Bridgwater Castle was built between 1200 and 1210. Its walls were 12 to 15 feet thick and it was surrounded by a 30 foot moat. On the north side this was known as the Common Ditch, the other two sides being the Castle Ditch. The castle’s boundaries are marked today by the river on the east side, Fore Street from the bridge to the Cornhill on the south, by Chandos Street to the north and Castle Moat on the west. The two entrances were the Watergate onto the river and the market gate opening to the Cornhill.
If you walk up today’s fine Georgian Castle Street, as you walk uphill from the river, you will be walking across what was the lower bailey. Reaching King Square at the top, the site of Bridgwater’s war memorial, this level ground marks the site of the upper bailey.
Visit the Bridgwater Castle Trail
In total an area of 10 acres, it was sufficient to hold up to 2000 troops, 3000 in times of strife.
King John used it on occasions when he came for the hunting in North Petherton Forest. Built of red Wembdon sandstone with fawn Ham stone for the ‘trim’, it had round towers on its corners and sat on a base of impervious blue lias.
Inside its walls were the church of St. Mark, a bell tower, dovecote and great hall. Mortemere’s Hall.
The castle survived until 1646 when, in the year after the Civil War reached Bridgwater, it was destroyed. Elements of it survive today, the most noteworthy being the Watergate entrance which can be found at the Watergate restaurant.
These details have been provided by Roger Evans, Bridgwater’s local author and historian.