ONE of many Plymouth streets in this area to be named after castles, Rougemont Close owes its name to a Norman fortification that stands in the middle of Exeter; indeed the structure has often been called Exeter Castle.
However, it is as Rougemont Castle that Shakespeare referred to it in Richard III and that is how most people know it today.
Built soon after the Norman invasion – Exeter had rebelled against William the Conqueror – Rougemont takes its name from the red stone on which the structure stands, and of which the original castle was largely constructed. Most of the internal buildings have long since been swept away – they were cleared in 1773 and replaced with a Georgian Courthouse, but the Norman gatehouse remains.
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Until recently the presence of the Courthouse meant that there was little public access to this Scheduled Ancient Monument, but the recent relocation of the courts has changed that.
Curiously, perhaps the most famous trial here took place in an earlier courthouse (built in 1606) when in the 1680s the last four witches in England were tried here.
They were found guilty and subsequently hanged at Heavitree.
Other events to have been staged here include, in May 1832, the first Annual Exhibition of the Devon Agricultural Society (forerunner of the Devon County Show) and, more recently, a concert by Coldplay (whose founder, Chris Martin is a local boy).