Castle Hill, Devon

Castle Hill as it is today and below how it was before the fire of 10th March 1934

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Sir Martin Fortescue obtained Castle Hill when he married Elizabeth Denzille of Filleigh, Wear-Gifford, and other properties on 10 Sep 1454. She was the heiress of Richard Denzille of Filleigh, Wear Gifford and Buckland Filleigh. They lived at Filleigh, the present Castle Hill. Martin was the first Fortescue to settle in North Devon. It is now the seat of  the Seat of Earl and Lady Arran. The mansion at Castle Hill was rebuilt by Arthur Fortescue in 1683 and by his son Hugh in 1694, but still incorporates some of the masonry of the ancient Filleigh manor-house. The wings of the house, its facade, and the elaborate lay-out of the grounds were however the work of another Hugh Fortescue, in whose favour the barony of Clinton was called out of abeyance in 1721. He was at first active in politics, and a supporter of Walpole, but from 1730 until his death in 1752 devoted himself to the remaking of his house. Almost all his internal decoration, the work of French plasterers, perished in the fire of 1934, but much of his external work remains. He built a sham ruined castle on the hill behind, he terraced at great labour the slopes below, descending to a large sheet of water, and planted an avenue leading the eye to a ruined arch (destroyed last year in a gale). In place of a typical Devonshire landscape of farm buildings and small fields he made it into the most beautiful parkland in the county. Only two buildings could be seen from his house, Filleigh Church which he moved half a mile to the west, and a ruined village (built as a picturesque ruin) above the wooded Bray valley more than a mile to the south-east. This Lord Clinton had no children, his heir being his much younger half-brother Matthew, Lord Fortescue. It was he in 1772 built the temple, on property formerly known as Holwell, which must at one time have become alienated from the ancient manor of Bradbury, and had been bought by Hugh Fortescue in 1710. The Temple was a memorial to Lord Clinton, and could be seen from Castle Hill, three-quarters of a mile away, until the trees concealed it. Unhappily it was burnt out some years ago, but is its restoration is nearly complete. It has a great portico with columns 25 feet high, and corresponding pilasters on the side which looks down the Bray. The occupants had to be content with windows on the south and east only. It formerly had a lawn in front, and must have been a charming and romantic a house as one could wish, a fitting memorial, not only to the man who made the landscape which is such a delight today, but also to an age of elegance which can never return.

Castle Hill in 1832

Stylish Print with Coat of Arms on page 131 of Thomas Fortescue’s Lord Clermont’s Book. Printed as the seat of the Earl Clinton in 1749 in the Universal Magazine

The  St Peters Church Filleigh contains many memorials to the Fortescue Family

Dedicated to John William Fortescue (1819 – 1859) and John Fortescue (1790 – 1869)


 Dedicated to Commander Henry Fortescue (1796 – 1875) and Family


Memorial To Hugh First Earl Fortescue (1753 – 1841) & Hester Grenville (1769 – 1847)


Memorial to Lucy Aylmer ( 1687-1767)