This inland town, situated on the south side of the River Dart, was already well established in the 10th century and had its own mint and ‘Witan’ or court of wise men, but by 1068 a new order took over,
in the person of Judel the Breton.
He was one of William the Conqueror’s commanders and it is not know as to whether he took part
in the Battle of Hastings in 1066, but he was granted Totnes and other lands in 1068 and built a motte and bailey castle here. The following year, he marched under the Conqueror’s banner in the assault against the northern Earls, termed, ‘Harrying of the North’, a well documented massacre
of the people in the north of England.
Shortly after the Conqueror’s death in 1087, Judel joined the rebels, Bishop Odo, Rorbert de Mortain and Robert de Bellême, to oust King William II (Rufus) in favour of Duke Robert II (Curthose) of Normandy.
Rufus crushed the rebellion in the following year and confiscated Judel’s lands in favour of Rufus’s friend, Roger de Nonant who may have started to strengthen the keep and other defences at this time.
By 1196 the property came into the hands of William de Braose, Judel’s grandson. No significent change seemes to have taken place here until about 1326, when the property passed to William, Baron Zouche of Harringworth. It was while under his ownership the shell Keep was rebuilt and faced with sandstone and the stone curtain was either repaired or rebuilt together with other buildings.
Over the following centuries it gradually fell into disrepair as it was not of any military importance.
It is now in the care of English Heritage and is open to the public.
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