( Above Photo: South Mimms )
South Mimms village and administrative parish in Hertfordshire England. It is home to a medieval motte and bailey castle constructed by the Normans. The building goes by several names, including South Mimms Motte and Bailey Castle or simple South Mimms Castle.
The castle sits on an east-facing slope next to the Mimmshall Brook, 1.25km northwest of South Mimms village. It is composed of a 0.9m-high motte and 35m base diameter. There’s also a kidney-shaped bailey 125m long south-to-north and 110m east-to-west.
There once was a bailey entrance to the south-west which has since been replaced by a causeway over a ditch and a rampart break. The southern part of South Mimms Castle has remnants of what once was an outer bailey.
History of South Mimms Castle
( Above Photo: South Mimms Castle )
In 1411, Geoffrey de Mandeville built the castle after obtaining a license from Matilda. In 1143, the castle was destroyed. The motte was a large cone-shaped mound of rubble or earth on which stood a timber or stone tower with a palisade.
On the other hand, the bailey was an embanked enclosure with additional buildings. In most cases, the bailey sat best to the motte.
Given its elaborate structure, South Mimms Castle was a garrison fort for military operations, an aristocratic residence, a royal or local administration unit, or a stronghold. It was one of over 600 mote and bailey castles constructed in England.
On the sides of the motte, there was a rivetted wooden wall. Therefore, it would have only been possible to see wood when looking at the castle.
Between 1961 and 1965, J. Kent excavated the area, revealing evidence of a timbered tower that had once stood on the ground. The tower’s entrance was to the south. There was a motte around the tower using materials from the castle’s defensive ditches.
After the castle’s destruction in 1143, people continued to live in the area unto the 14th century as evidenced by pottery from that period. Today, South Mimms Castle is mainly a historical and archeological site that attracts many visitors.
South Mimms Castle Today
South Mimms Castle no longer exists. On the site, all you can see is evidence of the existence of the castle at some point. Originally, South Mimms Parish must have been situated in the castle. Once South Mimms village moves over a kilometer away, the parish and the church moved with it.
Artists have created impressions of what South Mimms Castle would have looked like today. Even though you can still visit the site, it stands on private land. There’s a public path leading to it, so, you won’t be trespassing to find your way here.
The site has undergone many excavations, which have disturbed the site to a certain extend. Other things that have happened onsite include cultivation and animal burrowing. However, the motte, bailey, and its defenses remain in good condition.
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