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Farnham Castle Keep, Surrey

Farnham Castle, located on a hill, was founded in 1138 by Henry of Blois. After 1155 it was pulled down, then redeveloped in stone by Henry II. A stone outer curtain wall was constructed. It was no longer used as a fortress after the civil war, but during the war part of the curtain wall and keep walls were damaged by gunpowder.

It was a residence for the bishops of Winchester who used it as a stopping place between Winchester and London. Barns and other buildings would have been in the countryside around the castle.

Farnham Castle Gateway by Colin Smith courtesy Geograph Britain and Ireland A twin-towered gatehouse was the main entrance to the castle. The keep is different because the earthern mound was encased at a later time in stone, creating what is known as a ‘shell keep’. In the late medevial times there would have been half-timbered buildings in the keep.

Farnham Castle keep by Colin Smith courtesy Geograph Britain and Ireland The entry to the keep is reached by three flights of stairs and once had a drawbridge pit. There was a portcullis and murder hole. Inside the keep were four small turrets, the west one later made into a room complete with fireplace. There was a wall walk with doors into the turrets. In the center of the keep courtyard was a tower and well shaft. It is thought the tower was destroyed after 1155 on purpose.

A hall, kitchen, chapel and bishop’s apartments were in the courtyard. After the civil war the bishops repaired much of it and developed the interior of the medieval hall, chapel, and apartments.

The keep is under the care of English Heritage, but other buildings are in private ownership.

Visitor Information

Farnham Castle Keep
.5 mile north of Farnham town centre, Surrey
On the A287
Tel. 0 1252 713 393
Open: April-24 Dec, Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm; Sat and Sun, 10am-4pm; Feb-March, 9am-5pm; Sat and Sun, 10am-6pm
English Heritage property; parking

Photos of castle by Colin Smith courtesy Geograph Britain and Ireland

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