Norman motte and bailey castle with sub-rectangular village enclosure. It was probably built by Richard de Lucy in the 12th century, (mention is made of the castle in 1157), but the keep was demolished in the 16th century and replaced by a brick building which in turn was demolished in the 18th century. The plan consists of a flat-topped mount with encircling moat, an inner bailey, a weaker enclosure to the north and east, and the town-enclosure to the west. Fragments of rubble remain on the motte and flanking an axial gap in the bailey bank, some Roman brick being contained in it. (E.H.)
The motte is now covered with trees and is in private ownership, but can be seen from a public footpath that starts at the north end of the High Street.
A town in the S.W. of the county, on the E. side of which, on the N.E. of the church, is a high and vast artificial mound surrounded by a broad and deep moat, and this, .with other considerable works, formed the fortress (built probably temp. Henry I.), remains of which are yet to be seen. Since Roman relics have been dug up here, it has been thought that the site was originally one that was occupied at that period. At the Domesday Survey the place was held by Eustace, Count of Boulogne, through whose granddaughter Maud, the Queen of Stephen, it came into the hands of the Crown, in the same way as Pleshy. Their son, William, Earl of Mortain and Surrey, gave it to Richard de Lucy, Lord Chief Justice of England in 1162, the lord of Diss, Norfolk, who obtained its erection into an honour and built the castle. When Henry II. was carrying out his raid against the castles, adulterine and others, he took this one from Lucy, but it was afterwards restored, and came to his daughter Roesia, married to Fulbert de Dover, lord of Chilham Castle, Kent (q.v.) His son Richard appears to have taken his mother’s name of Lucy, and in 1242 the manor was owned by Maud de Lucy, who, as a Royal ward, had been betrothed by King John in 1213 to Richard de Rivers, from whose descendant John it passed to Sir John de Sutton, and was from him conveyed to Ralph, Lord Stafford. And so it passed, with other estates, through the Staffords, Dukes of Buckingham, to the time of Richard III., who, after the slaughter of the second duke, confiscated the property. In 1541 Henry VIII. granted it to George Harper, who sold it two years after to William Morice, in whose family it continued for a long period. During Elizabeth’s reign the owner, William Morice, pulled down the old castle, and built instead a brick mansion of three storeys outside the moat. This house, in its turn, was destroyed in 1744.. From the Morices the manor came by marriage and by purchase to a variety of proprietors, being now owned by Lady Jane H. Swinburne.
In 1881 some excavations on the site discovered four massive flint arches and a large block of masonry which probably supported by a post a flooring above ; but only a mere fragment of stonework remains above ground. Some Norman relics, a spur, and a Saxon spearhead were dug up. (Castles Of England, Sir James D. Mackenzie, 1896)
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