Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Pleshey Castle (Pleshey)

Pleshey Castle is a historic site in the pretty Essex village of Pleshey.

Originally a motte and bailey castle built in the 12th century, the site today comprises an enormous motte which is 50 feet high, and a water filled moat crossed by a 14th century brick bridge, which is probably the oldest such bridge in England. No other buildings remain, but the village nestles in what was the outer bailey.

The powerful Geoffrey de Mandeville surrendered the castle to King Stephen in 1142, and it was ordered to be destoyed in 1157. However, it weas refortified between 1167 and 1180.

The most unpleasant incident here happened in 1397, when Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester, and owner of Pleshey, was abducted on the orders of Richard II. He was taken to Leigh and from there to Calais, where he was murdered.

Later, the Duke of Exeter, who had planned the ambush, was beheaded by a vengeful mob outside he castle walls.

Most of the castle was demolished by its then owner Robert Clarke in 1629, and replaced with a house called The Lodge.

There is a stone in the churchyard with a Latin inscription which translates as "Richard II".

Access to the castle is by appointment only, but casual visitors can get fairly near. In the village is a garden with views across the moat.

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