History

 

Tenbury Wells Castle, which is also known as Burford Castle, controlled a crossing point over the River Teme which was a key communication and trade artery providing access between Worcester and Ludlow. Its date of origin is uncertain but it is entirely possible it was pre-Conquest. The Domesday Book (1086) notes that the pre-Conquest owner was Richard le Scrope, a Norman Knight who had been part of the retinue of Ralph of Mantes, Earl of the East Midlands when he had come to England in the late 1040s at the invitation of Edward the Confessor. Richard had been appointed Sheriff of Shropshire and tasked with securing the Welsh border. He built Richard's Castle at this time and it is likely that he also built other fortifications and this possibly included the castle at Tenbury Wells. Richard retained his estates after the Conquest and his son, Osbern Fitz Richard, went on to prosper under the new regime.

 

Today the remains of the castle, namely a mound a little under four metres high, is a little lacklustre with no surviving evidence of ditches or other defences but this invariably belies the importance of what would have originally been a fairly substantial earth and timber motte-and-bailey fortification. It was built upon the flood plain of the River Teme and the mound would have originally been surrounded by boggy ground. This would have significantly enhanced its defences and for this reason the motte had no ditch surrounding it. It is also probable that in the late eleventh century the castle was sited within a meander of the River Teme and this is supported by the location of the original Worcester/Shropshire border which, as recently as the late nineteenth century, looped around the castle mound. This would also explain a lack of a bailey as the enclosure provided by the river would have afforded a substantial protected area. It is not known how long the castle remained in use but abandonment no later than the thirteenth century would seem likely.

 

Bibliography

 

Dalwood, H (2010). Archaeological assessment of Tenbury Wells, Hereford and Worcester (including part of Burford, Shropshire).

Douglas, D.C and Rothwell, H (ed) (1975). English Historical Documents Vol 3 (1189-1327). Routledge, London.

Higham, R and Barker, P (1992). Timber Castles. Batsford.

Historic England (2015). Castle Tump Listing Number 1008392. Historic England, London.

Jackson, M.J (1988). Castles of Shropshire. Shrewsbury.

King, C.D.J (1983). Castellarium anglicanum: an index and bibliography of the castles in England, Wales and the Islands.  Kraus International Publications.

Montgomerie (1924). Ancient Earthworks. VCH Worcestershire.

Remfry, P.M (1999). Nine castles of Burford Barony, 1048 to 1308. SCS Publishing.

Salter, M (2001). The Castles and Moated Mansions of Shropshire. Folly Publications, Malvern.

Williams, A and Martin, G.H (2003). Domesday Book: A Complete Translation. Viking, London.

What's There?

Tenbury Wells Castle is found to the north of the town on the other side of the River Teme. Only the motte survives and that is much reduced from its original size.

Castle Tump. Tenbury Wells Castle is known as Castle Tump and, although most authors now agree it is indeed a motte, it has also been interpreted as a Bronze Age round barrow.

River Teme. When the castle was built in the eleventh century it was located within a meander of the River Teme. Today the river follows a different path to the south of the castle site.

TENBURY WELLS CASTLE

Tenbury Wells Castle, which is also known as Burford Castle or Castle Tump, was possibly built before the Norman Conquest and has been attributed to Richard le Scrope. He was a Norman immigrant who had come to England in the late 1040s at the invitation of King Edward the Confessor and built numerous castles to control his estates.

Getting There

Tenbury Wells Castle, although very near the Worcestershire village from which it takes its name, is actually just over the border in Shropshire. Nevertheless it is best to park in the village and walk over the bridge to the motte.

Car Parking Option

WR15 8AZ

52.311947N 2.593034W

Tenbury Castle

No Postcode

52.314212N 2.596855W