Holmesfield Castle was a motte-and-bailey fortification built in the late eleventh or early twelfth century to control a portage route and administer a small manor. It was raised by the Deincourt family but probably had a relatively short lifespan before being replaced by a moated manorial house on more favourable ground to the north-east.
Holmesfield Castle was built upon the eastern end of a spur of high ground adjacent to a portage route between the Rivers Derwent and Drone. Its origins are obscure but, at the time of the Domesday survey of 1086, the manor was owned by Walter Deincourt, an individual who was granted a package of lands surrounding Chesterfield. Holmesfield itself was at the north-west extremity of these holdings and the castle would have served both to administer the manor and to control the portage route. It was possibly either Walter or his son, Roger Deincourt, who built the castle. If the latter, it may have been raised during the Anarchy, the civil war between Stephen and Matilda over the English succession.
The castle itself was an earth and timber motte-and-bailey fortification. The flat-topped motte would have hosted a Shell Keep with timber framed buildings which possibly included a Great Hall. The base of the mound was originally surrounded by a ditch. A bailey extended to the south and east in the area now occupied by the modern road and Castle Hill House.
The castle probably had a relatively short lifespan and by the late thirteenth century it was replaced by a moated site house located some 300 metres to the north-east. This in turn was replaced by a later manorial house which now forms part of Hall Farm.
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Holmesfield Castle consists of the earthwork remains of a motte fortification although the associated bailey has been obliterated by later developments. The remains are on private land but can be viewed from the adjacent public path.
Holmesfield Castle. The castle was an earth and timber motte-and-bailey fortification. The motte survives although it has suffered from subsidence and its eastern end has been damaged by construction of Castle Hill House.
Castle Hill House. The house was built upon the castle site damaging part of the motte and a portion of the bailey.
St Swithin's Church. A church may have been established at Holmesfield as early as 641 AD when monks from Lindisfarne travelled through the area into Mercia. The church was later dedicated to St Swithin, a ninth century adviser to the Kings of Wessex.
Holmesfield Castle is found off the B6054 (Main Road) between Lidgate and Owler Bar. The site is not sign-posted but clearly visible from the road. Car parking is possible on the side roads with one option shown below.
Car Parking Option
Park Avenue, S18 7XA
Main Road (B6054), S18 7XA