maps  
Data/Maps > 
Magic   V. O. B.   Geology   EarthTools   GeoHack  
Air Photos > 
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Photos >
CastleFacts   Geograph   Flickr   Panoramio      

Sources of information, references and further reading
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The author and compiler of Gatehouse does not receive any income from the site and funds it himself. The information within this site is provided freely for educational purposes only.
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.
Minor archaeological investigations, such as watching brief reports, and some other 'grey' literature is most likely to be held by H.E.R.s but is often poorly referenced and is unlikely to be recorded here, or elsewhere, but some suggestions can be found here.
The possible site or monument is represented on maps as a point location. This is a guide only. It should be noted that OS grid references defines an area, not a point location. In practice this means the actual center of the site or monument may often, but not always, be to the North East of the point shown. Locations derived from OS grid references and from latitude longitiude may differ by a small distance.
Further information on mapping and location 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 Sunday, October 19, 2014

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