Hinckley Castle - Motte and Bailey

Hinckley Castle was a Motte and Bailey Castle that escaped being demolished in 1173, but time would eventually catch up

Hinckley Castle - Motte and Bailey
Hinckley Castle, Motte and Bailey

Hinckley Castle is a Motte and Bailey earthwork, a massive bank and ditch is all that remains of the Castle, built from earth and timber more than eight hundred year ago.

The castle was founded by Hugh de Grantmesnil during the 11th Century. Hinckley castle is supposed to have been demolished when it was defortified by Robert Bossu, 2nd Earl of Leicester in 1153.

By the 14th Century the Castle was no longer in use and towns-people grazed their cattle on its site.

The site of Hinckley Castle was purchased in 1760 by William Hurst, Esq., who built a mansion upon it called Castle Hill House. William Hurst was a hosier and High Sheriff of Leicestershire.

In 1922 The War Memorial was erected in the Bailey part of the Castle to for those that had fallen during the conflict of World War 1.

In November 1923 a three-year-old male swan was introduced to the moat and was given the name of Jasper, the swan became quite a character with the local people.

The excavations in 1976 discovered the foot of the moat into Castle Street. All that now exists is the 38 feet high rampart of the Bailey part of the Castle, the way it looks today is how it as looked for at least 300-400 years.

Motte and Bailey Castles

A walk through a Motte and Bailey Castle

Hinckley Castle was a Motte and Bailey design, a type of castle first built by the Normans. The Motte was a steep-sided artificial mound, built in much the same way as a sand-castles are built. The Bailey was a court-yard at the foot of the mound, surrounded by a bank and ditch.

The Castle was defended by palisades, fences of tree-trunks or roughly cut plank, which ran round the Motte top and the Bailey bank. On the Motte top stood a timber watch-tower while the Bailey contained the castle's main buildings. This would include a great-hall where the garrison ate and slept, a kitchen block, stables, stores and perhaps a chapel. All these buildings were built from timber with roofs of thatch or wooden tiles.

Motte and Bailey Castles were quick and cheap to build. Some were little more that forts, providing a secure base for a garrison of soldiers. Others were built as fortified home for Knights or Nobles and their families. The buildings of these were often elaborately carved and painted. Some Motte and Bailey Castles had their timber building and defences rebuilt in stone and continued in use for many centuries. Others, like Hinckley, fell into disuse when the troubled times in which they were built and passed.

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