Stogursey: Castle

Pages 136-137

A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 6, Andersfield, Cannington, and North Petherton Hundreds (Bridgwater and Neighbouring Parishes). Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1992.

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Although there is no known record of the building until 1204, (fn. 1) Stogursey castle was presumably in 1166 the caput of the honor, including more than 27 knights' fees, of William (III) de Curci, lord of Stogursey. (fn. 2) On William's death in 1171 the honor passed to his infant son William (IV) who took possession in 1189 and died without issue in 1194. (fn. 3) His sister and heir Alice had married Warin FitzGerold, who forfeited the honor before his death in 1216. (fn. 4) In that year the Crown ordered the destruction of the castle, (fn. 5) which therefore may have been excluded from the grant of Stogursey manor (fn. 6) in the same year to Fawkes de Breauté, husband of Margaret, Alice's daughter by Warin. Fawkes's rebellion led to the siege of the castle, which in 1224 the constable was ordered to deliver to the sheriff. (fn. 7) Half the honor, including Stogursey, was claimed for Joan, Alice's daughter by Henry of Cornhill; by 1228 Joan's husband Hugh de Neville of Essex (d. 1234) was in possession of Stogursey lands (fn. 8) and in 1233 the Crown ordered him to fortify the castle. (fn. 9) His son and heir John died in 1246 leaving a son Hugh who came of age in 1256, forfeited his lands for rebellion, and died childless in 1269. He had been pardoned but in 1266 surrendered Stogursey, which the Crown granted to Robert Walerand (d. c. 1273). Robert's nephew and namesake was both a minor and an idiot, (fn. 10) and the Crown made temporary grants of Stogursey to Ames of Savoy, Thomas Button, archdeacon of Wells, and Queen Eleanor until 1297 or later. (fn. 11)

When Robert Walerand died c. 1301 the Crown was in possession of Stogursey castle and borough, and the Crown retained control since Robert's brother and heir John was also an idiot. (fn. 12) In 1308 the king granted custody to Robert (III) FitzPayn of Poorstock (Dors.), and in the following year, on John's death, Robert retained the estate which, by the time of his death in 1315, he held in chief. (fn. 13) Robert (IV) FitzPayn, Lord FitzPayn, son of the last, died in 1354 leaving a widow Ela (d. 1356) and a daughter Isable. The estate passed on Ela's death to Robert's nephew Robert Grey of Codnor (Essex), who assumed the name FitzPayn. (fn. 14) His daughter and heir Isabel (d. 1394) married Richard Poynings, Lord Poynings (d. 1387), and Isabel's son Robert, Lord Poynings (d. 1446), was succeeded by his granddaughter Eleanor, daughter of Richard Poynings and wife of Henry Percy, later earl of Northumberland (d. 1461). Eleanor died in 1484 and was followed by her son Henry (d. 1489), Henry's son Henry Algernon (d. 1527), and Henry Algernon's son Henry (d. 1537), successive earls of Northumberland. (fn. 15) By 1514 the estate was described as the manors of Stogursey, Wyndeats, and Wick. (fn. 16)

On the death of the earl of Northumberland in 1537 his lands passed by his gift to the Crown, (fn. 17) and those in Stogursey were granted first to Sir Richard Gresham and almost immediately afterwards to Henry Courtenay, marquess of Exeter, who had had an interest in them from 1532. (fn. 18) Courtenay was attainted in 1538 (fn. 19) and the estate was granted in 1541 to Queen Catherine Howard (d. 1542). (fn. 20) It was later granted to Queen Catherine Parr on whose death in 1548 the castle (then called Wyndeats), together with the borough and Stogursey, Wick FitzPayn, and Wyndeats manors passed to Edward Seymour, duke of Somerset (d. 1552). (fn. 21) They reverted again to the Crown in 1552, and in the following year Stogursey castle and manor were presumably subsumed in a grant of Wick and Wyndeats manors and Stogursey borough to Edward Courtenay, earl of Devon, who died without issue in 1556. (fn. 22)

The earldom of Northumberland was revived in 1557 in favour of Thomas Percy, nephew of the previous earl, with remainder to Henry Percy, Thomas's brother, and Thomas was granted an estate described as the manors of Wick FitzPayn and Wyndeats and the borough, manor, and castle of Stogursey. (fn. 23) Thomas died in 1572 and Henry in 1585. Henry was followed by his son, also Henry (d. 1632), that Henry's son Algernon (d. 1668), and Algernon's son Joceline (d. 1670), successive earls of Northumberland. (fn. 24)

Following Joceline's death without male heir the estate was divided and sold by trustees largely from 1681. (fn. 25) Ownership of the castle is unknown until 1724, when it belonged to John Willis of Goathurst (d. 1761). He bequeathed it to George Davis (d. c. 1786), whose son William sold it in 1820 to (Sir) Peregrine Acland. (fn. 26) It was sold by Lord St. Audries in 1952 (fn. 27) and in 1981 was bought by the Landmark Trust. (fn. 28)

The castle, which stands on low ground to the south of Stogursey village, comprises a roughly circular motte with two baileys, the inner protecting the motte on the south and east, the outer at a higher level further east, both surrounded by earth banks and watercourses. A third embanked enclosure lies north and west. The character of the earthworks and the evidence of structures beneath the motte suggest that the site was occupied and defended before the present castle was built, (fn. 29) and that it was, perhaps, the dwelling of William de Falaise mentioned c. 1100. (fn. 30)

The standing buildings of the castle, confined to the motte, comprise a curtain wall strengthened by a circular tower on the west side and a gatehouse to the east, to which a house was later added. The curtain wall contains work of the 12th century (fn. 31) but may have been rebuilt in the 14th. The towers appear to be of the 13th century, the gatehouse evidently succeeding a single, circular tower. (fn. 32) Those works may be related to the order of 1233 to fortify the castle. (fn. 33) In 1304 the constable was ordered to have its bridges repaired. (fn. 34) In the 1490s a new tower was built, two others re-roofed, and other rooms were fitted up when the castle was in use as a centre of estate administration. Among the rooms were an audit room, a wardrobe, and a prison besides domestic quarters which included a nursery. (fn. 35) Repairs were made in 1519 (fn. 36) and a constable was paid until 1530 (fn. 37) but by 1538 the building was said to be in decay. (fn. 38) By the later 16th century destruction was evidently advanced and rabbits were kept within the castle walls. (fn. 39) Before 1614 the gatehouse was extended to form a house, (fn. 40) which was inhabited in 1684. (fn. 41) The house was rebuilt c. 1878 (fn. 42) and has been restored by the Landmark Trust for use as holiday accommodation. (fn. 43)


  • 1. S.R.S. lxi, p. 75; cf. D. F. Renn, Norman Castles in Britain, 316, where the building mentioned in 1090 refers to the castle of Curci-sur-Dives (Calvados).
  • 2. Red Bk. Exch. (Rolls Ser.), i. 224-5.
  • 3. Sanders, Eng. Baronies, 143; S.R.S. xli. 4; Pipe R. 1189-90 (Rec. Com.), 7.
  • 4. Sanders, Eng. Baronies, 143.
  • 5. Rot. Litt. Claus. (Rec. Com.), i. 239; Rot. Litt. Pat. (Rec. Com.), 186, 190.
  • 6. Rot. Litt. Claus. (Rec. Com.), i. 293.
  • 7. Pat. R. 1216-25, 456, 462-4, 490; Rot. Litt. Claus. (Rec. Com.), i. 617, 619; ii. 6, 16; Roll of Divers Accts. (P.R.S. N.S. xliv), 1; Sanders, Eng. Baronies, 143.
  • 8. Proc. Som. Arch. Soc. lxvi. 118-19; Close R. 1227-31, 43; Sanders, Eng. Baronies, 143.
  • 9. Close R. 1231-4, 546.
  • 10. Sanders, Eng. Baronies, 143; Cal. Pat. 1258-66, 609; Cal. Inq. p.m. ii, pp. 6, 8.
  • 11. Cal. Pat. 1272-81, 272, 463; Cal. Close, 1288-96, 22; Feud. Aids, iv. 282; P.R.O., SC 6/1090/4.
  • 12. B.L. Add. Ch. 19302; Cal. Inq. p.m. iv, p. 341; v, p. 73; Feud. Aids, iv. 308.
  • 13. Cal. Close, 1307-13, 33-4, 169; Cal. Inq. p.m. v, pp. 73, 388.
  • 14. Cal. Inq. p.m. v, p. 388; S.R.S. xii. 120-1; Complete Peerage, v. 463-4.
  • 15. Complete Peerage, ix. 721 and n.
  • 16. P.R.O., CP 25(2)/51/360/6 Hen. VIII East.
  • 17. Complete Peerage, ix. 721 and n.
  • 18. P.R.O., E 150/928, no. 18; E 328/283.
  • 19. Ibid. E 150/928, no. 18; S.R.S. lxi, pp. 76, 91.
  • 20. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xvi, p. 241.
  • 21. Cal. Pat. 1547-8, 126, 173.
  • 22. Ibid. 1553-4, 181, 251, 256.
  • 23. Ibid. 1557-8, 189.
  • 24. Complete Peerage, ix. 728-40.
  • 25. S.R.O., DD/AH 16/1, 28/1, 32/21; DD/BV 10; DD/HLM 8; DD/NN (H/20); DD/PC 17; DD/SAS (C/112) 9/2; DD/S/SH (N/152-3); DD/X/BH 2; P.R.O., CP 25(2)/761/21 Chas. II East.; MSS. in possession of Mr. J. S. Cox, Guernsey.
  • 26. S.R.O., DD/AH 33/16, 55/2; D/P/gst 2/1/4; inf. from the Landmark Trust.
  • 27. S.R.O., DD/X/HUX 1.
  • 28. Inf. from the Landmark Trust.
  • 29. The suggestion of Mr. Richard McDonnell, archaeologist.
  • 30. S.R.S. lxi, p. 1.
  • 31. D. F. Renn, Norman Castles in Britain, 316.
  • 32. V.C.H. Som. ii. 150; there is no evidence, either documentary or archaeological, to support the claim for its destruction in 1457, despite Collinson, Hist. Som. i. 251; Proc. Som. Arch. Soc. xxiii (1), 67.
  • 33. Above, this section.
  • 34. Cal. Close, 1302-7, 121.
  • 35. W. Suff. R.O. 449/E3/15.53/2.2, 6, 9-10, 12.
  • 36. Ibid. 2.17; W. Suss. R.O., PHA uncat.
  • 37. P.R.O., E 315/427, f. 58.
  • 38. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xiii (2), p. 293.
  • 39. S.R.O., D/D/Cd 129.
  • 40. Ibid. DD/X/WI 34.
  • 41. Ibid. DD/SP inventory, 1684.
  • 42. Proc. Som. Arch. Soc. xxiii (1), 67; for a view before the rebuilding, above, plate facing p. 136.
  • 43. Inf. from the Landmark Trust.