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Hemyock Castle
Ancient Heart of the Blackdowns

Feudal, Medieval and Castle Terms (C to E)




Valuable wood from windfallen trees or substantial branches. Especially following the great gale of 1222 which devastated woodland throughout England.

Caltrop, Caltrap, Calthrop:

Small device scattered on the ground to injure and make any passing horses lame (or later to puncture rubber tyres). It has four metal spikes forming the four corners of a tetrahedron so that one metal spike will always points upwards. Manufactured by setting the spikes in an iron ball, or by simply joining the spikes together.


A law or body of laws of a church. Member of a clerical group living according to a canon or rule.

Canonical Hours, Liturgy of the Hours, Breviary:

In Christianity, division of each day into the times of regular prayers. These can vary in different seasons & in different parts of Christianity. They have changed over the centuries.

The terms Liturgy of the Hours & Breviary normally refer to the psalms, hymns & prayers etc. designated for each of the hours.

  • Vigil / Matins : (nighttime / eighth hour of night) 2 – 3 am
  • Lauds (dawn / early morning) 5 – 6 am ending at dawn
  • Prime: (first hour) ~6 am shortly before daybreak (abolished by 2nd Vatican Council 1962-5)
  • Terce: (third hour) ~9 am
  • Sext: (noon, sixth hour) Time of midday meal in winter
  • Nones: (ninth hour) 3 pm
  • Vespers: (sunset) ~6 pm Lighting of the lamps; Need to eat supper before dark
  • Compline: (end of day) ~7 pm Retiring; Before monks go to bed

Welsh political and administrative division, similar to English shires.

Cardinal Virtues:

Prudence, Temperance, Fortitude and Justice.

Cart-load (also called load):

Weight. See: fother.


Dane law term. A measurement of land, equivalent to a hide. The amount of land that could be tilled during the ploughing season using a team of eight oxen. Varied in different regions and soil types. Approx. 120 acres. Sub-divided into four virgates or eight oxgangs.


Typically, a medieval "castle" was a private stronghold also used as an occasional residence by the owner. Often, the castle would be occupied by a garrison and the owner would live in more comfort elsewhere.

Following the advent of gunpowder and powerful cannon, many castles fell into disuse. Some were replaced by "forts" which housed only their garrisons.


Large war engine for throwing stones.

Cathedral Church:

The church of the diocese where a Bishop has his throne (cathedra) and where he presides. Simplified to Cathedral.


Official in a monastery or castle responsible for provisioning and catering. Often assisted by a sub-cellarer.


The opening in a wall in which the waste from one or more Garderobes was collected.


Officer of the royal household. He was responsible for the Chamber, meaning that he controlled access to the person of the King. He was also responsible for administration of the household and the private estates of the King. The Chamberlain was one of the four main officers of the court, the others being the Chancellor, the Justiciary, and the Treasurer.


Officer of the Royal Household who served as the monarch's secretary or notary. The Chancellor was responsible for the Chancery, the arm of the royal government dealing with domestic and foreign affairs. Usually the person filling this office was a Bishop chosen for his knowledge of the law.

Chantry, Chantry Chapel:

Building, or dedicated area of a church, where masses were chanted for particular departed souls; with the hope of reducing their time in purgatory on their path to heaven. They were often richly endowed. Chantries were abolished in 1545 & 1547 by Kings Henry VIII & Edward VI during the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

Margaret and her third husband, Sir Peter de Uvedale, funded and endowed a perpetual Chantry in Hemyock Parish Church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Saint Katherine; for their souls and those of her parents.

Charter of Franchise:

Documents granting liberty to a serf by his lord. The term also applies to the freedom granted to the inhabitants of a town or borough. The issue of a Charter of Franchise freed the town from servitude to feudal lords.

Charter Town:

Town granted a Charter.


A type of hard flint stone used in some Devonshire buildings and fortifications such as Hemyock Castle.

Cheminage, Chiminage:

Toll charged for passage through a (royal) forest. Also, an offering to placate a "spirit."

Christmas Day:

25th December. Feast of the Birth of Jesus. A quarter day.

Cistercian Order:

Monastic order which follows an especially strict form of the Benedictine rule. Monks take vows of personal poverty, chastity and obedience to their abbot and the Benedictine Rule. Also known as White Monks.

In medieval times, their wish for total seclusion from secular life led them to establish communities in remote areas. However, sometimes when they had been granted land by the local lord, they insisted that all of the former inhabitants were moved away. This caused much resentment. Dunkeswell Abbey, near Hemyock, was a Cistercian community.

Apart from their religious role, some medieval monasteries became centres of learning and industry. Partly out of the need for extra funds to support their religious duties, some orders, especially the Cistercians, used their overseas connections to import novel industrial processes and to develop overseas markets.

Recent research in Yorkshire suggests that one Cistercian community was close to developing a blast furnace for smelting iron, hundreds of years before this technology powered the Industrial Revolution.

Civil Wars (British):



Term used to include all members of religious orders. The clergy were generally exempt from jurisdiction of civil courts as well as from military service. See also Benefit of Clergy.

Close, Close of Land, Cathedral Close:

Piece of land enclosed by a boundary. Also a dead end, cul-de-sac road with only one entrance.

Cathedral close: The land and buildings immediately surrounding & controlled by a cathedral, often enclosed by a wall.


1. Wall building technique using mud, strengthened with straw and horse hair etc. Formerly common in Devon. Probably used for domestic buildings within Hemyock Castle.

2. Sturdy type of horse for riding and draught. Eg. Welsh Cob.

Cold Harbour:

A night shelter for traveller, particularly pilgrims, using a nearby road. (From the Saxon.)

Common Law:

The body of law based on custom and judicial decisions rather than on statutes. See also customary law, equity and statute law.

Commune Concilium:

Norman equivalent of Anglo Saxon Witan. Decisions taken at such meetings, either judicial or military, were binding on the vassals.


The public or private acknowledgement of sinfulness regarded as necessary to obtain divine forgiveness.


The title of an officer given command of an army or an important garrison. Also the officer who commanded in the King's absence.

Copyhold, Copyholder:

A customary tenure of land, in return for a designated service to the lord or landowner, such as four days work per year. Later, such service was often commuted to an equivalent rent. Details of the tenure were described in the book or roll, such as the manorial court roll, kept by the steward. The tenant, the copyholder, was given a copy of the entry showing these details.


A projecting block of stone built into a wall during construction, for supporting a weight such as a parapet.

Corn Dolly:

Traditional decorative item or figure constructed after harvest using cut straw, usually from cereal crops.


Dues paid by a serf, usually as labour, in return for use of his lord's land.


Simple shelter or cottage.

Cottager, Cottar:

Peasant of lower rank, with a cottage, but with little or no land. He was required to work on his lord's land or to provide a service to his lord.


Continental equivalent of the English Earl. Ranks second only to Duke.


The English Shire.

County Palatine:

See Palatinate.

Court of Common Pleas:

A common law court to hear pleas involving disputes between individuals. Almost all civil litigation was within its term of reference, as was supervision of manorial and local courts.


An Irish dwelling residing on a natural or man-made island.


To add Battlements. A Licence to Crenellate was royal permission to fortify a manor house. King Richard II granted the Licence to Crenellate Hemyock Castle, on 5th November 1380.


Religiously inspired medieval military expeditions, usually to the Middle East, "to free the Holy Sites from the Infidel."

There were eight main crusades, proclaimed by the various Popes and rulers:

  1. 1096-99: Pope Urban II: To aid the Greeks against Seljuk Turks, liberate Jerusalem and the "Holy Land" from the Seljuks, and safeguard pilgrim routes to the Holy Sepulchre
  2. 1147-48: Pope Eugeneus III: To aid the crusader states following the Muslim re-conquest of Edessa in 1144
  3. 1189-92: Pope Gregory VIII: Following Saladin's victory at the battle of Hattin in 1187 and his subsequent successes
  4. 1202-04: Pope Innocent III: To recover the "Holy Places"
  5. 1217-21: Pope Innocent III: When the six year truce with Egypt expired
  6. 1228-29: Emperor Frederick II: He had married the heiress to the Kingdom of Jerusalem in 1225
  7. 1248-54: Pope Innocent IV: After the Egyptians and Khorezmians captured Jerusalem in 1244
  8. 1270-72: Proclaimed following Mameluk conquest of Arsuf, Caesarea, Haifa (1265), Antioch and Joppa (1268)

This was a very murky period, driven by fierce power struggles between European states and several competing European religious power groups. According to some accounts, the various religious groups in the Middle East had coexisted fairly peacefully until the crusades. The crusades caused lasting turmoil and hostilities.

Some accounts claim that some European monasteries and religious orders became very wealthy by acquiring the land and property of people who were raising money to fund the expense of joining the crusades.

However, many improvements in castle design, weapons, metals and other technologies were brought back by returning crusaders. Hemyock has features and archways similar to those of crusader castles in Jordan.


Religious ascetics. Culdee means "servant of god." Irish/Scottish preservers of old Gaelic Customs.


Small structure, often domed, on the roof of a building. Domed roof or ceiling. Protective domed cover over a gun turret in a ship or fort. (Seen in the 20th century forts of the French Maginot line.)

Curtain Wall:

Outer wall, usually incorporating defensive towers.

Customary Law, Medieval Custumals:

A form of common law, not necessarily backed by actual statutes or case law, where there was general agreement to abide by certain standards & practices. Medieval Custumals were written collections of the customary laws which applied in particular manors or boroughs. These became the legal definitions of rights, entitlements and obligations in those moanors & boroughs.


Welsh Language Name for itself.


Welsh name for the Welsh. (Cumree).


Danegeld or Danegelt:

The money paid by Anglo-Saxon Britain to persuade the Danes to not invade the South and West. Now means money extorted by threats.


A mud or clay mixture applied over wattle to strengthen and seal it. See also wattle and daub.


Domesday Book.


(or Domain) The part of the lord's manorial lands reserved for his own use and not allocated to his serfs or freeholder tenants. Serfs worked in the demesne for a specified numbers of days per week. The demesne could either be scattered among the serfs' land, or be a separate area, the latter being more common for meadow and orchard lands. In Devonshire, the lord's land was usually kept separate from the peasants' land. (Pronounced "de-main.") See also Inland, Outland, and Sokeland.


The Roman penny. Hence the abbreviation "d" for the English silver penny which for many centuries was the most common the coin in circulation. Although sometimes "clipped" or "debased," the English silver penny contained a standard weight of silver and so could be traded across Europe.

Dere Street:

Roman road from Lincoln, via York, to the Antonine Wall near Edinburgh.


Warhorse. (Because a squire would lead the horse using his right hand.)


A district subject to the jurisdiction of a Bishop/Archbishop. The name is derived from the administrative districts created by the Roman Emperor Diocletian.

Dissolution of the Monasteries, Suppression of the Monasteries:

Henry VIII's administrative and legal processes between 1536 and 1541 which disbanded monasteries, priories, convents and friaries in England, Wales and Ireland, appropriated their income, disposed of their assets, and provided for their former personnel and functions. Included:

  • Act of Supremacy, 1534
  • First Suppression Act, 1535
  • Second Suppression Act, 1539

Many properties were sold, often to favourites. The 12,000 monks and nuns were granted pensions.


Permission to neglect a rule, often issued for church rules.

Domesday Book:

Comprehensive record of all land holdings in England, compiled in about 1086 by order of King William the Conqueror - apparently to discover the patterns of land ownership.

Domesday Inquest:

The comprehensive survey of all land holdings in England, compiled in 1086 by order of King William the Conqueror - apparently to assist in the raising of taxes. Copies of the results were kept by the Exchequer and used to plan the re-adjustment of the levels of taxes and tax reliefs. Used in the preparation of the Domesday Book.


Original name for the keep or main tower. Prisoners were often kept in the lowest part - hence Dungeon.

Double Monastery:

Combined monastery for men and women but sexually separated. Ruled by either an abbot or abbess.


Name given to a free peasant in Northumbria and sometimes in Yorkshire and Lancashire. The name usually implies that land was held in return for military service.


Heavy timber platform built to span a moat between a gate house and surrounding land that could be raised using ropes or chains, to block the entrance, when required. Hemyock Castle is believed to have had a counter-weighted drawbridge, pivoted at the inner end.


Title from the Roman Dux, which has been held over from Roman time by the ruler of a district called a duchy. In England the title is reserved for members of the royal family.


Scottish or Irish single family hill fort.


The jail, usually found in one of the towers. Often built as a pit entered only via a grill in its roof. Often foul, damp and airless. Hemyock Castle had dungeons. See also Donjon.



The highest title attainable by an English nobleman who is not of royal blood. Also known in earlier times as Ealdorman. Word related to Jarl.


Republic of (Southern) Ireland.


Splayed opening in a wall for a window. Also the low segment of the alternate high and low segments of a Battlement. Provided protection to people within the wall.


Advantages. Now usually refers to salary or fees arising from employment.


Enclosed compound containing eg. monastic buildings.


To take someone into vassalage where they will render a certain service in return for a fee or fief.


Restrict the future inheritance of an owner's lands & property, eg. only to their lineal descendants.


English Place Name Society. Now also: Electroplated nickel silver.

Equity (Law):

System of jurisprudence based on principles of fair conduct and natural justice. This can provide a remedy where none exists in law. It supplements common law and mitigates its inflexibility. See also common law, customary law and statute law.

Ermine Street:

Roman road from London to Lincoln.


Ancient Irish Language.


Right of a feudal lord to the return of lands held by his vassal, or the holding of a serf, should either die without lawful heirs or suffer outlawry.


The right to gather wood.


Financial department of the royal government. The chief officers of the Exchequer were the Treasurer, the Chancellor and the Justiciar. Sheriffs, in their role as regional chief accountants, presented reports to the exchequer at Easter and Michaelmas.

Originally, accounts were verified by placing wooden tallies in the boxes marked on a check table cloth, hence the Exchequer. Chequers, the official country residence of the Prime Minister of the UK probably takes its name from the Exchequer checker-board pattern on the coat of arm of a previous owner, Elias Ostiarius.

Although Treasury officials had been instructed in 1726 to use paper records rather than tallies, wooden tallies were still used until the dissolution of the Court of Exchequer, in 1826. On 16th October 1834, two officials burning obsolete tally sticks in the cellars caused a fire which burned down most of the British Houses of Parliament. The Houses of Parliament were finally rebuilt between 1852 and 1870. They were bombed in 1941 and rebuilt after WWll.


Exclusion from the membership of the church or from communion with faithful Christians. Those judged "tolerati" could still mingle with the faithful, but those "vitandi" could not and were exiled. See also Anathema.


Right of the King (or justices acting in his name) to visit and inspect the holdings of any vassal. This was done periodically, usually at irregular intervals of a few years.

Other Hemyock Glossaries:

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Hemyock Castle, Hemyock, CULLOMPTON, Devon, EX15 3RJ, UK.
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