Colcombe Castle

Venue Type & Location

Private Residence

Site Name: Colcombe Castle
Location: Colcombe Castle
County: Devon
Location Type: Countryside - at determined location


The site of the Courtenays' castle is on the southern slope of a hill overlooking the lovely Axe Valley, 1/2 mile N of Colyton on the Dorset border. Not a defensive site, but eminently suitable for a lavish residence.

A 17th c. stone rubble house stands on the site of Colcombe Castle, possibly incorporating some fabric from the original.

Part of the late medieval domestic range, possibly the kitchen, survives as an outbuilding.

Performance History

A fragmentary household account survives for 1523--4 when Katherine, Countess of Devon (wife of the 18th Earl), was in residence at Colcombe. Relevant payments to royal performers and for the Courtenay fool's livery are included.

Few other household accounts survive for the influential Courtenay family but entertainers under their patronage appeared elsewhere in the 14th, 15th and 16th c. It is likely that these performers also entertained their patrons at one or more of the Courtenay residences.

Current Status

A few ruins incorporated into a privately owned farm.

History of the Venue

late 13th c. Manor acquired by the Courtenays of Okehampton, Devon, as heirs to the de Reviers, Earls of Devon, builders of the original house.

early 16th c. Henry Courtenay began the rebuilding of the house on a grand scale.

1540 Confiscated by the Crown after the attainder of Henry Courtenay and neglected. Later returned to Edward, 20th Earl of Devon (d 1556).

late 16th c. Purchased by William Pole of Shute, Devon, for his son.

ca. 1635 Sir William Pole largely rebuilt the house.

mid-17th c. Extensive fire damage by Cromwell's troops during the Civil War. The Pole family subsequently relocated to Shute. The remains of the house were converted for farmhouse use and became ruinous.

Record Source

REED Devon 30, 37, 85, 90--4, 129--32, 135, 194, 222, 224--5, 306--9; Shropshire 1.196 ; Public Record Office: E36/223 ff 28v, 33, 39, 39v

Patrons who owned this venue

Name Dates Titles
Courtenay, Edward 0-1509 17th Earl of , Knight , Knight of the Garter
Courtenay, Edward de 1357-1419 4th Baron , 11th Earl of
Courtenay, Henry 0-1469
Courtenay, Henry 1498-1539 19th Earl of , Knight of the , 1st Marquess of
Courtenay, Hugh de 1389-1422 Knight , 5th Baron , 12th Earl of
Courtenay, Thomas de 1414-1458 6th Baron , 13th Earl of
Talbot, Anne 0-1441 Countess

Bibliographic Sources

  • Cherry, Bridget, and Nikolaus Pevsner. Devon. The Buildings of England. London: Penguin Books, 1989.
  • The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom. 1887–98 (8 vols); 1910–59 (13 vols). 6 vols. Gloucester: Alan Sutton, 1982.
  • Hoskins, W.G. Devon. A New Survey of England. Newton Abbot: David & Charles, 1973.
  • Lysons, Daniel and Samuel. Magna Britannia; being a concise topographical account of the several counties of Great Britain. 6 vols. London: T. Cadell and W. Davies, 1806–22.
  • Polwhele, Richard. The History of Devonshire. 1st ed. [1793–1806] printed by Trewman and Son for: Cadell, Johnson and Dilly (vol 1); Cadell, Dilly and Murray (vol 2); Cadell and Davies (vol 3); all in London. 3 vols. Dorking: Kohler & Coombes, 1977.
  • Westcott, Margaret. 'Katherine Courtenay, Countess of Devon, 1479–1527.' . Tudor and Stuart Devon: The Common Estate and Government. Essays presented to Joyce Youings. Todd Gray, ed. Devon: U of Exeter P, 1992.
  • Westcott, Margaret. 'Surveying the Estates of Henry Courtenay, Earl of Devon, Marquis of Exeter and Traitor, 1543–4.' Devon Documents in honour of Mrs Margery Rowe 1996: 199–203.