Past Remains

A view of yesterday from today

Rougemont Castle, Exeter, Devon - Part 2

Part Two of Rougemont Castle deals with the inner courtyard and the buildings within the castle walls. The whole site, comprising the Gatehouse, Castle and City Walls, the ground beneath all the buildings and adjoining areas, is designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

The largest and most imposing is a Palladian style Georgian building, built in 1773 for the County Assize Courts. Prior to this, the inner bailey consisted of a Sessions House, built in 1607, which was demolished along with the remaining medaeival buildings. Interestingly, the castle was a traditional venue for court hearings and it just occurred to me that maybe that's where the name 'the old bailey' or the term 'courthouse' comes from!


Enlarged in 1895, and more alterations made in 1905 with the addition of a Neo-Palladian wing, it served as Exeter's Crown and County Courts until 2003. Apart from those fortunate...or unfortunate! have been called to court, it was an inaccessible part of Exeter's rich history. However, due to increasing difficulties of disabled access, there was a move to new purpose-built courts, and the Assize building was subsequently sold to private developers.

A Grade II* Listed building, it is now home to residential apartments, a ballroom and gallery. When I visited, there was still interior alteration work being undertaken with workmen going in and out. I didn't want to get in their way, so I only took a few photos of the vestibule and exterior. However, I will be going again to take more...not least because I had a really 'bad hair' day with the back-up camera I was using after the demise of my long-serving one. I now have a new one, which is the same model as my original one. So I will be retaking some of these photos, as well as getting new ones, as soon as possible.

To the right of the inner door (above) is what looks like a reception office. I can only surmise that it may have been the first port of call for those who were attending court.

The photo below shows a lovely ornamental pebbled pathway in front of the building. Pebbles were used extensively in East Devon buildings, as well as the more ubiquitous cobbled streets, due to the local pebble beds in the area as well as the pebbly beaches.

As grand as the building is, I found the rear areas far more interesting. I love the way bits of the architecture get cobbled together when no-one's looking.

And around the other side to the east, is this wonderful arch. There are lights above, therefore I assume it's an actual bridge across to the gardens. The original earthworks of the castle are still extant around the courtyard, therefore are just below the right slope of the bridge.

Another Grade II Listed remain of the inner courtyard is this statue of Earl Fortesque (below), who was the Lieutenant of Devon. The statue was erected in 1863. I had difficulty getting this photo, as it was fenced off around the base, but managed to get inside the barriers to get this side shot.

The Lodge, above and below, was built in 1892, and although not a Listed Building in it's own right it has been Curtillaged Listed. A new term for me, so I looked it up. This is a term accorded to satellite buildings associated with, and within a specific area together with buildings which have Grade listing, and which pre-date 1948. As a building which has a specific role within a Scheduled Ancient Monument, it is therefore curtillaged and protected alongside them.

A view, below, of the inside of the castle gate and gatehouse. A wonderful view for anyone living in one of the new courthouse apartments, but...a minor rant here! One of the reasons I had difficulty getting the photos I wanted was due to the amount of vehicles inside the courtyard.

According to a pdf document from the planning department published in April 2005, and before the buildings were sold for development, it did stipulate that 'in order to create a satisfactory ambience for the buildings and the ramparts, parking should be kept to a minimum'. Now, I've seen photos of before it was sold and developed, and there were virtually no cars there at all, but when I visited it was choc-a-bloc. In fact, the whole of the courtyard looked like one gigantic car park, even right up to the front entrance of the Georgian building. I know I wouldn't want to live there and see that from my window! So, Exeter Council...please take note of your own recommendations. :)

Another view of the gate and the castle wall to the left. Again, apologies for the naff pics. I will be retaking and exchanging these for better ones as soon as I can.

For more info about the castle and it's history from Romano-British times onwards, please see Rougemont Castle Part One when available. More photos of both can be seen in the Photo Gallery albums.

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