Maison Dieu: guidebook

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1958 (3rd impress. with amendments 1967)

The hospital of Maison Dieu was built in the 13th century at Ospringe in Kent and stood on the line of the main road from Dover to London. The earliest records date back to the reign of Henry III. The building was placed in State guardianship in 1947.

S.E. Rigold wrote the official guidebook (1958) consisting of a history and a description. There are a number of black and white images. G.C. Dunning added a section on the museum; there is a plan showing the layout of the display cases. Dunning includes a review of Roman finds in the area of Ospringe. He also includes a note on the Ospringe finds now in the British Museum.

Kelsale Medieval Landscape

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Kelsale medieval dam © David Gill

The Suffolk Flora Preservation Trust had an open day on the Fromus Valley at Kelsale in Suffolk. One of the most impressive features is a 200 m long medieval dam across the valley. The Trust has used LIDAR imagery to show the extent of the lake.

The dam and lake appear to form part of the hunting estate by the Bigod family at Kelsale. The earliest reference to the lake appears in the Patent Role of 1281 (details).

Pevensey Castle: WW2 defences

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Pevensey Castle © David Gill

The fall of France in the spring of 1940 meant that Sussex became the front line. The ruins of Pevensey Castle—a Roman Saxon Shore fort as well as a medieval castle—were used to disguised strong points. Teams from the Ministry assisted with the construction of the defences so that they would blend into the ruins of the Roman and medieval walls.

This pill box was mounted on the wall of the medieval keep. Note the Ministry sign placed below it: ‘Gun Emplacement / 1939-1945’.

Pevensey Castle: signage

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Pevensey Castle © David Gill

Pevensey Castle was given to the Office of Works by the Duke of Devonshire in 1925. It became one of the front line defences of Britain in 1940.

Pevensey Castle was one of the Saxon Shore forts and was later reused as a medieval castle.

For guidebooks to the fort and castle see here.

Old Sarum: Ministry sign

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Old Sarum © David Gill

The iron age hillfort at Old Sarum was taken into State Guardianship in February 1892. It contained a later medieval castle as well as the remains of a cathedral started in 1078.

Excavations by the Society of Antiquaries were conducted in 1909. The site is now managed by English Heritage.

The Ministry sign was originally mounted on the side of the custodian’s hut.

Berkhampstead Castle: Guidebook

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1948 (repr. 1966)

Berkhampstead Castle, Hertfordshire, is now in the care of English Heritage. It was founded as a motte and bailey castle c. 1170. The castle was placed in State Guardianship in 1930. The first guide was written by Sir Charles Peers, Chief Inspector of Ancient Monuments (1932), and then reissued in 1936. The post-war leaflet appeared in 1948 (and was reprinted in 1966). The 1936 edition had eight pages of text although this was compressed to four pages by the 1966 reprint (with two additional pages of plan). The text appears to be identical.

The early editions had a foldout plan, but by 1966 this was printed as a double-page spread (pp. 2-3).

Sir Charles Peers and Pevensey Castle

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1952 (rev. with additions 1963)

Sir Charles Peers prepared the guidebooks for two of the Saxon Shore forts that had been reused  as medieval castles: Portchester Castle in Hampshire and Pevensey Castle in Sussex.

The guide is divided into two main sections: history and description. There is a foldout plan inside the back cover. Peers describes the nature of the Saxon Shore forts and some of their reuse. He continues with the granting of the site to the half-brother of William the Conqueror.

Peers notes the use of the fort during the Second World War including the insertion of pill-boxes and a blockhouse to protect against tanks: ‘By the grace of God these twentieth-century defences were never put to the test’.