Portchester Castle: guidebooks


Portchester Castle © David Gill

Portchester Castle consists of a Late Roman Saxon Shore fort, with a Medieval castle and church placed within its walls. It was placed in Statue Guardianship in 1926 and Sir Charles Peers wrote the first official guidebook in 1933.


1965 (3rd impress. with amendments, 1969)

Stuart E. Rigold revised Peers’ text in a 3rd edition of the text (1965). This was divided into two main parts: a history and a description. The description included sections on the Roman fortress, the medieval castle, and the church (for an Augustinian priory). There are two fold-out plans inside the back cover: the Roman fort, and a plan of the medieval castle.


1990 (2000)

The new English Heritage guide was prepared by Julian T. Munby (who had excavated on the site with Barry Cunliffe). This contains two tours: The Medieval Castle, and the Outer Bailey and Roman Fort. These are followed by a history of the castle including the Roman fort and the Saxon settlement. The guide has numerous reconstruction drawings and photographs. The centre pages provide an overview of the whole castle.


2003 (2nd ed. 2008, rev. reprint 2011)

The current English Heritage guidebook is by John Goodall. It contains a tour followed by a history, with special sections on ‘Building the Roman Fort’ and ‘Prisoners of War’. There are plans of the fort and the different levels of the castle on a foldout plan inside the back cover.

Appuldurcombe House: guidebooks


1986 (2nd ed.; repr. 2001)

Appuldurcombe is a major house on the Isle of Wight. The fragile structure was placed in State Guardianship in 1952. It had last been occupied in 1909.



The Ministry guidebook was prepared by L.O.J. Boynton (1967). This takes a different format to other ‘blue’ guides. It starts with an introduction, and then presents a short essay on the Worsleys of Appuldurcombe. This is followed by a long section on the building of Appuldurcombe, with sections on Sir Robert Worsley (1701–13), Sir Richard Worsley (1773–82) and the Yarborough period (1805–55) and after. Finally there is a description of the house and grounds. The text is supported iwth a block of 32 endnotes.  There are 9 black and white plates, and a table showing the 18th century cost of the house. Inside the back cover are plans of the park and of the house itself.


1967 (3rd impress. 1971)

The DOE guide (1971) is essentially the same as the earlier MPBW one except that it had integrated images. The English Heritage Guide (1986), that continues in print (most recently in 2009), is a revised and expanded version of Boynton’s 1967 text. It now starts with a tour and description, broken down into elements of the structure. This is followed by a history of Appuldurcombe starting in the Anglo-Saxon period. The final section is the building history. There are now 37 supporting endnotes.

This is one of several Ministry guides that continue to have a life under English Heritage.

Thetford: guidebooks


1956 (repr. 1970)

The Cluniac priory at Thetford was placed in State Guardianship in 1932. F.J.E. Raby prepared the first official guide in 1935. This was expanded by P.K. Baillie Reynolds (1956). The pair also prepared the guidebooks for Castle Acre Priory and Framlingham Castle.

The Thetford guide consists of three pages of History, followed by six pages of description. A plan of the priory was placed in the middle pages.


1984 (repr. 1989; orig. 1979)

In 1979 the DOE guidebook was expanded to include a section on the Warren Lodge outside Thetford. S.E. Rigold prepared the new section on the lodge. In 1984 this booklet evolved into the English Heritage guide with black and white photographs and plans. David Sherlock had a section on the Church of the Canons of the Holy Sepulchre (with plan), and Rigold on the lodge.


Thetford Warren Lodge © David Gill

Maison Dieu: guidebook


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.

Yarmouth Castle: guidebooks


2003 [1978]

Yarmouth Castle on the Isle of Wight was one of a series of defences for the Solent. It was constructed after a  French raid of 1545 during the reign of Henry VIII, and was nearly complete by the autumn of 1547. The castle continued to be used for coastal defence until 1885. The castle was placed in the care of the Office of Works in 1913.


1958 (repr. 1962)

S.E. Rigold wrote the first paper guide for the castle in 1958. It consisted of a detailed history (nearly five and a half pages) followed by a description. The centre page consists of a site plan along with plans of the ground, first and second floors. The price (in 1962) was 4d.


1985 (repr. 1987, 1990)

Rigold’s guide was reprinted in 1978, and formed the basis of the English Heritage ‘white’ guidebook (1985). This started wit ha description followed by the history.  It is illustrated with black and white photographs, and the centre pages use the 1958 plans though with updated typography. The text is also identical to the 1958 guide with the addition, ‘Since 1984 Yarmouth Castle has been in the care of English Heritage’.

The back cover of this guide bears the Gateway marketing.


1985 (repr. 1987, 1990)

The present English Heritage guidebook is essentially the same as the 1985 publication except with a colour cover (most recently reprinted in 2012).

Temple Manor: guidebook


1962 (5th impress. 1970)

Temple Manor at Strood near Rochester in Kent was founded in the 13th century by the Knights Templar (though the manor was given to them in the reign of King Henry II). It stood on the main route between Dover and London, close to the Medway crossing.

Temple Manor was placed in State Guardianship in 1950, and the guide was prepared by S.E. Rigold (1962). The guidebook consists of a history followed by a description. A foldout plan inside the back cover has plans of the ground and first floors. There are black and white photographs and a double spread of an engraving of the manor by Catherine Thorpe (1767). The cover shows a 13th seal of the Templars.

Rigold’s guidebook continues to be in print as an English Heritage guide (repr. 2010).

Totnes Castle: Guidebook



Totnes Castle in Devon forms one of the Shell Keeps in Devon and Cornwall. The castle was placed in State Guardianship in 1947, and S.E. Rigold wrote the first MPBW pamphlet guide in 1952. This continued as the DOE pamphlet guide (1979) [8 pp.; price 5p] with the blue header making a reference to the fuller ‘blue guides’ available at other sites.


1987 (2nd ed. 1990)

This was expanded, with very slightly adapted text as an English Heritage guide (1983; 2nd ed. 1990 [30p]). It doubled in length and included black and white photographs, a single page plan, and a reconstruction by Alan Sorrell. The description now preceded the history.