Tiverton Castle

Venue Type & Location

Private Residence

Site Name: Tiverton Castle
Location: Tiverton
County: Devon
Location Type: Town - in town at determined location

Performance Spaces


The remains of the Courtenays' principal medieval residence are set beside the parish church of St Peter on the NW side of Tiverton. The fortified castle on a steep cliff overlooking the River Exe lay on the road from Exeter to the N coast.

Originally built around a quadrangle with round towers at each corner and a main gatehouse in the E wall. Most of the E and S outer walls survive, as well as the 14th c. gatehouse. The N and W wings are ruinous, but with sections of wall remaining. The site of the medieval great hall is unclear although it may have been in the S wing adjacent to the solar block at the SW corner of the site.

Performance History

A probable performance venue. Very few Courtenay household records survive but entertainers under the family's patronage performed elsewhere in the 15th c. and 16th c. It is likely that they also performed here at their patrons' principal residence. During his brief period of ownership it is also possible that performers patronized by Humphrey Stafford performed at Tiverton as well. George, Duke of Clarence's minstrels and bearwards are recorded as performing in the SW during the period when Tiverton was one of his residences.

Current Status

Open to the public at specified times.

History of the Venue

1106 Richard de Reviers (d 1107) finished construction of the first castle at Tiverton.

1293 Hugh de Courtenay, 9th Earl of Devon, acquired the manor as heir to the de Reviers estates.

ca. 1300 Hugh de Courtenay rebuilt the original castle on a courtyard plan with surrounding curtain wall and moat.

1461 Thomas Courtenay, 14th Earl of Devon, attainted and beheaded.

1462 Tiverton granted to Humphrey Stafford, Baron Stafford of Southwick, and later 15th Earl of Devon (d 1469).

1470 Granted to John Neville, 1st Baron (and later 1st Marquess of) Montagu (d 1471).

1471 Granted to George, 3rd Duke of Clarence, becoming one of his residences. Upon Clarence's attainder in 1477/8, Tiverton reverted to the Crown.

1484 Granted to Sir Richard Ratcliffe (d 1485).

1485 Restored to Edward Courtenay, 17th Earl of Devon.

ca. 1500 3-storey tower added at E side of the gatehouse.

1538/9 Property appropriated by the Crown after the attainder and beheading of Henry Courtenay and given to John Russell, Baron Russell.

ca. 1540 Russell exchanged Tiverton for other lands with Edward Seymour, 5th Duke of Somerset.

1553 Tiverton restored to Edward Courtenay, created 20th Earl of Devon.

by 1588 Castle sold to Roger Giffard of Brightley by the 20th Earl's coheirs. Upper floor of gatehouse rebuilt and renovations made to convert the castle as a residence.

1645 Under siege and captured during the Civil War. Castle fell into disrepair and was subsequently used as a farm.

ca. 1700 Sold to a local merchant, Peter West, who added a long wing, partly brick, extending W from the gatehouse.

1772 Peter West's daughter Dorothy married Sir Thomas Carew of Haccombe in 1727. Upon her death the castle inherited by her grandson Sir Thomas Carew.

19th c. N wing extended at W end twice.

1870s East Court, another long range, added to the E end of the N wing.

1923 Sold by the Carews and passed through the hands of various owners.

1960s Purchased by Mr and Mrs Ivar Campbell.

1985 Inherited by their nephew, Angus Gordon, who continues their conservation efforts.

Record Source

REED Devon 30--1, 37--8, 76, 85--6, 90--3, 125--32, 135, 194, 213--14, 220--2, 306; Dorset/Cornwall 470; Shropshire 1.196

Patrons who owned this venue

Name Dates Titles
Blount, Gertrude 1504-1558 Countess of , Marchioness of
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
Plantagenet, George 1449-1478 3rd Duke of , 17th Earl of , 12th Earl of
Stafford, Humphrey 1439-1469 Baron , Knight , 15th Earl of
Talbot, Anne 0-1441 Countess

Bibliographic Sources

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  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 01/05/2005 (http://www.oxforddnb.com)
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  • 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.
  • Somerset Fry, Plantagenet. Castles of the British Isles. New York: Dorset P, 1990.
  • 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.