Tonbridge Castle

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Tonbridge Castle


Tonbridge Castle Gatehouse and mansion
Type: Motte and bailey, with later shell keep
Grid reference: TQ58854666
Location: 51°11’48"N, 0°16’26"E
Town: Tonbridge
Battles: De Clare rebellion, 1088
Condition: Motte and gatehouse survive
Owned by: Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council

Tonbridge Castle is situated in the little town of Tonbridge in Kent.

Early history

Reconstruction of Tonbridge Castle in the 13th century

Following the Norman Conquest, Richard Fitz Gilbert was granted land in Kent to guard the crossing of the River Medway. He erected a simple motte-and-bailey castle on the site. To dig the moat and erect the motte, 50,000 tons of earth were moved. In 1088, the de Clare family (descendents of Fitz Gilbert) rebelled against King William II. His army besieged the castle. After holding for two days the castle fell and as punishment the king had both the castle and the town of Tonbridge burnt to the ground. Before 1100, the de Clares replaced the wooden castle with a stone shell keep. This was reinforced during the thirteenth century, and in 1295 a stone wall was built around the town.[1]

The twin towered gatehouse was built by Richard de Clare, sixth Earl of Hertford or his son Gilbert.[2] Construction of the gatehouse took 30 years, being completed in 1260.[3] The gatehouse shares many similarities with the ones at Caerphilly Castle built by Gilbert in 1268-1271. The great seal of England was temporarily kept here during one of Edward's visits to France.[2]

The castle was not lived in between 1521 and the late 18th century, except for a short period during the Civil War.[4] The mansion was added in 1793. Both castle and mansion are Grade I listed buildings.[3]

Modern history

The motte

The site was purchased by the local council in 1900, who now use the mansion as offices, and making the grounds a public park.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Tonbridge Castle)


  1. Tonbridge Historical Society, The Castle,, retrieved January 2008 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Tonbridge Historical Society, The Arms of Tonbridge,, retrieved January 2008 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Tonbridge Castle, Tonbridge, Kent, English Heritage,, retrieved 2008-11-14 
  4. Neve, Arthur H. (1933), The Tonbridge of Yesterday, Tonbridge Free Press,