In a moment of rest I turned from my ride
Down some old lane in a summery twist;
A sign by the roadside stole all of my interest
And lured me this way by the look of its name.
Castle Camps tells a tale of curious complexion,
Suggesting in words some ancient foundation
Of Britons and Romans in robust aggression
Fighting their battles; foe-men long before.
Yet no, not quite here, in this old quiet corner
Cradled in Cambridgeshire calm in the sun;
Here is some noble Norman foundation
Nestling in nettles, nonchalant now.
Yet I knew this place when it well known,
When de Vere and his men walked here and rode there;
Lords of a landscape flat and unlauded,
Drawing the tithes and troubling the serfs.
But then darkness came, doleful and deadly,
A breath on the breeze bringing Black Death;
Creeping and cold it came without welcome
To kill without warning those hardworking folk.
Now I see little of that land which I loved,
Its people with ploughs perfecting the land;
They have all gone, and the village abandoned,
Just its lumps and bumps and nettles in clumps.
Yet the church is still there, a chilling reminder –
And so too the castle, though I cannot see much –
Of the village which once vibrated with life
In this harp-shaped haven in the heart of the land
I once knew.
All silent is the village now
The people far and few;
Yet if my mind will still allow,
They talk to me anew.
About Castle Camps
Castle Camps in Cambridgeshire demonstrates the close relationship between the religious and the secular, between church and castle, in what is now a deserted mediaeval village. The church of All Saints appears to sit over an older bailey to the main, moated castle ringwork (now on private land, housing Castle Farm); it is likely that the church was built when the bailey was expanded some time in the thirteenth century.
The main village is abandoned with the population at some point migrating to Camps Green nearby; it is unclear whether this was as a consequence of plague or whether this was to do with the expansion of a mediaeval park (or both). It is difficult to interpret the layout of the village itself as much is overgrown but the relationship between church and castle is well-stated even today. The size of the ringwork and its proximity to the church gives a strong indication of former wealth; not altogether unexpected with the de Vere connection.
Historic England Listing Detail with map and history click here
Images of Castle Camps, Cambridgeshire (slide show)