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Hemyock Castle
Ancient Heart of the Blackdowns

Feudal, Medieval and Castle Terms (P to S)




Small enclosure where horses are kept & exercised; often close to the house or stables. Note. In Australia & New Zealand, it can mean a grassland field. See also Meadow, Pasture & Rangeland.


In England, a county in which the tenant in chief exercised powers normally reserved for the King, including the exclusive right to appoint justiciary, hold courts of chancery and exchequer, and to coin money. The King's writ was not valid in a County Palatinate.


Light saddled horse, often ridden by women.


Sturdy wooden fence usually built to enclose a site until a permanent stone wall could be constructed. Often built on a raised earth bank to give further protection. Sometimes these were built as an extra defence or as a temporary protection while a more permanent structure was being built.


Food such as acorns that swine (pigs), etc., feed on in the woods. The right to let your swine feed in the woods. Often restricted to a certain number of days per year or to a set period.

In the "New Forest" in Hampshire, "New Forest Commoners" still have this right. Each autumn their pigs eat the green acorns. This also protects the wild "New Forest" ponies from eating acorns and being poisoned.


Person licensed to sell papal pardons or indulgences, for past or future sins.

Party List Electoral System:

Form of proportional representation in a multi-member constituency, where voters vote for a political party rather than for a particular candidate. Each political party publishes their list of candidates. The election decides how many candidates to take from each party; and each party then declares which of their candidates have been elected.

This electoral system does not provide a clear link between individual voters & their representatives. However, the winning candidates sometimes decide amongst themselves how best to represent the different areas of the constituency; thereby improving the representation.


Toll (tax) levied for passage or wayleave.


Land where domesticated animals are grazed. Normally, this land is enclosed & managed; often the land is planted or seeded with special crops. See also Meadow & Rangeland.

Payage (or paage):

Toll (tax) levied on pasturage.


Volume. A dry measure of 2 gallons, or ¼ bushel.

Also, a "large" amount.

There is a saying that: We must all eat a peck of dirt before we die; Meaning that we must learn to put up with unpleasant things & experiences.

Pele Tower:

Tower stronghold without outer defensive walls. Common in the border areas of Scotland. Examples include Bonshaw Tower.


Also Pentise, Penthouse or Lean-to building.


Money paid for breaking the ground to set up booths at the fairs held at places such as market towns, charter towns and abbeys.


Modern term for a small enclosed fortified gun emplacement, normally constructed with reinforced concrete. See also Sangar.

Plough (Land of one plough):

The area of arable land capable of being tilled by one eight-oxen plough team. Equivalent to one Hide. But also used as a notional unit for taxation.


The holding of more than one church living at the same time.


Dagger with a slender blade.


Toll (tax) levied for crossing a bridge.


A heavy timber and iron grille suspended in special grooves in a gate house, in front of a gate, that could be dropped to block the gateway. The Hemyock gatehouse has a portcullis slot.

Postern Gate:

A side or less important gate into a castle. Often used for raids on besieging forces, or for escape. Traces of a postern gate have been found in the remains of Hemyock Castle's NW tower.

Pound, Avoirdupois (weight):

16 ounces (Avoirdupois), 7000 grains (Troy). Many other weights have been used at different times, in different places, and for weighing different materials.


The right of the eldest son to inherit the estate or office of his father.


Any religious house administered by a prior or prioress. If the prior was subject to a resident abbot, the house was called an abbey or monastery. The title prioress was held in certain religious houses for women. See also monastery.

Proportional Representation (PR):

Electoral system which aims to represent minorities better, by ensuring that the final proportions of representatives elected, better matches the proportions of voters in each part of the political spectrum. There are many different types of proportional representation, including:

  • Mixed Member Proportional, also known as Additional Member Proportional.
  • Party List also known as Closed List.
  • Single Transferable Vote.

Fairer to minority parties; but more complicated to administer & slower to produce the winners. Because constituencies usually have to be larger and to return several representatives each, there is often a weaker link between the individual voters & their representatives. Also proportional representation often means that political parties have to form coalitions of parties, rather than forming a government from a single party. Coalition governments are often less stable & less able to introduce difficult policies... although that also means that they are less likely to do daft things! See also: First Past the Post.

Putlog Hole:

A hole intentionally left in the surface of a wall for insertion of a horizontal pole. Such holes held scaffolding used during construction, floor joists, or supported hourdings. Hemyock Castle has many such holes.


Quarter (weight):

2 stones ie. 28 pounds.

Quarter Days:

Days when rents and taxes were due.

  • Lady Day: 25th March (Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin).
  • Midsummer Day: 24th June (Feast of St. John the Baptist).
  • Michaelmas Day: 29th September (Feast of St. Michael the Archangel).
  • Christmas Day: 25th December (Feast of the Birth of Jesus).

In September 1752, the English calendar was reformed and 11 days were "lost." Also, the official first day of the civil year was moved from Lady Day to 1st January. However, the English tax year which had started on Lady Day, the official first day of the old civil and legal year, just moved 11 days to the 6th April. This is still the official start of the tax year (although some parts of government use other dates).

See also New Year's Day and Scottish Term Days.


Exempt, normally from specific taxes or duties. Also acknowledgement of payment.


Exemption, normally from specific taxes or duties. Also a receipt or acknowledgement of payment.



Battering-ram. Also the reinforced projection from the bows of some warships.


Defensive earth or stone wall surrounding castle.


Land where domesticated animals are grazed. Normally, this land is not enclosed or managed; often it will have natural vegetation. See also Meadow & Pasture.


Sussex equivalent of a hundred.


Money given or pledged for the performance of a legal obligation to do, or not to do, some particular act.


Royal official, or a manor official appointed by the lord or elected by the peasants.

Reform Act, First Reform Act, Great Reform Act, Third Reform Bill:

1832 British Act of Parliament which abolished many of the unacceptable voting practices, & introduced a much more uniform level of representation; especially in the growing industrial towns. But it also excluded women, even property owners, from the voting franchise. It also excluded those men who did not meet its minimum property qualification level; mostly the working class. The Second Reform Act 1867 resolved some of these problems.

In 1928, the voting franchise was finally extended equally to all men & women aged over 21 years; The 1918 Representation of the People Act had extended it to all men over 21 but only to some women aged over 30.

Some Principal British Acts of Parliament about Voting Reforms:
  • 1832 "First Reform Act": Abolished unacceptable voting practices; made representation much more uniform. But restricted voting to men only.

  • 1867 "Second Reform Act": Reduced the minimum property qualification; enfranchised more of the urban working-class men; redistributed Parliamentary seats.

  • 1868 Representation of the People (Scotland) Act: Extended reforms to Scotland, and also further redistributed English seats.

  • 1868 Representation of the People (Ireland) Act: Extended reforms to Ireland.

  • 1884 "Third Reform Act": Further reduced the minimum property qualification; enfranchised more urban working-class men; redistributed Parliamentary seats; made representation fairer between urban & rural areas; changed to the modern system of electing only one member of parliament from each constituency. 60% of male householder could now vote.

  • 1885 Redistribution of Seats Act: Redistributed seats to give more representation to urban areas, especially to London.

  • 1918 "Fourth Reform Act": Most women over 30; all men over 21; some service & ex-service men over 19; could now vote. Some seats were redistributed.

  • 1928 "Fifth Reform Act" aka Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act: All men & women over 21 could now vote.


Fee paid by the heir of a deceased person on securing possession of a fief. Effectively, inheritance tax. The amount demanded was determined by tradition.


Administrative unit of land. Third part of a shire, eg. the Yorkshire Ridings (North Riding, East Riding, West Riding) which were established in the 9th century by the Danes. (Not necessarily exactly a third.)

Ridge Finial:

Traditional decorative item or figure made using cut straw, fixed to a thatched roof or thatched hayrick. Often (loosely) called a Corn Dolly.


A random mixture of rocks and mortar, often used to fill the space between inner and outer faces of walls. See also mortar.



Weight. Five fotmal (of lead). A sack of wool was 364 pounds. But other commodities used different weights: For example, a sack of grain was 280 pounds.

Sally Port:

Special protected, hidden entrance which allows the defenders of a castle to sally.

Also, a dock where boats from anchored ships landed and embarked crews. There is a sally port in Old Portsmouth's defensive walls, between the Round and Square towers, just outside the entrance to the harbour, so easier to reach without having to battle against the strong tidal currents in the main harbour.

Samhain Eve:

Hallowe'en. 31st October. Eve of All Saints Day. See also Beltane Eve.

Sanctuary (Right of):

Temporary protection of fugitives from pursuit, pending investigation or exile. By reaching a church or certain land under church jurisdiction, a fugitive from the king's justice could claim refuge for forty days after which they had to leave its safety and submit to justice or abjure the realm as an outlaw. Some church buildings had large Sanctuary Rings or door knockers. Some had marker posts showing the extent of the safe area.

This right was widely abused by fugitives and their pursuers. It was later repealed. See also Asylum.


Modern term for a breastwork of earth, stone or concrete. Often used for a small Pillbox.


Undermining of a wall, above or below ground, by attackers. One siege technique was to dig a tunnel under the castle walls and support the tunnel roof with timbers. Setting fire to the timbers would collapse the tunnel – and the wall.

Rectangular towers like those at Bodiam castle were more easily damaged by undermining than the round towers of Hemyock Castle.


Temporary wooden framework built next to a wall to support both workers and materials.

Scottish Term Days:

Quarter days.

  • Candlemas: 2nd February
  • Whitsun: 15th May
  • Lammas: 1st August (also a harvest festival)
  • Martinmas: 11th November

See also New Year's Day and Quarter Days.

Screens, Screens Passage:

Wooden partition at the lower or kitchen end of a great hall. The screens passage lay between it and the kitchen etc. Sometimes, there was a minstels' gallery above the passage. Traces still remain at Hemyock.

The normal entrance was at the far end of the hall away from the lord's high table, the low end, via the screens passage. Often, there would be a private entrance at the high end, leading to the lord's solar or private chambers.

From about the 1100s, this layout replaced the earlier design used from about the 500s, in which the main entrance to a hall would have been at the centre of a long side, opposite a central hearth.


Small wallet or bag carried by monks and pilgrims.


Sum that the holder of a knight's fee could pay his lord in lieu of military service. Sometimes used as a form of tax.


Bonded peasant who worked his lord's demesne and paid him certain dues in return for the use of land, the possession of which (not the ownership) was heritable, and protection. These dues, usually called corvee, were usually in the form of labour on the lord's land. Generally this averaged three days a week. Some serfs worked as craftsmen, provided transport or other specialized service.

Usually, serfs were bonded to the land rather than to a particular lord: This meant that they could not be sold to a new "owner" unless the relevant parcel of land was also sold. Serfs were generally classified as: Cottagers, small-holders, or villeins although villeins originally meant free peasants who were burdened with additional rents and services.


Servant who accompanied his lord to battle, or a horseman of lower status used as light cavalry. Also meant a type of non knightly "tenure in service" owed to a lord. Such persons might carry the lord's banner, serve in the wine cellar, make bows/arrows, or any of a dozen other occupations. Sergeants paid the feudal dues of wardship, marriage, and relief but were exempt from scutage (non knightly).


Communal sales tables or bench in a market, particularly a meat market. Also a butcher's slaughterhouse. Some shambles market tables were protected by a roof. Uffculme near Hemyock has a shambles building.


Also called Viscount. Official who was the chief administrative and judicial officer of a shire. Many of his jobs were carried out by the itinerant justice, coroner, and justice of the peace. He collected taxes and forwarded them on to the exchequer, after taking his share. He was also responsible for making sure that the King's table was well stocked while King was in his county (ie Royal Game Preserve). In Devonshire, the post was usually hereditary.


Measure of money used for accounting purposes and equal to 12 old pennies. Until modern times, there was no actual coin. (Now replaced by 5 new pence.)

Shippen, shipen, shippon:

Cow parlour, shed or barn. (Term used especially in Devon.)


English county. The shire court conducted the administrative, judicial and financial business of people living in the county.

Short Ton (weight):

2000 pounds.


Military tactic that involved the surrounding and isolation of a castle, town or army by another army until the trapped forces were starved or frightened into surrender. Hemyock Castle was besieged and captured by the Royalist forces in 1644, during the Civil War.

In 1373, while Sir William Asthorpe was Keeper of the Channel Islands, Mont Orgueil (then known as Gurri or Gorey Castle) was besieged by a large French force led by In 1373, Bertrand du Guesclin, Constable of France, (also called "The Sword of France") and Duc du Bourbon.


The buying or selling of spiritual things, particularly church livings, offices and benefices.

Single Member Constituency:

Electoral system where each constituency (electoral area) elects only one representative; meaning that the representative is more closely associated with their voters.

Single Transferable Vote:

Form of proportional representation where each voter has only one vote in a multi-member constituency but can also state preferences for other candidates if their first choice is unsuccessful. To win, a candidate needs their total number of votes and preferences to exceed the quota. At each stage of the count, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and the second preferences of people who votes for that losing candidate are given to their second choice. The same happens to any surplus votes when a candidate's total exceeds the quota. This process continues until all vacancies for the multi-member constituency have been filled by winning candidates.


Property of his lord, or occasionally of a wealthier peasant. Normally had no land or other property. Could be bought and sold. People were sometimes "sold into slavery" or forced to accept it because of misfortune, poverty or as a punishment for crime. See also serf.

In 1086, Devon seems to have had a high proportion of slaves – almost one in five people – and church lands often had the highest numbers of slaves.


Destruction of (captured enemy) fortifications, to prevent their future use (by enemies). Widespread after the English Civil War. Hemyock Castle was slighted at this time, reputedly on the orders of King Charles II.

Slipper Chapel:

Chapel on the route to a holy shrine or well. Possibly where pilgrims removed their shoes. Possibly marking the entrance to holy land.


Arrow-slit. Narrow opening in a wall for discharge of arrows and admittance of light. See also arrow-loop.

Small Holder:

Middle ranking peasant, farming more land than a cottager but less than a villein. A typical small holder would have 10-20 acres of land, often as separate strips in different fields. He was also required to work on his lord's land or to provide a service to his lord. Also known as a Bordar.


Term in Northern Danelaw for land considered to be the property of the occupying peasants, rather than the lord. See also Inland and Outland.


Another name for a free villager, especially in Danelaw regions.


Upper level private withdrawing room, often on a balcony over the great hall, used by the lord and his guests. The Hemyock manor house still has traces of the old solars above the great hall. Long ago, the great hall was converted to form two storeys.

Spiral Staircase:

Compact staircase often built into the walls of castles. Usually designed so that attackers climbing a clockwise staircase would find it hard to fight with their right hand, whilst descending defenders would have their right (sword) arm free.


Tax levied on trading booths or stalls at markets and fairs. Not paid by hawkers or peddlers.

Statute Law:

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


Man responsible for running the day to day affairs of the manor or castle in absence of the lord. See also Bailiff.

Stone (weight):

Usually 14 pounds Avoirdupois, as decreed by King Edward III in 1340 when Flemish / Florentine measures were adopted to aid England's vital international wool trade.

Other definitions have been used in other places and for different materials. At least two of these survived into the 20th century:

  • "Dead Stone" or "Butcher's Stone": 8 pounds. Used in London markets such as Smithfields for weighing beef and mutton, until about 1939; Officials had been instructed to stop "Stamping" (confirming the accuracy of) weighing scales which used this measurement, after 1935.
  • "Live Stone": 14 pounds. Used for weighing live cattle and sheep.
  • Stone of glass: 5 pounds.
Suffrage, Universal Suffrage, Women's Suffrage:

The right to vote in elections; particularly its extension to permit women & everyone to vote.


Supporter of the universal right to vote in elections, universal suffrage, particularly its extension to include women, women's suffrage.


Militant supporter of women's rights to vote in elections, women's suffrage. Especially members of the British Women's Social & Political Union (WSPU), led by Emmeline Pankhurst. Note. Suffrajettes in USA were less militant.


Measurement of land in Kent. Roughly equal to two hides, although still considered to be the area of land which could be cultivated using a single plough-team of eight oxen.

Summoner, Apparator:

Officer of ecclesiastical court responsible for arresting or serving summons on accused people; also taking possession of disputed property, executing the judge's sentence.

Also, someone who practices evocation, the act of calling upon or summoning a spirit or deity.


Packhorse, pony, mule or other animal.

Other Hemyock Glossaries:

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