Castle, free entry
Rayleigh Mount, also known as Rayleigh Castle, was a medieval motte and bailey castle built in the 11th century shortly after the Norman conquest. Today, all that can be seen are the earthwork remains of its large motte-and-bailey.
It is one of 48 castles mentioned in the Domesday Survey of 1086 and built by Sweyn. The family was supposedly one of the wealthiest landowners in post-Conquest Essex. On Sweyn's death the castle passed to his son Robert de Essex (c.1085) and then to his grandson Henry d'Essex. Around 1140 the motte was covered in stone rubble. Henry was accused of cowardice in battle in 1163 and subject to a trial by combat which he lost. The castle and its estates were confiscated to become the property of the king, Henry II. Extensive alterations were made to it in 1172 and in 1183-4. The property given by King John to Hubert de Burgh in around 1200 who probably used it as a source of building materials for the castle which he started building in 1230 about 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) away at Hadleigh. Following his death ownership of the castle reverted to the Crown. Documents dating between 1279 and 1303 refer to the motte being used for pasture, which probably means that the castle was no longer used as a fortification. In 1394 King Richard II gave permission for the townspeople of Rayleigh to use the foundations of the castle as a source of stone. Since the foundations are explicitly mentioned in the document giving permission, it is unlikely that any other masonry structures remained by then.
Open all the time
Summer 7am-6pm, Winter 7am-5pm.
- National Trust Property
- Regional Tourist Board Member
- Children welcome
- Dogs accepted