arnham Castle consists of the remains of a motte and bailey castle that would have had a large square tower on top. The castle is situated on a steep hill giving both protection from attack and excellent views. A well in the centre of the mound descends to ground level and below to the source of water that kept the castle supplied. The area is associated with the Bishops of Winchester and it was Henry, the brother of King Stephen who was responsible for the creation of the castle in the first half of the twelfth century. After the Civil War between Matilda and Stephen, the castle was dismantled, but was later rebuilt. The rebuilding work saw the mound surrounded by a stone wall and the edges filled in to form what is known as a 'shell keep'. The keep had one entrance tower which had a drawbridge and a pit beneath. The shell keep also had four towers or turrets around the edge.

Farnham Castle Key Facts
CountySurrey (4 castles)
CategoriesMotte & Bailey / Stone / Shell Keep
RemainsNot complete but much survives
Access to siteOnly open at certain times
TimeRef Rating

1155   Farnham Castle demolished
 Orders were given to destroy the central tower at Farnham Castle. The castle belonged to Henry, Bishop of Winchester who was the brother of King Stephen. 

Motte and Bailey Castles

Virtual reconstruction

The Norman Conquerors built their castles in locations where they could keep control of the local populations of Saxons or at important locations such as river crossings or on key roads. Many motte and bailey castles were built on the border with Wales to try and keep the Welsh at bay. The advantage of this type of castle was that it was quick to construct. Making a fortification from wood was much easier than making one of stone.

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