Castles of England/Print Version

The Development of the Castle


A traditional image of a castle under siege, but was it really like this?

The traditional medieval castle has long inspired the imagination, conjuring up images of jousts, banquets and Arthurian chivalry. Even standing amidst thousand year-old ruins it is easy to bring to mind the sounds and smells of battles long gone, to almost hear the clatter of hooves on the cobbles and to smell the fear rising from the dungeon pits. But is our imagination based on reality? Why were castles built in the first place? How were they designed and built? Who lived in them? This book will try and answer those questions for you...

Historical Context

Mousa Broch, an early stone tower built perhaps 1,000 years before the first castles

Fortifications of one sort or another have been in use in England since at least the Iron Age (6th century BC) with remains of ditches, ramparts and palisades still in evidence. Scotland is scattered with brochs, stone towers built for defence, raised at least 1,000 years before the first medieval castles. Historians do not consider these structures to be castles - in this book the definition we use of a castle is that it was both the home of its owner, and a fortification designed to protect the owner's lands and holdings.

Where did the need for large, permanent, fortified homes come from? The answer to that lies in the feudal system.

The Feudal System

It was the development of the feudal system that led directly to the development of what we recognise today as a castle. Before about the 9th century, "kingdoms" were generally small and could be easily governed by one ruler. It was Charlemagne, the king of the Franks, who changed this. His empire, which stretched across much of central Europe in the 8th - 9th century BC, was too large for him to rule effectively. So he began the practice of breaking it down into small administrative units, each governed by a lord or nobleman. In return for being allocated land, each lord was required to provide soldiers to Charlemagne in time of war.

Charlemagne's successor, Louis the Pious, king of Aquitaine, had three heirs (Lothair, Pepin and Louis the German) who split the empire between them. These new kings were faced with the threat of war with each other, enemies outside the old empire and from unrest within their own territories. At around the same time the Franks invented the stirrup, allowing armoured men to fight effectively from horseback. This lead to the changes in social order we would recognise as typical of the medieval period with knights on horseback serving a lord.

The feudal system developed to support this military hierarchy, creating a social hierarchy with the king at the top, then the nobles, then the knights and finally the serfs or peasants. The king owned all the land, but "lent" it to those below him, who lent it to those below them in the system. In return a portion of the products of the land were paid to those higher in the system. The system was in effect providing an income to the warriors and nobles higher in the hierarchy to pay them for protecting those lower in the hierarchy.

The advantages of this system to the king are clear. Not only would he have forces available when required, and a constant income without having to administer all of the lands himself, he had also ensured no noble could individually afford a large enough army to threaten his rule. He has also ensured that every area of his lands would be constantly defended in the event of invasion.

To make this system work, each noble needed a home within their lands. As these were dangerous times, and the noble could not afford to have a large standing army, this home needed to have strong defences that could be manned by a relatively small number of soldiers. And, thus, the castle was born.

Origins of Castles

Leeds Castle, originally of Norman design it was modified extensively throughout its life

The word Castle itself entered the English language in the 11th century AD, being adapted from the Norman word castel, broadly meaning "fort". The word had earlier entered Old English in a different form as ceaster, and can be found in the name of many English town as the suffices "caster" and "chester".

The exact date when the first castles were built is unknown. However, it is likely that the first buildings with the main features associated with castles were built between 850 and 900 AD.

The earliest castles were constructed by local nobles to defend their home or hall and its associated buildings. The construction would have taken the form of a ditch dug around the hall, with the earth banked up inside the ditch to form a steep slope. At some point, fences or a palisade of sharpened timber may have been built on top of the bank. Further developments might have included a lookout tower and a separate fence to protect the hall independently from the other, less important, buildings. In this way the basic shape of the castle can be discerned - a gate tower, a keep surrounded by an inner wall, and an outer wall enclosing all of the protected buildings.

During the 9th century, the Danes began to arrive in England and construct their own settlements. To resist further encroachment on his lands, Alfred the Great fortified the towns that lay on the border with the Danes' settlements, using ditches and ramparts. Meanwhile, Viking invaders of what was to become France were given land around Rouen. This group grew rapidly in strength expanding into the area later known as Normandy.

When Edward the Confessor's cousin, William, inherited Normandy in 1035 the links between Normandy and England were cemented. On Edward's death, Harold Goodwinson (the strongest of the nobles of England) took the throne sparking William to invade England in 1066. With the invasion came the beginning of the construction of what we recognise today as a true English castle...

Norman Castles

History of the Period

A model of Bedford castle. The distinctive motte with tower can be seen at the bottom left.

The Norman period began on 14 October 1066 when the invading forces of William, Duke of Normandy (later known as William the Conqueror) defeated the army of King Harold Godwinson at the Battle of Hastings. Harold's army had been weakened while winning the Battle of Stamford Bridge on 25 September 1066 against the army of King Harald III of Norway. After this initial victory, the southern part of England surrendered quickly to William's rule. It took six more years of battle to subdue the north.

In 1067 rebels in Kent attacked Dover Castle while Eadric the Wild, back my some Welsh lords, raised forces in western Mercia leading them against the Norman army based in Hereford. In 1068 rebels in Exeter were besieged by William who suffered serious losses before eventually negotiating the surrender of the town. This was followed by another revolt in western Mercia again backed by the Welsh and a separate uprising in Northumbria. It was during this period, as William travelled through England, that many castles were constructed as part of the war against the rebels.

In 1069 the Norman Earl of Northumbria and his army were attacked by rebels in Durham, all being slain. The rebels were this time supported by forces from Scotland who besieged York Castle and killed its castellan. William brought an army from the south and brought the revolt to an end during which the population of York was massacred. Following his victory William built a second castle at York.

Later in 1069 a Sweyn II of Denmark sent a fleet to England, the Danes joining forces with a new Northumbrian rebellion. The rebel forces seized both York castles but a probe into Lincolnshire was defeated by the Norman garrison there. At the same time other rebel forces from Cheshire and Shropshire attacked the castle at Shrewsbury while rebels in Dorset and Somerset besieged Montacute Castle.

Further unrest continued for nearly 20 years; it wasn't until 1088 that England was at peace.

The Norman period ended in 1154 with the death of King Stephen at Dover Castle. At the time of the Norman conquest, two basic castle forms had developed: the motte and bailey castle, and the enclosure castle.

Motte and Bailey Castles

Colchester Castle in Essex. It was constructed from bricks recycled from Roman fortifications

The most common type of Norman castle is the motte and bailey. It is constructed by raising a small hill, with a tower on top which is then surrounded by a fence or wall. This type of castle is relatively quick and easy to build. The tower and fence can be constructed of wood yet still offer a strong defence. The motte has to be carefully constructed to prevent its collapse. Usually layers of earth, stone and gravel were used to reinforce the surface.

Some motte and bailey castles were constructed with stone towers and walls. Some of these towers, often called Great Towers, have survived. The most well known are probably the White Tower, often known as the Tower of London and Colchester Castle in England's oldest recorded town. In both cases these were built from the reused remains of Roman fortifications.

Enclosure Castles

An enclosure castle is a development of the motte and bailey design and there is sometimes not a clear differentiation between the two. Broadly the wall of an enclosure castle forms part of the primary fortification and may include towers, gatehouses or a barbican.

Castles of the Period

Kenilworth Castle

History of the Castle

Kenilworth Castle

Kenilworth Castle is of Norman origin and was built in about 1120. The great tower was built later during the reign of Henry I by the Chief Justice of England, Geoffrey de Clinton (who had also been Lord Chamberlain and Treasurer to Henry I). The castle passed to Henry II in 1173. Henry ordered work to improve the strength of the castle and by about 1240 the castle was in its current form. It had been surrounded on three sides by a large artificial lake, known as the Mere, designed to keep siege engines out of range. It also created a formidable barrier for any attack.

After completing the works, the castle was granted to Simon de Montfort, who was later a prominent leader in the Second Barons' War. Kenilworth Castle was used as his base and was used as a prison for Prince Edward, the heir of Henry III. Edward escaped and later lead forces against de Montfort at Evesham, defeating them and killing de Montfort.

In 1266 the siege of Kenilworth Castle began, the longest in English history. The besiegers, lead by Lord Edward, were unable to breach the defenses and, after nearly a year, the dispute was settled by agreement. Henry III then passed the castle to his youngest son through him it was eventually inherited by John of Gaunt. John of Gaunt and is grandson, Henry V, slowly converted Kenilworth from a structure that was solely defensive to a more comfortable home.

Kenilworth Castle passed out of royal hands in 1563, becoming a possession of the Dudley family, before returning after his death. During the English Civil War the castle was captured by the Parliamentarians and later dismantled with the materials sold. After the restoration, the castle was passed to the Earl of Clarendon, who retained possession until 1937. Eventually the castle was given to English Heritage in 1984.

Design of the Castle

Layout of Kenilworth Castle by Charles Oman

Kenilworth Castle began as a motte and bailey castle with wooden walls. It is built on a rock knoll, surrounded by marsh land giving it a naturally strong position. As the castle was developed, the primary material used in the construction was sandstone, sourced from local quarries.

The Keep (A on the diagram) is the strongest part of the castle. The design spreads the enormous weight of the walls across a large area, making them far less likely to collapse if undermined. The walls are thick and were unlikely to be vulnerable to battering. The walls are looped and also contain a number of windows, the larger ones being added during the Tudor period when defensive strength was less important than comfort. The keep was entered through a forebuilding which was later converted to a gallery leading to the gardens.

Adjoining the keep are the kitchens and the Strong Tower. The kitchen was physically separate due to the fire risk and had accommodation for the domestic servants. The Strong Tower contained the main service facilities including the pantry and buttery.

John of Gaunt's Hall (B on the diagram) was constructed in the 14th century.

Leicester's Building (D on the diagram) is an Elizabethan three-story building containing living accommodation in the form of suites. Each contained decorative fireplaces, a bedroom and a public room with large windows.

Mortimer's Tower (F on the diagram) was a gatehouse controlling the entrance to the castle's outer court. When constructed the Mere protected the tower, rising to the very base of the tower. The tower has arrow loops and grooves for a portcullis.

Lunn's Tower (H on the diagram) is part of King John’s wall. It contained no living quarters or storage areas. The walls are looped and cover the north east corner of the defence.

The Water Tower (I on the diagram) was part of the living accommodation and had little defensive value due to its large windows.

Leicester's Gatehouse (J on the diagram) is a gatehouse built to serve as the main entrance to the castle. It was constructed by Dudley when the defensive qualities of the castle were much less important. The entrance was made wide enough for wheeled carriages to use.

Corfe Castle

History of the Castle

Corfe Castle dominates the surrounding area

Although evidence exists of an earlier structure, the surviving castle in the village of Corfe Castle is of Norman construction. The stone hall and inner bailey wall were built in the 11th century. Further structures were erected through until about 1250 including additional towers, halls and walls. At this time the castle was a royal treasure house. The castle was held by the royal family until the 16th century when it was disposed of by Elizabeth I to Sir Christopher Hatton.

In 1635 the castle passed into the Bankes family. The castle was besieged twice during the English Civil War by the Parliamentarians. The first siege last six weeks, and the second two months. It was ended when the Royalists were betrayed. The Parliamentarians slighted the castle to prevent its use as a fortress.

The castle was returned to the Bankes family in 1660; however, they did not reoccupy the castle, because the damage was severe. In the 1980s, Ralph Bankes bequeathed the castle to the National Trust, which continues to own and maintain it.

Design of the Castle

Plan view of Corfe Castle

Corfe Castle is built on top of a steep mound, commanding a gap in the south Purbeck hills, and is surrounded by a deep defensive ditch. The castle is positioned to defend the area from invaders landing to the south in Poole harbour and other anchorages. The first line of defence was the Outer Gatehouse.

Civil War Castles

History of the Period

In 1120 Prince William, the only son of Henry I, was drowned when the ship carrying him home sank. Following William's death there were two possible heirs to the throne: Henry's daughter, Matilda, and his nephew Stephen. On Henry's death, Stephen became king. Some nobles would have preferred Matilda, sparking a 14 year civil war.

Matilda married Geoffrey, Count of Anjou, who was also known as "Plantagenet". While Geoffrey attempted to gain control of Normandy, Matilda battled with Stephen for control of England. After capturing Stephen at the Battle of Lincoln, she forced him to allow the throne to pass to her son, who would become Henry II - the first of the Plantagenet kings. He was succeeded by his son, Richard the Lionheart who was succeeded by John.

During this period of internal strife, the castle played an important role and the nature of the fighting lead to the development of specialised siege equipment.

Shell Keeps

Castle engineers during the Norman period did not trust the motte to support the enormous weight of a stone keep. A common solution was to replace the palisade with a stone wall then build wooden buildings backing onto the inside of the wall. This construction was lighter than a keep and prevented the walls from being undermined, meaning they could be thinner and lighter.

Great Towers

In the 12th century great towers (also known as a donjon or keep) began to appear as a replacement for the motte as the strong point of the castle. The great tower had thick heavy walls, sometimes up to seven metres thick, and could resist the latest siege machinery while also providing better and more spacious living quarters for the castle owner. Older castles were rebuilt with great towers by either demolishing the motte or constructing the tower on top of the motte. The latter option was less common as the motte could rarely take the weight of a great tower without risk of collapse. In many early castle designs the keep was situated at or near the entrance to the castle to protect this weak point.

Castles of the Period

Castle Rising

The keep of Castle Rising

History of the Castle

The construction of Castle Rising began in 1138. The keep is surrounded by an enormous earthworks that were built up during the 12th century, possibly in response to the 1173-1174 revolt led by Hugh Bigod in Norfolk.

Between 1330 and 1358 Isabella of France lived in Castle Rising.

Design of the Castle

Orford Castle

Orford Castle

History of the Castle

The construction of Orford Castle began in 1165 on the orders of Henry II and was completed in 1173. The design of the keep, a polygonal tower, is unique being circular in cross-section with three abutting rectangular towers. The castle tower is enclosed by a curtain wall with a gatehouse and flanking towers.

Four years after completion, Orford Castle was garrisoned by the 1st Earl of Norfolk when he joined the rebellion of Henry the Young King. In the 13th century Prince Louis of France occupied Orford Castle following his invasion of England in 1216. The castle declined in importance during the later part of the 13th century and was sold by Edward I.

Design of the Castle

Plan of Orford Castle keep.

Richmond Castle

The keep of Richmond Castle, it was a 12th century addition to the original castle

History of the Castle

Alan the Red of Brittany began construction of Richmond Castle in the Yorkshire Dales began in 1071. Once complete it was used as the headquarters of the "Honour of Richmond", a group of estates in the surrounding area.

Design of the Castle

Richmond Castle is built from stone and originally had a towered curtain wall and gatehouse but no keep. Walls guarded only two sides of the three sided hilltop as no wall was felt necessary on the third side due to the steep cliff and river.

Baronial War Castles

History of the Period

This period begins with the accession to the throne of Henry III, son of King John, in 1216. Some civil strife was probably inevitable as Henry was a nine year old boy and incapable of ruling without assistance. A group of rebel barons had invited Prince Louis of France to take the crown and he had led his forces in an invasion of England, laying siege to Windsor, Dover and Lincoln castles. However, he began to lose support when his forces were unable to capture these powerful castles and eventually many barons began to defect to Henry. Louis was defeated by the regent, William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke, described as the greatest knight who ever lived. He fought in over 500 tournaments, never losing, as well as performing numerous acts of bravery throughout a long career serving five English kings.

In 1227, Henry declared himself of age and prepared to rule in his own right. But the barons were a powerful force in the country. In terms of castles, they outnumbered the king three to one, they had more money and more military forces. War broke out and the barons, lead by Simon de Montfort, made quick gains culminating in the capture of Henry and his son, Prince Edward. They escaped though and the war turned in the king's favour with de Montfort being slain at Evesham. In 1272 Edward took the throne as Edward I. His reign was characterised by border wars against Welsh and Scottish forces. It was while travelling to Scotland in 1307 to suppress another rebellion that he died. He was succeeded by Edward II who lead the English army into Scotland.

Edward II was not the military leader that his father was - his army failed to suppress the rebellion and Scotland was left alone for seven years. When Edward returned in 1314 the Scots, lead by Robert the Bruce, the English army was soundly defeated. Tired of his weakness he was forced from the throne by this Queen and then murdered at Berkeley Castle.

Edward III was more in the mould of his grandfather. He reestablished the authority of the crown before building up England's forces to become the most powerful in Europe. He smashed the Scots near Berwick making use of longbows and paid soldiers who had begun to replace the traditional feudal knights.

Enclosure Castles

Quadrangular Castles

Great Towers and Pele Towers

A great tower is the name given to the main tower of a motte and bailey castle.

Fortified Manors

Castles of the Period

Framlington Castle

York Castle

The first York Castle was built on the orders of William I in 1068 and was a motte and bailey castle. It was destroyed a year later by a Viking army after which it was rebuilt with a large set of water defences. It remained a centre for royal power in the north east until an explosion in 1684 damaged the castle defences beyond economic repair.

Kenilworth Castle

The original Kenilworth Castle was a great tower constructed in the 1120s. It was expanded by King John during the 13th century with an extensive set of water defences. Expansion continued throughout the 14th century as John of Gaunt occupied the castle as his main seat of power. At this stage the castle was redesigned in the perpendicular style. In the final stages of development during Tudor times, additional buildings were added. Kenilworth was slighted in 1649 during the Civil War leaving all but two buildings uninhabitable.

Tudor Castles

History of the Period

This period begins with the seizure of the throne from Richard II by Henry IV. Henry was to spend most of his reign fighting to establish his hold on the country; his son, Henry V, gained the benefits inheriting a strong enough position to allow him to invade France. He won a famous victory at Agincourt and was declared the heir to the throne of France only to die shortly afterwards from dysentery.

Henry's son, Henry VI, was only one year old when his father died and inherited the thrones of England and France. But Henry was not the warrior his illustrious father was and he was to lose the throne of France bringing the Hundred Years War to an end. Whilst he reigned, an ongoing struggle took place between the Lancastrians and Yorkists. This war, the War of the Roses, ended in 1485 with the defeat of Richard III by Henry Tudor, the future Henry VII.

Castle construction was relatively rare during the Tudor period. The era of siege warfare was coming to an end, and castles had not played a major role in the War of the Roses. A typical castle of the period is closer to a fortified manor house than a true castle. However, some true castles were still built, this period seeing the rise of the brick built castle.

Brick Built Castles

Herstmonceux Castle in East Sussex is a 15th century brick built castle

Brick making was introduced into England in the 14th century, although the Romans had used bricks the art had died out. Wealthy castles owners, in particular those in the south-east of England, began to use bricks in their castle construction. The bricks were laid using a technique now known as English Bond. This technique involves laying rows of bricks alternating between stretchers (the longer side is exposed) and headers (the shorter side is exposed). It is the strongest bond for a one brick thick wall.

Castles of the Period

Herstmonceux Castle

Herstmonceux Castle in East Sussex was built by Roger de Fiennes, Treasurer of the Household to Henry VI. Construction began in about 1441, the castle being built from Flemish brick. Although it is a superficially strong castle, with a large gatehouse and towers, the walls were too thin to resist a serious attack. It was primarily a private residence, set in large Elizabethan gardens. The castle fell into disrepair and was renovated with some modifications in the 20th century.

Kirby Muxloe Castle

Kirby Muxloe Castle, a fine example of a brick built castle

Typical for the period, Kirby Muxloe Castle is more of a fortified house than a true castle. Its large glazed windows and thin walls would not have been able to resist a determined attack for long. In the 1480s, when its construction was begun by Lord Hastings, the country was relatively peaceful and defense was only required against small bands of roving marauders.

The castle is of brick construction in a quadrangle layout. The original design included corner towers linked by curtain walls with towers placed in the middle of each length of wall. A moat surrounds the castle with a wooden drawbridge giving access to the gatehouse.

The Later History of Castles

By the 14th century castles were beginning to fall out of favour. England was becoming increasingly peaceful and castles were expensive to maintain. They were also cold and unpleasant places to live. Over time, castles began to fall into disuse, to be replaced by manor houses. Some castles, however, continued to be maintained, particularly those in strategically important locations like the Scottish borders and ports.

The Civil War

Corfe Castle in Dorset. In the foreground is the bailey wall, which was deliberately destroyed ("slighted") following the Civil War in order to render the defences useless

The last conflict in which castles played a major role was the English Civil War. This war, fought through the 1640s, saw castles brought back into use. Once the fighting had ended, nearly 60 castles were partly destroyed so they couldn't be used again.

The Castle as a Modern Home

The east side of Windsor Castle, now one of the many homes of the British Royal Family

Some castles that survived the Civil War were retained as family homes, perhaps the most impressive of which (outside of the Royal castles), is Arundel in West Sussex.

Life in a Castle

In this chapter we look at what it was like to live in a castle for the different groups of people who typically lived in one - from the Lord to the serfs.





Man-at-arms was a term used to describe a soldier, almost always a professional warrior in the sense of being well-trained in the use of arms, who served as a fully armoured heavy cavalryman. It could refer to knights or noblemen and to members of their retinues or to mercenaries in companies under captains. Such men could serve for pay or through a feudal obligation. The terms knight and man-at-arms are often used interchangeably, but while all knights equipped for war certainly were men-at-arms, not all men-at-arms were knights.

Throughout the Medieval period and into the Renaissance the armour of the man-at-arms became progressively more effective and expensive. Throughout the 14th century, the armour worn by a man-at-arms would have been a composite of materials. Over a quilted gambeson, mail armour would cover the body, limbs and head. Increasingly during the century, the mail would have been supplemented by plate armour on the body and limbs. In the 15th century, full plate armour was developed, which reduced the mail component to a few points of flexible reinforcement.

From the 14th to 16th century, the primary weapon of the man at arms on horseback would be the lance. The lance of the 14th century was essentially a simple spear, 12 ft. in length, usually of ash. In response to the development of improved armour, however, heavier lances weighing up to 18 kg. were developed and a new method of using them in conjunction with a lance rest (arrête) fixed to the breastplate developed. This combination of heavy lance and arrête enabled the mounted man-at-arms to enjoy a new effectiveness on the battlefields of the later 15th and 16th centuries. Not all men-at-arms in the 15th century carried the heavy lance. A lighter weapon called a demi-lance evolved and this gave its name to a new class of lighter-equipped man-at-arms, the demi-lancer, towards the end of the 15th century.

When fighting on foot, men-at-arms initially adapted their ordinary cavalry weapons. In the 15th century, the increased protection of plate armour led to the development of a specialist foot combat weapon, the pollaxe.

A castle would have had a garrison of a number of men-at-arms and they would have fulfilled the role of both cavalry and infantry as demands required.


The Butler

In a medieval castle the butler was a mid ranked member of the staff responsible for the storage, security and serving of alcohol. The name "butler" derives from the Middle English word boteler which itself is derived from the Latin butticula meaning someone who looks after butts, that is, casks of wine.

The Castellan

The castellan was the governor of the castle, responsible for all aspects of its domestic and military organisation. A castle that was not the home of a noble would be permanently run by a castellan.

The Steward

The steward supervised both the estate and the household. In larger castles there may have been two stewards - one who managed the estate and the other (sometimes known as the majordomo) to manage the domestic household. For castles that did not have a castellan, the stewards would maintain the castle during the owner's absence.


Domestic Staff

The Design of Castles

Design Overview

Plan of Warwick Castle, built in 1068

The plan of Warwick Castle shows the majority of defensive features that will be covered in this chapter.

The Barbican

Line drawing of a castle barbican

The barbican was developed during the 13th century as a way of improving the defence of the gate - the most vulnerable part of a castle. The theory underlying the design was to force the attackers to enter an enclosed space, overlooked by well protected positions, in order to approach the gate. Once inside the enclosed space (usually a narrow passage) the attackers could be harried by arrows, boiling water or other weapons fired from elevated positions. The passage inside the barbican was sometimes designed with a dog-leg close to the gate. This prevented attackers being able to effectively use a battering ram.

The name derives from the Iranian word 'parivraka' meaning 'protective'.

Concentric Walls

The west side of the Tower of London. The concentric walls can be easily seen

Concentric walls were developed at a similar time to the barbican and were based on the same theory. A second wall was built outside of the main wall. The area between the two walls became a killing zone for attackers who climbed the outer wall - once they were between the two walls they could be fired on from the inner wall, with no opportunity to take cover or move out of range. The outer wall was lower than the inner wall, allowing defenders on the inner wall to fire at attackers outside the outer wall.

The cost of a concentric wall was enormous and they were only used on the most important castles. The main examples being Dover and the Tower of London.

Ditches, Moats and Drawbridges

The first defence of the castle was usually the ditch and rampart. In early castle construction, a ditch was often dug around the site and the spoil piled up on the inside, forming a rampart. In later designs, the ditch was retained although the rampart was replaced with a stone wall.

Bodiam Castle showing the extensive moat protecting the walls

To make the ditch difficult to cross, a moat was created by diverting a local water source to fill the ditch to a depth greater than a man could wade. The moat also made it more difficult to undermine the outer walls (see below).

Walls, Battlements and Fighting Platforms

Wall Construction

A curtain wall (so called because it seems to hang like a curtain between the towers) was usually between 30 and 45 feet high and between six and 20 feet thick; the wall becoming, in general, higher and thicker over time in response to improved offensive weapons and more advanced construction techniques. Early curtain walls were constructed of wood using the heaviest manageable timber that was available locally. The timber was driven to a relatively shallow depth in the ground and then strengthened with cross timbers and propped from behind to resist battering. Timber walls were vulnerable to attack by fire and were replaced with stone as castle design evolved. By the late 11th century nearly all curtain walls were being constructed from stone. Stone walls were also vulnerable to fire as extreme heat can cause cracking and heaving.

The height of the curtain wall increased in response to developments in siege equipment, the more modern designs being capable of pitching projectiles over the lower walls. However, as the wall height increased, so did the weight and the stability was reduced. This reduced stability made the base of the wall vulnerable to breaching and undermining. The danger of breaching was mitigated to a degree by building a thicker sloped base to the wall (called a batter).

Every castle wall, regardless of its height or width, is a massive and extremely heavy constructions and must be well founded on rock or other firm material. If the ground was not strong enough to support the walls, then large trenches would need to be dug and filled with rubble in a similar manner to modern building foundations. The wall was then raised on the foundations or bedrock. The most typical construction was to build a shell of stone slabs, each cut to a regular shape, then fill the shell with a compacted rubble core. Once complete, the wall would be topped with a parapet and then plastered to protect it from weathering.


One way of breaching a castle wall was to tunnel beneath it. Miners would dig beneath the walls, propping the walls above as they went with wooden supports. Once enough of the wall was undermined and propped, the wood would be set alight. As the tunnel collapsed, the wall would fall into the hole, hopefully making a gap large enough for the attackers to break through. Examples of castles that were attacked by undermining include Dover Castle and Rochester Castle. Clearly the usefulness of undermining as an offensive technique depended to a large degree on the founding of the walls. Walls founded on hard rock, for example granite, would present a significant challenge for miners.

Arrow and Gun Loops

An arrow loop at Framlingham Castle

Originally, arrows were of little use when defending a castle as they could not easily penetrate the chain mail armour worn by attackers. The crossbow, a much more powerful weapon, was able to pierce armour and had a greater range than the ordinary bow. With this development, castles began to be built with arrow loops. These were usually built so that defenders could fire down at attackers near the base of walls or other vulnerable points. Arrow loops were designed with a funnel shape, with a wide opening tapering down to a narrow slit. This gave archers a sideways range in their aim while being well protected.

The later development of the gun lead to a modification of the design of loops to accommodate it. Gun loops are usually only present in the gatehouse.

Gates and Portcullis

The portcullis at Stirling Castle.

Castle gates were usually constructed of wood, reinforced with iron bars. It is likely that they would have been of very heavy construction, however, few original gates survive so the exact methods of construction are not entirely certain. The gate was usually backed by a wooden bar that slotted into holes in the wall to brace it closed. Despite their strength and bracing the gate remained the most vulnerable part of any well designed castles. Stronger castles had a gatehouse to enable the defenders to engage enemies attempting to break down the gate.

A portcullis is a metal grille that was lowered down in front of a gate when the castle was under attack. The portcullis protected the gate both from battering and from fires. Once lowered, the portcullis was usually jammed from above to prevent it being lifted. In some castles, the portcullis was designed to be lowered behind attackers, trapping them in a passageway in which they could be attacked from either murder holes or arrow loops. Large or sophisticated castles could have a whole series of portcullis through the gate passages.

The Domestic Areas

This chapter describes the main features of a castle that served its domestic purpose. All true castles would have all of these features, albeit of varying size and style.

Above Ground

Warkworth Castle, showing the location of the major rooms

The main domestic areas of the castle were on the upper floors of the castle away from the noise (and smells!) of the more public areas below. The plan to the right shows the layout of the principal rooms in a typical castle:

  1. The vestibule
  2. The hall
  3. The chapel
  4. The great chamber
  5. The kitchens
  6. The pantry and buttery

The Vestibule

A vestibule is a room or space between the doorway and the first proper room of the castle. It provides an "airlock" between the outside and the inner areas of the castle.

The Hall

The Great Hall of Durham Castle. Durham Castle is of Norman design, although the hall was not added until the 14thcentury, the large 19th century window being more typical of this period. The ceiling is 14m high and the hall 30m long.

The hall (or great hall if there was more than one hall in the castle) was the main room of the castle. The hall was used for eating, sleeping and conducting the business of the castle and its estates.

The usual design was a rectangular room with a high ceiling. One end of the hall would have had a dais where the castle owner and family would have dined. The great chamber was commonly located directly behind or above the dais. Originally the hall was used by both the owner, his household and the servants for eating and sleeping, but in later castles the servants made use of a subsidiary hall and the owner had moved to the great chamber.

The hall was usually on the first or second floor of the keep, with the space below used for cellars. The hall usually occupied two "floors" of the keep, having a double height ceiling. The upper level would sometimes have a mural gallery, a walkway through the wall. Windows would be place high up to provide light - the later the design of the castle, the bigger the windows.

The size of the hall meant that sometimes the span of the ceiling was too great to be supported by the side walls alone. In these cases a supporting wall bisecting the hall might have been built.

The hall was the place where the owner entertained his guests, so it was as splendidly decorated as he could afford. The walls would have been plastered or whitewashed then decorated. The very rich would have had decorated glass windows, although unlike today these were made to be removable so the owner could take them with him on his travels round his estates as they were extremely expensive.

The Chapel

The chapel of Carisbrooke Castle

Religion permeated every aspect of medieval life, so the chapel was an integral and important part of every castle. Most castles would have had at least two chapels - a private one, near the hall or great chamber, for the use of the owner, and another for the rest of the castle's population. The public chapels were typically located in the bailey.

A chapel would have been aligned with the altar to the east and the entrance to the west, the normal practice for Christian churches. Also like churches of the period, the chapel would have been richly decorated, perhaps with tapestries covering the walls.

As well as conducting religious ceremonies, the chaplain would have been involved in the administrative work of the castle. This was due to the chaplain being one of the few people in the castle who was likely to be able to read and write.

The Great Chamber

The great chamber was the private room of the castle's owner and, sometimes, his immediate family. It allowed him to sleep and eat separately from the rest of the household. The use and design of the chamber evolved over time. As the castle became more of a home than a defensive fortification, the chamber increased in importance. Eventually it would develop into a suite of rooms. In early designs, the chamber would have been heated by braziers, later designs incorporating fireplaces.

The chamber also served as a treasury, so it had to be in a secure location. In Norman castles the chamber is usually placed next to the hall and in later designs directly above the hall, accessed by a stairway. The Chamberlain was responsible for the treasury.

Furniture was comparatively rare in early castles. However, the chamber would have a four-poster bed, with curtains to reduce the draughts, chests, chairs and, possibly, a free standing wooden bath or wash stand.

The Kitchens

A typical castle kitchen, although this is from Doune Castle in Scotland.

The castle kitchen was usually in a separate building rather than the main keep, albeit joined by a covered passageway to allow food to carried quickly and easily to the hall. The calorie intake of a typical man in medieval times was likely to be much higher than today. Almost regardless of their profession, they would have been involved in hard physical labour. This meant that the production of vast quantities of food was essential in a castle, meaning a large kitchen.

The main feature of the kitchen would have been its fireplaces. These would have given off an enormous amount of heat making the kitchen very uncomfortable to work in. The fires were the reason the kitchen was usually in a different building - there was a very good chance that the building could be burnt to the ground. The kitchen would either have a well or the well would be nearby outside to provide a supply of clean water for cooking.

The kitchen floor would probably have been kept covered with straw or a similar material to soak up spillages. At the end of each day these would have been swept down a waste chute into the moat or collected up if no chute was provided.

Ovens to bake bread would usually be located next to the fireplaces. The oven was heated by filling it with burning wood until the bricks were heated right through. Then the oven was swept clean and the food put inside - the retained heat in the bricks cooking the food.

The Pantry, Larder and Buttery

The pantry was the storage and preparation room for general provisions that were not being prepared in the kitchen. The name derives from the French word for bread, pain. The pantler was responsible for the pantry.

The larder was under the control of the larderer and was used to store meat and fish.

The buttery was for the storage of "butts" of ale and other alcohol. It was the responsibility of the butler. As the storage and control of alcohol was very important, the most trustworthy servant was put in charge. This lead to the butler taking the role of head of the domestic household.

It was fairly typical for the buttery and pantry to be built at the opposite end of the hall to the great chamber. For storing expensive goods, like spices, an ambury (a cupboard built into the wall) was used.

The Brewery

Water was not usually drunk as it was generally unsafe, particularly near a castle where the watercourses were likely to be contaminated with disease pathogens from sewage and other waste. The brewing process removes impurities and destroys harmful bacteria, making ale safe to drink. As such it was the drink of choice for all but those who couldn't afford it. Later, ale was flavoured with hops producing beer. Given the high demand for ale and beer every major castle would have had its own brewery to provide for the residents.


The dovecote from Newark Castle, in Scotland

Castles would have kept doves for the food from the birds themselves, their eggs and for carrying messages. The earliest known evidence of dove keeping in an English castle was in the Norman period (around the 12th century) with Rochester Castle having nest-holes in the keep. The first identifiable dovecote is somewhat later, around the 14th century.

Below Ground

The Cellars

The castle cellars were usually under the great hall (which was on the first or second floor of the keep). It was used for general storage as well as those things normally expected in a castle - weapons, armour and other military supplies. The castle designers would have tried to ensure the cellar was fireproof as its destruction, with its large supplies of food, could have lead to the quick defeat of the castle garrison.

The Dungeons

It may be surprising, but actually very few castles were built with a dungeon. The underground areas seen in castles and castle ruins today were nearly always cellars or other storage areas. The reason there were no dungeons was because there were no prisoners. The criminal justice system of the period tended to lead to people being found not guilty, or being hung. Cells or dungeons were only required if for some reason a suspected criminal needed to be held pending trial, but this was rather rare.

Later, as the criminal justice system developed, underground areas of castles were sometimes turned into prisons. These cellars were no longer required for their original purpose as the castle was not required to hold stores against a long siege. So they made convenient places to hold criminals.

Design Features


A garderobe, this one is in Chirk Castle, Wales

A garderobe was the medieval equivalent of a lavatory. There was usually one or more in each of the main castle rooms. Typically they would be positioned next to or within the castle walls. If the castle walls weren't thick enough to contain the garderobe, it would be built on brackets outside the wall, hanging directly over the ditch or moat. The approach to a garderobe was dog-legged to reduce the amount of odour escaping back into the castle. There was little sophistication to a garderobe - it was just a hole, covered with a wooden bench that either opened directly to the outside or to a chute. Regardless of the method of disposal, the deposits had to be regularly cleared away - possibly the most unpleasant job in a castle.


A typical castle staircase in turnpike design, this one is at Foulksrath Castle

As castles are usually built on several levels, staircases are an important component of the design. The defensive strength of a castle can be significantly affected by the design and positioning of the staircase. Where a staircase is inside the castle wall, it creates a weak point that can be targeted by siege engines. To avoid creating a thinner wall, staircases were sometimes built outside the tower or keep.

A second consideration was the direction of a spiral staircase. Once an enemy had entered the castle, the staircases could be made easier to defend by making them spiral. In what is known as a "turnpike" arrangement, the stairs spiral so that a defender higher up the staircase is free to use his sword arm while the attacker has restricted movement.

Finally, staircases may be placed on alternate sides of the structure (for example, from ground to first floor the staircase is on the north side, from first to second floor, it is on the south side). This arrangement means the attackers have to fight their way across the floor to reach the next staircase. In some designs, the rooms would be split in half with a wall and doorway creating an extra defensive point.


In early castles, heat was provided by free-standing braziers and central hearth fires. The fireplace was developed in around 1100 and began to be incorporated in castle design from that point onwards. The fireplace lead to a major change inside the castle as it removed the central fires, creating a wider, open space and reducing the amount of smoke and soot. This in turn lead to the increasing decoration of the important rooms, like the hall and great chamber.


A donkey wheel operated well at Carisbrooke Castle

It is a fundamental design tenet or a castle that it needs to be able to survive a prolonged siege. The provision of a reliable source of drinking water inside the castle is therefore essential. The well would have to be positioned so it could not be captured while other areas of the castle continued to resist the attackers. This means that at least one well would normally be inside the keep itself. An additional well would often be placed near the kitchen.

However, provision of wells was a significant problem for many castles. A castle was typically built on high, often rocky, ground, making it difficult to sink a well. Also the well had to be deep enough so that it couldn't be contaminated by sewage or waste from the castle. In some designs, the upper parts of the well were stone lined to try and prevent contamination and many would have had a cover for when they were not in use.

When the well was particularly deep, lifting sufficient water for the castle population would have been a back-breaking task. To mitigate this, donkey wheels were sometimes installed to provide power for the lifting mechanism.

Castle Construction Techniques

Castles in England have been constructed from a number of materials including stone, brick, timber, lead, iron and tin. To a large degree the choice of material for the main walls was driven by the availability of local supplies and, in later years where defensive strength was less important, fashion.

The earliest castles were constructed primarily of wood, locally sourced as the transportation of felled timber over long distances was both impractical and expensive.

Work on the castle construction could not usually take place in the winter or early spring as it was too difficult to work in wet conditions. Even when work could take place, the sheer size of a castle meant it would take many years to build - for example, Dover Castle took 10 years to build.


For stone built castles the foundations would, wherever possible, been built directly onto the bedrock. The builders would dig down to the rock before leveling it to create the strongest possible foundation. The stones for the walls would be laid directly onto the bedrock. If there was no suitable bedrock or it was too deep, then a similar approach to that used today for buildings would be used. The builders would dig a deep and wide trench, then fill it with rubble that was packed down as firmly as possible to create a solid foundation. The wall stones would be built on the compacted rubble.


Walls were generally built of stone within wooden frames designed to hold the stone in place while the mortar dried. For thick walls, the wall was usually constructed with a cavity that was filled with rubble rather than being solid stone. Where strength was not so vital, the cavity sometimes contained a staircase. Scaffolding was used as the wall grew higher. It was held in place by inserting horizontal wooden scaffold beams into putlog holes built into the wall.


A moat is typically either a dry or water filled ditch. Most commonly it was constructed by expanding or diverting an existing watercourse. In some cases the castle would be built on a peninsula or even an island. In Guernsey, Castle Cornet goes even further and the sea performs the function of a moat.

Constructing a moat from scratch was a significant effort requiring hard labour.

The Castle Estate

In this chapter we'll explore the wider setting of the castle, including the lands set aside for food production and recreation. Even the smallest castle housed a sizable staff and local food production was essential particularly in times of war.

Food Production

Farms and Orchards

Fish Ponds

A medieval fish pond, Pirton Pool. Photograph by Philip Halling

During the winter, supplying fresh food for the castle garrison was a constant struggle. Although meat would be available from deer parks, this couldn't supply the needs of the whole household. A fish pond provided an elegant solution. As long as there was a natural flow of water into the pond, fish required no feeding and were available all year round. There would usually be a series of ponds, with fish being moved between them as they grew.

Deer Parks

Hunting was a popular activity for castle owners and their household, and a deer park provided a recreational facility as well as food for the table. The park was constructed by digging a ditch and raising a rampart around the edge, topping the rampart with a fence. The design was the opposite of a castle's defences, with the ditch on the inside, as the intention was to keep the deer in. The parks were protected by Forest Law, which also banned the hunting of boar, hare and wolf. The castle owner required a license from the king to construct a deer park, which, along with the more general ban on deer hunting, made venison an exclusive meat. Thus the castle owner with a deer park was able to greatly impress visitors by serving venison.


Mills were required for the production of flour. They were large and expensive, and a significant source of revenue, so the castle estate would usually have a watermill, windmills being comparatively rare during the age of the castle.


Before the 14th century, the fighting strength of a castle - its knights and peasant soldiers - would have lived outside the castle. The knights supplied their own horses and equipment as part of their feudal commitment. Later the feudal system began to be replaced with standing armies of professional soldiers. The castle owner had to provide this army with board and lodgings. Typically these barracks were constructed inside the outer bailey.


The Tiltyard

Horse Guards Parade in London, a former tiltyard.

If anything seems inextricably linked with the castle, it's the tiltyard. This was place where knights practised their skills, and tournaments and jousting competitions were held. They were only commonplace in later medieval castles.

A tournament was a general mêlée where groups of knights fought each other in a trial of skill. Jousting where two knights ride at each other, occurred during tournaments but was more a feature of the tournament than the main event. Jousting as an event in its own right became increasingly popular from about the 12th century as it allowed individual knights to demonstrate their skill and courage. Large sums of money were on offer for the winners, but losing could mean the loss of a fortune or even life.

Attacking a Castle

In this chapter we look at the ways a castle could be attacked, and the weapons that were used. As has been the case throughout history the development of weapons was faster than the means of defence resulting in the eventual obsolescence of the castle.

An assault on a castle usually took one of two forms: an attempt to storm the castle or the laying of a siege in the hope of driving the defenders to surrender.

The Siege

Illustration of a medieval siege

If a castle was held by a reasonable sized force, it would be much more difficult to capture without a siege, although treachery by a member of the castle garrison by, say, opening the gates to the enemy, was certainly not unknown. In the medieval period, it was virtually impossible to launch a surprise attack as an army simply could not advance quickly enough without warning being passed to the castle.

Once the siege had begun there were a number of ways the attackers could try and defeat the castle. They could:

  • Use siege engines to try and smash down the walls
  • Use siege equipment, like ladders and wheeled ramps, to try and scale the walls
  • Tunnel under the walls to undermine them
  • Use a battering ram to smash down the gates or strong walls
  • Set fire to the walls, or fling burning material inside the walls to set the buildings inside alight
  • Attempt to starve out the defenders
  • Attempt to spread disease through the castle by flinging sick animals or dead bodies over the walls

Siege Engines

Siege engines were used by the attackers either to try and kill the defenders directly, or weaken the castle to the point where it could be successfully stormed.


An illustration of a mangonel.

The mangonel was similar in design to a large catapult and used the torsion in a twisted rope to power the arm. Its main use was to attack the castle walls rather than the defenders as it hurled stones or other ammunition at high speed but at too shallow an angle to reach the top of the wall. The mangonel had a bucket at one end that could be filled with different materials depending on the situation. For example, burning barrels of pitch could have been thrown to set fire to the bottom of the walls with the intention of weakening the cement, making the wall easier to collapse. The mangonel was fairly inaccurate making it best suited to attacks on stretches of wall rather than pinpoint attacks.


A trebuchet. The bucket to the left was filled with munitions.

The trebuchet was a later development and supplanted the mangonel due to its greater power and accuracy. It was also more flexible, being capable of striking the castle walls as well as lifting objects over the walls to attack the interior of the castle. It used a counterweight to drive the arm, providing more power than the twisted rope used by mangonels. It also had a sling to hold the payload which had a mechanism for releasing it at the right point to achieve the maximum range. Records of the use of trebuchets suggest that the largest could fire rocks of up to 1,500 kg (although smaller stones must surely have been more typically used) and could achieve a rate of fire of one stone every 15 seconds. The maximum range varied but was probably between 200 and 300 feet.

The trebuchet was the most advanced of the siege engines and was not replaced until the advent of gunpowder.

A trebuchet constructed from 13th century plans in 2005 stood some 18 meters high and weighed more than 22 tons, giving some idea of the enormous scale of these weapons. Given this, it is likely they were either broken down for transport or fully assembled on site.


An ancient ballista

The ballista was in use in Roman times. It was similar in design to a crossbow and was used to fire bolts of iron or stones. It had mainly fallen into disuse having been replaced by the more effective trebuchet and mangonel.

The siege engine could be used to throw decaying or diseased bodies over the wall in the hope of infecting and weakening the castle garrison.


Mining, digging under a castle's walls, could be done for two reasons. The first, and most common, reason was to weaken the wall above the mine. The attackers would tunnel underneath the wall, shoring up the tunnel with timber props. Once the mine was complete, a fire would be set to burn out the props and collapse the tunnel, hopefully bringing the wall down. A mine could also be sunk to build a route into the castle for the attackers to launch a surprise attack. If a mine was suspected, the defenders could dig a counter mine.


Early Motte and Bailey castles were constructed of wood, making fire an effective weapon. The fire could be set in a number of ways, usually by either building a fire against the wall or by launching burning arrows into the castle, using archers. Fire was a much less effective weapon against a stone castle. Although a fire could be set amongst the timber buildings within the bailey, it was often out of range of an arrow and easily extinguished by the defenders. William the conqueror ordered for all new castles to be built out of stone to resolve the problem.

Direct Assault

There are a number of ways of assaulting a castle: over the top of the walls using towers or ladders, under the walls using a mine, or through the walls using a battering ram, pickaxes or other tools.

Siege Tower

A siege tower is a mobile tower, usually constructed from wood, that provides protection for those attacking the castle while allowing them to gain access over the walls. The tower was sometimes coated with water-soaked hides to reduce the risk of fire being set by fire arrows or Greek fire. Towers became larger and more sophisticated over the years. By the time of the siege of Kenilworth Castle in 1266 the towers in use could hold 11 catapults and over 200 archers each.

Siege towers fell out of use with the development of the cannon. The cannon was capable of smashing the high walls of the castle, removing the need for the attackers to enter the castle over the walls.


A sow is a mobile armoured shelter. They protected attackers working at the base of the castle wall from missiles dropped from above by the defenders. They were often used to allow workers to approach and fill the moat to create a causeway so that the siege tower could be maneuvered to approach the wall.

Battering Ram

Attack on the walls of a besieged town with a battering ram.

A battering ram is a designed to break the gates or walls of a castle through repeated heavy impacts. The first rams were large tree trunks carried by hand and crashed into the wall as hard as possible.

Later more sophisticated siege engines were built with wheels that enclosed the ram under an arrow-proof roof. This allowed the attacker's to move the ram close to the wall or gate protected from the defenders. The ram itself would be hung by chains or ropes enabling it to be swung freely.

Rams were most effective against wooden gates or soft stone walls. Harder stone, such as granite, were much more resistant but could still be defeated eventually by a ram.

Castle Catalogue by English County

This table is the key to the Castle catalogue.

  Accessible open space
  Castle open to the public
  English Heritage
  Historic House open to the public
  National Trust
NGS Private, grounds open under the National Gardens Scheme
Name Usually, but not always, the name of the surviving building - for instance the remains of the historic Bampton Castle were incorporated in a later building known as Ham Court
Type Usually the type of castle represented by the predominant surviving fortified remains
Date Usually the dates of the principal building works relating to the surviving remains
Condition An indication as to what remains of the original castle structure
Image The building or site as it currently exists
Brief information relating to the current ownership or use of the site, an icon signifying that the site is frequently open to the public
Notes Brief description or information of note


There are three castles of note in the county of Bedfordshire.

Ownership (Key)
/ Access
Bedford Castle Keep and bailey 110112th century Archaeological remains HAL  Largely demolished following well-documented 8-week siege by Henry III, with around 2000 men, in 1224.
Someries Castle Fortified manor house 140115th century Fragmentary remains HC  Brick-built, never completed, on site of earlier building, ruined gatehouse and chapel survive, remainder demolished 1742.
Totternhoe Castle Motte and bailey 110112th century Earthworks HAL  Motte and 3 baileys in prominent position.

Bedford Castle

Remaining motte of Bedford Castle

Bedford Castle was a medieval castle built after 1100 by Henry I. The castle played a prominent part in civil war of the Anarchy in the mid-12th century and in the First Barons' War at the start of the 13th century. The castle was significantly extended in stone, although the final plan of the castle remains uncertain. Henry III besieged the castle in 1224 the siege lasting eight weeks and involving an army of as many as 2,700 men. After the surrender of the castle, the king ordered its destruction. Although partially refortified in the 17th century during the English Civil War, the castle remained a ruin until the urban expansion in Bedford during the 19th century, when houses were built across much of the property. Today only part of the motte still stands, forming part of an archaeological park built on the site between 2007 and 2009.

Someries Castle

Someries Castle

Someries Castle (sometimes spelt Summeries Castle) is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, in the Parish of Hyde, near the town of Luton, Bedfordshire. It was built in the 15th century by Sir John Wenlock. Although always referred to as a castle it was actually a fortified manor house.

The name of "Someries Castle" was derived from William de Someries, who had a residence on this site, but the title "castle" is contentious since it hardly describes the structure to which it is applied. The site was acquired by Wenlock in 1430 and building the mansion commenced. The house is unique in that it is regarded as one of the first brick buildings in England. The house was never completed by Wenlock, and was partly demolished in the 18th century. The brickwork can still be seen in the remains of the gatehouse, incorporating the chapel and lodge, which still stands today.

The remains of the original manor house and/or the earlier Norman Castle are now visible only as earthworks that outline the plot where the house originally stood, although remains of the gatehouse to the actual manor house and the chapel that was connected to it, are still partially standing. Some bricks from the manor house were used to build the nearby farm houses in the 17th century.

Totternhoe Castle

Totternhose Castle

Totternhoe Castle is a medieval castle in Bedfordshire. It overlooks the village of Totternhoe and was built during the Norman period, probably during the years of the Anarchy. It is a motte-and-bailey design, with two baileys rather than the more usual one. A wide ditch protects three sides of the castle, with the fourth protected by the edge of the chalk hill on which the castle is situated.


There are two castles in Berkshire.

/ Access
Notes (Key)
Donnington Castle Castle 1386c.1386 Fragment EH  Built by Richard Abberbury the Elder, destroyed in Civil War, gatehouse survives.
Windsor Castle Keep and bailey 110112–19th century Intact Royal palace Restored and extended by Wyatt and Wyattville, 1800–30.

Donnington Castle

Remains of Castle Donnington

Donnington Castle is a ruined medieval castle, situated in the small village of Donnington, just north of the town of Newbury in Berkshire. It was built by its original owner, Richard Abberbury the Elder, under a licence granted by Richard II in 1386. The surviving castle gatehouse dates from this time. The castle was subsequently bought by Thomas Chaucer, the son of the poet Geoffrey Chaucer, as a residence for his daughter Alice, who later became Duchess of Suffolk. This family later fell out with the Tudor monarchs, and the castle became a Royal property. Both King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I visited Donnington Castle, in 1539 and 1568 respectively.

The castle was originally built in a rectangular form, with a curtain wall cornered by four round towers, two square wall towers, and a substantial gatehouse, constructed around a courtyard. The courtyard buildings were probably of timber construction and possibly included a hall, kitchen, and guest lodgings.

By the time the English Civil War broke out in 1643, the castle was owned by the Parliamentarian John Packer family but after the First Battle of Newbury it was taken for the King, Charles I, and held by Sir John Boys. They quickly built defences on the slopes of the hill in a star shape. The projections were for gun emplacements, the scarps and platforms of which survive today. Despite being besieged for most of the war, it had to be relieved by the King on two occasions, the castle succeeded in guarding the major routes from London to the West Country and Oxford to Southampton. During the Second Battle of Newbury, the castle was able to hold off the Parliamentary attackers. Finally, after an eighteen month siege, the garrison, after obtaining the Kings permission, abandoned the damaged castle and were allowed to rejoin Royalist forces in Wallingford.

In 1646 Parliament voted to demolish the castle leaving only the gatehouse remaining, which was then restored to John Packer. All that remains of the castle today is the substantial four towered gatehouse, and the surrounding earthworks.

The castle is now in the care of English Heritage and is a scheduled ancient monument number 233041. The gatehouse is two stories high and roofed at battlement level. The external walls of the castle have been rebuilt to a height of 50 centimetres to indicate the original layout. The temporary Civil War works remain for the most part as scarps averaging 1.7m high.

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle at sunset
Plan of Windsor Castle. Key: A: The Round Tower, B: The Upper Ward, The Quadrangle, C: The State Apartments, D: Private Apartments, E: South Wing, F: Lower Ward, G: St George's Chapel, H: Horseshoe Cloister, K: King Henry VIII Gate, L: The Long Walk, M: Norman Gate, N: North Terrace, O: Edward III Tower, T: The Curfew Tower

Windsor Castle is a medieval castle in Windsor, Berkshire. The original castle was built after the Norman invasion by William the Conqueror. Since the time of Henry I it has been used by a succession of monarchs and is the longest-occupied palace in Europe.

Originally designed to protect Norman dominance around the outskirts of London, and to oversee a strategically important part of the River Thames, Windsor Castle was built as a motte and bailey, with three wards surrounding a central mound. Gradually replaced with stone fortifications, the castle withstood a prolonged siege during the First Barons' War at the start of the 13th century. Henry III built a luxurious royal palace within the castle during the middle of the century.

Windsor Castle survived a tumultuous period during the English Civil War, in which the castle was used as a military headquarters for Parliamentary forces and a prison for Charles I. During the Restoration, Charles II rebuilt much of Windsor Castle with the help of architect Hugh May, creating a set of extravagant, Baroque interiors. After a period of neglect during the 18th century, George III and George IV renovated and rebuilt Charles II's palace at colossal expense.

Windsor Castle occupies a large site of more than thirteen acres and combines the features of a fortification, a palace, and a small town. It is in essence a Georgian and Victorian design based on a medieval structure, with Gothic features reinvented in a modern style. Since the 14th century, architecture at the castle has attempted to produce a contemporary reinterpretation of older fashions and traditions, repeatedly imitating outmoded or even antiquated styles.


There is only one castle in Buckinghamshire.

/ Access
Notes (Key)
Boarstall Tower Fortified manor house 1312c.1312 Fragment ENT  Moated site, gatehouse survives, altered 16–17th centuries, remainder of house demolished 18th century, converted to house 20th century.

Boarstall Tower

Boarstall Tower

Boarstall Tower is a 14th-century moated gatehouse located in Boarstall, Buckinghamshire and now, with its surrounding gardens, a National Trust property.

The gatehouse was built by John de Haudlo in 1312 and is all that remains of Boarstall House, a fortified manor house that was demolished in 1778. Although it was updated in 1615 for use as a banqueting pavilion or hunting lodge, it retained its mediaeval belfry, cross loops and crenellations. The exterior and many rooms are essentially unchanged. The property is tenanted with limited opening arrangements. Exterior rooms remain virtually unchanged since 1615.


There are seven castles of note in Cambridgeshire.

/ Access
Notes (Key)
Buckden Towers Fortified manor house 120113–15th century Fragment Claretian conference centre Renamed Buckden Towers, partly demolished and remnants incorporated with 19th century house.
Elton Hall Fortified manor house 1477c.1477 Fragment HH  Gatehouse survives, incorporated in building of 1662–1689, remodelled and extended 18–19th centuries.
Kimbolton Castle Castellated house 160117–18th century Intact School Site of medieval castle, rebuilt and later remodelled by Vanbrugh 1707–10.
Kirtling Tower Fortified manor house 1530c.1530 Fragment NGS 150116th century gatehouse on site of moated Saxon castle.
Longthorpe Tower Tower house 12631263–1300 Intact EH  Elaborate scheme of domestic medieval wall paintings.
Northborough Castle Fortified manor house 13301330–40 Fragment Private residence Gatehouse and hall survive, with 16–17th century alterations.
Woodcroft Castle Quadrangular castle 1280c.1280 Habitable fragment Private residence West range of original building survives, with alterations.

Buckden Towers

Entrance to Buckden Towers

Buckden Towers is a 12th century fortified manor house in Buckden, Cambridgeshire. It was built in the late 12th century, when records show it as being used to house the Bishops of Lincoln. The tall brick tower was added in 1475, protected by walls and a moat, and surrounded by an outer bailey. It was used by the bishops until 1842.

Little now remains of the bishops' moated palace except the great tower, the inner gatehouse, part of the battlemented wall, which used to surround the inner court within the moat, and the outer gate and wall.

Elton Hall

Elton Hall

Elton Hall is a baronial hall in Elton, Cambridgeshire. It has been the ancestral home of the Proby family since 1660.

The hall lies in an 3800 acre estate through which the River Nene runs. The building incorporates 15th, 17th, 18th and 19th century parts.

Kimbolton Castle

Kimbolton Castle

Kimbolton Castle in Kimbolton, Cambridgeshire is best known as the final home of King Henry VIII's first queen, Catherine of Aragon. Originally a medieval castle but converted into a stately palace, it was the family seat of the Dukes of Manchester from 1615 until 1950. It now houses Kimbolton School.

A wooden motte and bailey castle was built in Kimbolton, on a different site, in Norman times. Later, King John granted Geoffrey Fitz Peter, Earl of Essex permission to hold a fair and market in Kimbolton, as a consequence of which a market place was created, with the existing church at one end and a new castle at the other. No remains of this castle remain, although it was built on the site of the present castle.

The castle went through various phases of ownership until, by the 1520s, it belonged to the Wingfield family. The medieval castle was rebuilt as a Tudor manor house, parts of which survive. Catherine of Aragon was sent here in April 1534 for refusing to give up her status or deny the validity of her marriage.

The castle was bought by Sir Henry Montagu, later 1st Earl of Manchester, in 1615. His descendants owned the castle for 335 years until it was sold in 1951.

Kirtling Tower

The remaining Tudor gatehouse of Kirtling Tower

Kirtling Tower was a medieval castle and Tudor country house in Cambridgeshire of which the gatehouse still remains. The first documentary records for Kirtling Tower date from 1219, and the 13th century Kirtling Castle was described as having a moat, a ditch and a palisade. In 1424 there was a substantial rebuilding of the castle by Richard de Beauchamp, the Earl of Warwick, with a hundred oak trees used to create a complex with a parlour, a solar and chambers.

Edward North, a successful lawyer, rebuilt the castle in the 1540s and between 1556 to 1558 using the architect Francis Adams, renaming it Kirtling Hall. The earthworks around the castle were considerably altered to provide for a raised platform for the new house, which included contemporary Tudor features such as a gatehouse, gallery, lodgings, a banqueting house and a garden, complete with grand water features and ponds. Queen Elizabeth I stayed at the castle in 1578 during her state procession across Cambridgeshire. The castle continued to develop, and by the 1660s was the largest country house in Cambridgeshire, centred on a symmetrical two-storey south-facing range, with east and west wings providing additional accommodation and facilities.

The castle went into decline after 1691 and by 1735 the Victoria County History of the castle describes the property as being "in disorder". Much of the castle was pulled down in 1748 in order to make the remainder habitable for Lord Elibank, but the property went into decline again after his death in 1762. By the 1770s it was uninhabitable and most of the castle pulled down in 1801. In the 1830s the gatehouse was turned into a residential property and was renamed Kirtling Tower; an extension was built in 1872 and the house remained in use under a sequence of tenants.

The main feature of the castle today is the three-storey Tudor gatehouse, which closely resembles the gatehouse at Leez Priory, built by North's friend and fellow lawyer Richard Rich. Built of brick, it has octagonal turrets and an oriel window of Italian design. It is a scheduled monument and a Grade I listed building.

Longthorpe Tower

Longthorpe Tower

Longthorpe Tower is a fourteenth century, three-storey tower in the village of Longthorpe which is part of Peterborough about two miles to the west of the city centre.

It was added in 1310 to a fortified manor house. The interior contains the best-surviving example of English medieval wall paintings in northern Europe, which survived under a layer of whitewash.

Northborough Castle

The gatehouse to Northborough Castle

Northborough Castle, also known as Northborough Hall, is a medieval fortified manor house in Cambridgeshire. It was built between 1333 and 1336 by Roger Northburgh, the Bishop of Lichfield; of the original manor, only the gatehouse and the hall still survive. The gatehouse is dominated by a huge gateway, which, whilst it did not have a drawbridge or portcullis, provided considerable protection to the manor behind it. The hall typified the 14th century fashion for improved lighting, with bay windows placed regularly along the line of the hall, and was decorated with wall paintings. Some 16th and 17th-century extensions to the castle were made.

Woodcroft Castle

Woodcroft Castle

Woodcroft Castle is a converted medieval castle in the parish of Etton, Cambridgeshire. It was built at the end of the 13th century and named after the Woodcroft family who owned it at around this time. The medieval remains of the castle today include a front, a circular tower and a gatehouse. There is debate as to whether the original castle followed a normal Edwardian quadrilateral design, of which most has since been lost, or if it was simply never fully completed. A later Tudor conversion retained these medieval elements into the current design.

Woodcroft Castle was held by the Royalists during the Civil War and was successfully attacked and taken by Parliamentary forces in 1648.


There are six castles of note in Chesire.

/ Access
Notes (Key)
Beeston Castle Enclosure castle 120113–14th century Ruins EH  Sited on crag high above Cheshire Plain, 19th century outer gatehouse.
Chester Castle Keep and bailey 110112th century Fragment EH  Agricola tower sole feature of medieval castle to survive 18th century fire.
Cholmondeley Castle Neo-romantic castle 18011801–19 Intact HH 
Marquess of Cholmondeley
Transformed into castle by Smirke, 1817–19.
Doddington Castle Tower house 1403c.1403 Substantially intact Private Also known as Delves Hall, Building At Risk.
Halton Castle Castle 120113th century Fragmentary remains HC 
Duchy of Lancaster
Commanding position, 13th century tower, 18th century courthouse, folly of c.1800.
Peckforton Castle Neo-romantic castle 18441844–50 Intact Hotel By Salvin, possibly the last serious fortified home built in Britain.

Beeston Castle

A modern bridge provides access to the gateway of the inner ward at Beeston Castle.

Beeston Castle is in Beeston, Cheshire and is perched on a rocky sandstone crag 350 ft above the Cheshire Plain. It was built in the 1220s by Ranulf de Blondeville, 6th Earl of Chester, on his return from the Crusades. In 1237, Henry III took over the ownership of Beeston, and it was kept in good repair until the 16th century, when it was considered to be of no further military use, although it was pressed into service again in 1643, during the Civil War. The castle was slighted in 1646, in accordance with Cromwell's destruction order, to prevent its further use as a stronghold. During the 18th century the site was used as a quarry.

Unlike many other castles of the period, Beeston does not have a keep as its last line of defence. Instead the natural features of the land together with massive walls, strong gate houses, and carefully positioned towers made the baileys themselves the stronghold. The defences consisted of two parts. Firstly, an inner ward on the summit of the hill, with a sheer drop on three sides and a defensive ditch up to 30 ft deep in places cut into the rock on the fourth side. Secondly, an outer bailey was built on the lower slopes, with a massive gatehouse protected by a 16 ft wide and 10 ft deep ditch.

The outer bailey was roughly rectangular, with 6 ft thick walls faced in sandstone and infilled with rubble. The walls, parts of which still remain, contain a number of D-shaped towers, an innovation in English castles at that time. The towers allowed defenders to fire across the walls as well as forwards, and their open-backed design meant that they would not offer cover to any attackers who gained access to the outer bailey. The inner bailey was situated on the rocky summit at the western end of the crag. To provide the castle's inhabitants with a supply of fresh water two wells were dug into the rock, one of them, at 370 ft deep, one of the deepest castle wells in England.

Chester Castle

Chester Castle

Chester Castle is in the city of Chester and is sited at the south west extremity of the area bounded by the city walls. The castle stands on an eminence overlooking the River Dee. In the castle complex are the remaining parts of the medieval castle. The castle was built in 1070 by Hugh d'Avranches, 1st Earl of Chester. It is possible that it was built on the site of an earlier Saxon fortification but this has not been confirmed. The original structure would have been a motte and bailey castle with a wooden tower. In the 12th century the wooden tower was replaced by a square stone tower, the Flag Tower. During the same century the stone gateway to the inner bailey was built. This is now known as the Agricola Tower and on its first floor is the chapel of St Mary de Castro. In the 13th century, during the reign of Henry III, the walls of an outer bailey were built, the gateway in the Agricola Tower was blocked up and residential accommodation, including a Great Hall, was built along the south wall of the inner bailey. Later in the century, during the reign of Edward I, a new gateway to the outer bailey was built. This was flanked by two half-drum towers and had a drawbridge over a moat. Further additions to the castle at this time included individual chambers for the King and Queen, a new chapel and stables.

During the Civil War Chester was held by the Royalists. The castle was assaulted by Parliamentary forces in July 1643, and in January and April 1645. Together with the rest of the city, it was besieged between September 1645 and February 1646. Following the civil war the castle was used as a prison, a court and a tax office.

Cholmondeley Castle

Cholmondeley Castle

Cholmondeley Castle is a country house in Cholmondeley, Cheshire. It is surrounded by a 7,500 acre estate. The present house was built between 1801 and 1804 by George Cholmondeley, 1st Marquess of Cholmondeley. It was designed by the local architect William Turner who was directed by the Marquess to give it the appearance of "an old Gothic Castle". In 1817–1819 turrets and towers were added to give it its present castle like appearance. An earlier house had been on the site dating from 1571. This was constructed of brick and timber framing and had been remodelled by Sir John Vanbrugh between 1713 and 1715.

Doddington Castle

Doddington Castle, also known as Delves Hall

Doddington Castle, sometimes known as Delves Hall, is a fortified structure in Doddington Park to the north of Doddington Hall, Cheshire. The fortified tower was built by Sir John Delves in 1364 on the site of a former moated manor house. The tower was initially free-standing and was probably intended as a place of refuge for the family. In the 17th century it was incorporated into a range of domestic buildings which were known as Doddington Hall. In the Civil War the hall became a garrison for the parliamentary forces. It was taken for the king by John Byron, 1st Baron Byron in January 1644 but retaken shortly after. The house was demolished around 1777 and replaced by the new Doddington Hall, leaving the tower as a landscape feature which was possibly used as a gazebo or a banqueting pavilion.

Halton Castle

Part of Halton Castle ruins in 2006

Halton Castle is in the former village of Halton, Cheshire which is now part of the town of Runcorn. The castle is situated on the top of Halton Hill overlooking the village. It was the seat of the Barons of Halton from the 11th century until the 14th century and it then passed to the Duchy of Lancaster. It was besieged twice in the Civil War after which its structure deteriorated. In the 18th century a new courthouse was built on the site of the previous gatehouse. The castle lies in ruins apart from the courthouse which has been converted into a public house.

Following the Norman conquest, the Barony of Halton was established by Hugh d'Avranches, 1st Earl of Chester. The first baron to be appointed was Nigel of Cotentin and it is almost certain that he would have built a motte and bailey castle on the site, constructing it from wood, although the excavations in 1986–87 showed no evidence of a motte and bailey structure or of a timber tower or palisade. It is most probable that during the 12th century the wooden structure was replaced by a castle built from the local sandstone although no documentary evidence of this remains. Details of the building works are obscure but it has been suggested that John of Gaunt, the 14th baron, made alterations to the castle but this again has not been confirmed by documentary evidence. When the 15th baron, Henry Bolingbroke, ascended the throne as King Henry IV, the castle became the property of the Duchy of Lancaster.

The earliest documentary evidence of building work at Halton Castle shows that during the 15th century and into the 16th century it was regularly maintained. Between 1450 and 1457 a new gate tower was built. A survey of the Royal Palaces in 1609 suggests that by then the castle had fallen into disrepair. During the Tudor period it was used less as a fortress and more as a prison, an administrative centre, and a court of law.

At the outbreak of the Civil War the castle was garrisoned by the Royalists under the command of Captain Walter Primrose who had been appointed by Earl Rivers. It was besieged by Parliamentary forces under Sir William Brereton in 1643, and the Royalists eventually surrendered after several weeks. On hearing of the approach of superior Royalist forces led by Prince Rupert, the Parliamentarians abandoned the castle and it was held again for the Royalists under Colonel Fenwick. There was a second siege in 1644 but, as the fortunes of the Royalists declined elsewhere, they withdrew from Halton and the Parliamentarians under Sir William Brereton re-occupied the castle. In 1646 a "Council of War" was held in Warrington where it was decided that the defences of the castles at Halton and Beeston Castle were to be dismantled. In time this was achieved and Halton castle was to have no further military function. By 1650 the castle was said to be "very ruinous".

Peckforton Castle

Peckforton Castle from the courtyard showing the hall and the round tower

Peckforton Castle is a country house built in the style of a medieval castle. It stands in woodland at the north end of Peckforton Hills one mile north west of the village of Peckforton, Cheshire. The house was built in the middle of the 19th century as a family home for John Tollemache, 1st Baron Tollemache, a wealthy Cheshire landowner, estate manager, and Member of Parliament. It was designed by Anthony Salvin in the Gothic style.

View of the front gate of Peckforton Castle.

The castle was built between 1844 and 1850 by Dean and Son of Leftwich, with Joseph Cookson of Tarporley acting as clerk of works. Stone was obtained from a quarry about one mile to the west of the site, and a railway was built to carry the stone. The castle cost £60,000.

The castle is faced with red sandstone and has lead, asphalt and tile roofs. It is mainly in three storeys with a five-storey tower. The buildings are arranged around a ward with the principal accommodation on the north side. It is surrounded by a dry moat which is bridged at the gatehouse. To the west of the inner ward are the stables, the coach house, a rectangular bell tower and the kitchens and service area. To the north is the great hall range which consists of 18 bays. Behind the entrance to the hall is the circular main tower. At the east end of the gallery wing is the octagonal library tower. The outer walls of the castle have full-height slender turrets at the changes in direction. Corbel tables support part of the battlements. The walls contain arrow slots, and in the gatehouse is a garderobe. The flat roof has a crenellated parapet.

The castle had no formal garden, but at the bottom of the drive were kitchen gardens which included vegetable gardens, an orchard, extensive glass houses and a large orangery.


There are in 14 castles in Cornwall.

Image Ownership
/ Access
Notes (Key)
Caerhays Castle Neo-romantic castle 18071807–10 Intact   HH  Built 1808 by John Nash.
Carn Brea Castle Sham castle 140115–19th century Intact   Restaurant Possible medieval hunting lodge rebuilt 18–19th centuries.
Ince Castle Semi-fortified house 1640c.1640 Intact   NGS House may have been held against the Parliamentarians in 1646.
Launceston Castle Keep and bailey 100111–13th century Ruins   EH  Duchy of Cornwall property.
Pendennis Castle Artillery fort 15401540–98 Intact   EH  Withstood 5-month siege in 1646.
Pengersick Castle Fortified manor house 1510c.1510 Fragment   HH  44-storey tower remains, with later building.
Place House Tower house 140115–19th century Rebuilt   Private residence Original tower house defended against the French in 1475, subsequently strengthened, later rebuilt.
Restormel Castle Shell keep 110112–13th century Ruins   EH  Duchy of Cornwall property.
St Catherine's Castle Artillery fort 15381538–40 Ruins   EH  At mouth of River Fowey.
St Mawes Castle Artillery fort 15401540–3 Intact   EH  Position not defensible from land attack.
St Michael's Mount Fortified site 110112–17th century Substantially intact   ENT  Castle and priory church comprise single building.
Tintagel Castle Twin bailey 12271227–33 Fragmentary remains   EH  Duchy of Cornwall property.
Trematon Castle Shell keep 110112–13th century Ruins   Duchy of Cornwall

County Durham

Image Ownership
/ Access
Notes (Key)
Auckland Castle Keep and bailey 110112–16th century Rebuilt   HH 
Church of England
Mostly 16th century, fragments remain of medieval castle, residence of the Bishop of Durham.
Barnard Castle Keep and bailey 100111–14th century Ruins   EH 
Bishopton Castle Motte and bailey 110112th century Earthworks   HAL  Well-preserved earthworks.
Bowes Castle Keep 110112th century Fragmentary remains   EH  Ruins of keep survive.
Brancepeth Castle Keep and bailey 130114–19th century Reconstructed   Private Substantial medieval portions including 5 towers incorporated in 19th century rebuilding.
Durham Castle Keep and bailey 100111–14th century Rebuilt   University College, Durham Much altered during continuous occupation since c.1072.
Lambton Castle Neo-romantic castle 1820c.1820–8 Intact Wedding venue / Earl of Durham Later additions demolished following subsidence.
Lumley Castle Quadrangular castle 1392c.1392 Intact   Hotel / Earl of Scarbrough Altered c.1580 and 1721.
Mortham Tower Fortified manor house 130114–16th century Intact   Private 140115th century tower, formerly in Yorkshire.
Raby Castle Castle 110112–14th century Intact   HH 
Lord Barnard
Altered 18–19th centuries.
Staindrop Tower house 150116th century Restored Holiday accommodation Probably built as a hunting lodge for the Neville family of Raby Castle.
Scargill Castle Tower house 120113–15th century Fragment   Private, farm Amongst farm buildings.
Walworth Castle Sham castle 1601c.1600 Restored   Hotel South-west tower and adjoining wall possibly medieval.
Witton Castle Castle 1410c.1410 Restored   Caravan site Extended 1790–5. Used as a leisure centre for a caravan site.
Auckland Castle in County Durham

Auckland Castle (also known as Auckland Palace or locally as the Bishop's Castle or Bishop's Palace) is a castle in the town of Bishop Auckland in County Durham.

The castle has been the official residence of the Bishop of Durham since 1832. However, it has been owned by the diocese for more than 800 years, being established as a hunting lodge for the Prince Bishops of Durham. It is more like a Gothic country house than a true castle with a military function. The castle is surrounded by 800 acres of parkland, which was originally used by the Bishops for hunting.

In around 1183 Bishop Pudsey established a manor house on the site. Bishop Bek, who preferred the town as his main residence over Durham Castle due to its proximity to hunting grounds, later converted the manor house into a castle. After the dis-establishment of the Church of England, at the end of the first civil war, Auckland Castle was sold to Sir Arthur Hazelrig, who demolished much of the castle, including the chapel, and built a mansion.

Barnard Castle

Barnard Castle is a ruined medieval castle situated in the town of the same name in County Durham. A stone castle was built on the site of an earlier defended position from around 1095 to 1125 by Guy de Balliol. Between 1125 and 1185 his nephew Bernard de Balliol and his son Bernard II extended the building. In 1216 the castle was besieged by Alexander II of Scotland. It was still held by the Balliol family although its ownership was disputed by the Bishops of Durham. When John Balliol was deposed as King of Scotland in 1296 the castle was passed to the Bishop of Durham. Around 1300 Edward I granted it to the Earl of Warwick. In 1477 during the Wars of the Roses, Richard, Duke of Gloucester (later Richard III) took possession of the castle, which became one of his favourite residences.

Over the next two centuries the Nevilles enlarged and improved the estate and created a substantial and impressive castle. However when Charles Neville, 6th Earl of Westmorland was attainted for his leading role in the Rising of the North the Neville estates were sequestered.

Bishopton Castle in County Durham

Bishopton Castle was a medieval castle in County Durham. It was built by Roger de Conyers in 1143, in the village of Bishopton, near to the town of Darlington.[1] Constructed in a motte-and-bailey design, the castle had two baileys, rather than the usual one, and originally had two large enclosures beyond the baileys.[2] In the 12th century it was surrounded by a low artificial lake, fed by the brook to the west, and could only be accessed by causeways.[3] De Conyers built the castle during a dispute with William Cumin, who laid claim to be the Bishop of Durham; de Conyers supported Cumin's rival, William of St. Barbara.[4] Historian Lise Hull believes that the licence to crenellate given to de Conyers for his castle may be the first recorded instance of this in England.[5]

Bowes Castle in County Durham


Bowes Castle was built on the site of a Roman fort that guarded the Stainforth Pass through the Pennines. The castle was constructed between 1171 and 1174. During its history it was besieged twice, once in 1216 and again in 1322. Shortly after the second siege it was abandoned and fell into ruin.

Brancepeth Castle from the east, showing the two 19th-century gate towers (right) and older chapel and curtain walls (centre and left)

Brancepeth Castle is in the village of Brancepeth in County Durham]] some five miles south west of the city of Durham.

A succession of buildings has been on the site. The first was a Norman castle built by the Bulmers, which was rebuilt by the Nevilles in the late 14th century. For many years the castle was owned by the Neville family until in 1569 it was confiscated by the Crown following the family's involvement in the Rising of the North.

Brancepeth Castle in 1782, before its 19th-century expansion
West side of the castle. The 19th-century addition to an older section of the castle can be seen below the left turret.

There have been a number of other owners since that time. In the early 17th century the estate was granted by the Crown to Robert Carr, 1st Earl of Somerset, from whom it subsequently confiscated the castle back due to his involvement in a poisoning scandal. In 1636, three men who had bought the castle from the King's Commissioners in 1633 sold it to Ralph Cole of Newcastle. His grandson, Ralph Cole MP, sold the property in about 1720 to Sir Henry Belaysyse. In 1796 the castle was acquired by the Russells.

The present building is largely a 19th-century restoration carried out in the 1820s by John Matthew Russell and improved in the mid-19th century by architect Anthony Salvin for William Russell, (High Sheriff of Durham in 1841).

Lumley Castle

Lumley Castle is a 14th century quadrangular castle at Chester-le-Street near to the city of Durham. It is named for its original creator, Sir Ralph Lumley, who converted his family manor house into a castle in 1389 after returning from wars in Scotland. However, after being implicated in a plot to overthrow Henry IV he was imprisoned and ultimately executed, forfeiting his lands to the Earl of Somerset. In 1421 the ownership of the Castle reverted to Sir Ralph Lumley's grandson, Thomas.

South−east corner of Walworth Castle

Walworth Castle is a 16th century mansion house, built in the style of a medieval castle and situated at Walworth, County Durham near Darlington. It was completed around 1600, probably by Thomas Holt for Thomas Jenison. It stands on the site of a former manor house or castle built in the 12th century by the Hansard family.

The castle is built of partially rendered limestone rubble, and the roof is of Welsh slate. The west tower is older, and has gunloops, narrow trefoil−headed and round−headed windows. It has a main, south−facing building of five bays and three storeys between two four−storey, round, angle towers, with east and west wings on the north side, making up three sides of a square originally open to the north. However a range of early 19th century buildings on the north side of the square now encloses the courtyard.

Some flagstones of unknown date were discovered in situ in the cellar or basement of the castle in 2002. Internal renovation took place in 1740, so that the interior now has important mid−18th century features, such as Palladian plasterwork and Rococo details. In 1864 the main staircase was rebuilt and the west wing was given a new front.

Witton Castle

Witton Castle is a much altered 15th century castle, which is the centrepiece of a holiday and caravan country park at Witton le Wear near Bishop Auckland.

Sir Ralph Eure obtained a licence to crenellate his manor house in 1410 and created the castle. The castle was held by Royalist Sir William Darcy during the English Civil War. He compounded for the return of his confiscated estate which was sold by his descendant Henry Darcy to William Cuthbert in 1743. The castle later passed to Hopper but was severely damaged in a fire which in 1796 destroyed most of the castle interior.

In 1816 Sir William Chaytor of Croft Hall, Yorkshire purchased the castle estate for £78,000 and restored the fabric and rebuilt the interior in modern style. The estate was rich in coal and Witton Park colliery was sunk in 1825.



  1. Hull (2009), p.195.
  2. Pettifer, p.26.
  3. Creighton, p.14.
  4. Pettifer, p.26.
  5. Hull (2006), p.128.


Cumbria has perhaps more castles than any other county of England, a result of its proximity to the Scottish border.

Image Ownership
/ Access
Notes (Key)
Appleby Castle Keep and bailey 110112–17th century Restored   Private Restored 17th century by Lady Anne Clifford.
Armathwaite Castle Tower house 140115th century Intact   Private Incorporated in later buildings.
Arnside Tower Tower house 140115th century Ruins   Private Freestanding tower house.
Askerton Castle Castle 130114–16th century Restored   Private, farm Altered by Anthony Salvin.
Beetham Hall Fortified manor house 130114th century Partly ruined   Private
Bewcastle Castle Courtyard castle 130114–15th century Fragmentary ruins   HC  Sited within Roman fort.
Bewley Castle Fortified manor house 120113–14th century Fragmentary ruins Private Once a residence of the Bishops of Carlisle.
Blencow Hall Fortified house 140115–16th century Intact   Holiday accommodation Altered 1590.
Brackenburgh Old Tower Pele tower 130114–15th century Substantially intact Private Adjoining large 19th century house.
Brackenhill Tower Tower house 15861586 Intact Holiday accommodation Restored 21st century.
Branthwaite Hall Pele tower 130114–15th century Intact   Private 160117th century additions.
Brough Castle Keep and bailey 100111–14th century Ruins   EH  Restored 1659–62 by Lady Anne Clifford.
Brougham Castle Keep and bailey 120113–14th century Ruins   EH  Converted into country house in 17th century by Lady Anne Clifford.
Brougham Hall Fortified manor house 120113–19th century Ruins   Crafts centre Ruins of 19th century house incorporating remains of earlier building.
Broughton Tower Pele tower 130114th century Intact School Incorporated in later building.
Burneside Hall Tower house 130114th century Ruins   Private
Carlisle Castle Keep and bailey 110112–15th century Substantially intact   EH  Converted to barracks 19th century.
Catterlen Hall Tower house 140115th century Intact   Private Later additions.
Clifton Hall Pele tower 150116th century Substantially intact   EH  Used as a farm building until 1973.
Cockermouth Castle Enclosure castle 120113–14th century Partly restored   Private residence 1919th century additions.
Corby Castle Tower house 120113th century Rebuilt   Private residence Concealed within a Georgian Mansion House.
Dacre Castle Tower house 130114th century Restored   Private residence Restored 17th and 19th centuries.
Dalston Hall Fortified house 140115th century Intact Hotel Later additions.
Dalton Castle Pele tower 130114th century Restored   ENT  Remodelled c.1704 and 1856.
Drawdykes Castle Tower house 130114th century Intact Private, farm Original tower with early Classical Revival facade.
Drumburgh Castle Tower house 130114th century Habitable   Private Converted into farmhouse.
Egremont Castle Enclosure castle 110112–13th century Fragmentary remains   EH 
Gleaston Castle Enclosure castle 130114th century Fragmentary remains   Private Abandoned late 15th century.
Greystoke Castle Castle 130114–19th century Rebuilt   Wedding venue Rebuilt incorporating parts of 14th century building, remodelled 1840 by Salvin.
Harbybrow Tower Pele tower 140115th century Ruin Private Adjoining 19th century farmhouse.
Hayton Castle Tower house 130114–15th century Substantially intact   Private Castle converted to house.
Hazelslack Tower Pele tower 130114th century Ruins   Private Near Arnside.
Howgill Castle Tower house 130114th century Substantially intact Private Altered and remodelled 17–18th century.
Hutton-in-the-Forest Pele tower 130114–19th century Intact   HH  Large country-house extensions.
Hutton John Pele tower 130114th century Intact   HH  Later alterations and additions.
Ingmire Hall Pele tower 150116–20th century Rebuilt   Private apartments Incorporated in large mostly 19th century mansion.
Isel Hall Tower house 130114–15th century Intact HH  Later additions.
Kendal Castle Ringwork 110112–14th century Fragmentary remains   HAL 
Kentmere Hall Pele tower 130114th century Intact   Private
Kirkandrews Tower Pele tower 150116th century Intact   Private
Kirkoswald Castle Enclosure castle 120113–15th century Fragmentary remains Private
Linstock Castle Tower house 110112–13th century Substantially intact Private Altered and remodelled 17–20th century.
Lowther Castle Neo-romantic castle 18061806–14 Ruins   HH  Shell of 19th century castle by Sir Robert Smirke, on site of medieval hall.
Middleton Hall Fortified manor house 130114th century Habitable   Private Altered and extended 15–19th centuries.
Millom Castle Castle 130114th century Ruins   HC  150116–17th century farmhouse built into ruins.
Muncaster Castle Tower house 120113–14th century Restored   HH  Remodelled by Anthony Salvin, home of Tom Fool, 16th century jester.
Naworth Castle Keep and bailey 120113–16th century Restored   Wedding venue
Earl of Carlisle
Altered and restored 18th and 19th centuries.
Newbiggin Hall Fortified house 140115–16th century Intact   Private Remodelled by Salvin.
Pendragon Castle Tower house 110112–14th century Fragmentary remains   HC 
Penrith Castle Castle 130114–15th century Fragmentary remains   EH 
Piel Castle Castle 130114–15th century Ruins   EH  Also known as Fouldrey Castle.
Prior's Tower, Carlisle Pele tower 140115th century Intact   Church of England Part of the Deanery, alongside later buildings.
Rose Castle Quadrangular Castle 140115–16th century Restored   Church of England Converted to private house 17th century, residence of the Bishop of Carlisle until 2011.
Scaleby Castle Tower house 120113–15th century Partly ruined   Private Incorporated with later house.
Sizergh Castle Tower house 130114–16th century Restored   ENT  Altered 18–20th centuries.
Toppin Castle Sham castle 1919th century Intact   Private Imitation tower house.
Ubarrow Hall Pele tower 1401Medieval Substantially intact   Private Alongside later building, reduced in height.
Wharton Hall Fortified manor house 130114–17th century Partly restored   Private
Whelp Castle, Kirkby Thore Masonry castle Mentioned 1199 No trace above ground Private field Traces visible 1777
Whitehall, Mealsgate Tower house 130114–15th century Substantially intact Holiday accommodation Alterations by Salvin.
Workington Hall Tower house 130114–18th century Ruins   Local authority Also known as Curwen Hall.
Wray Castle Neo-romantic castle 18401840–7 Intact   ENT 
Wraysholme Tower Tower house 140115th century Substantially intact   Private, farm Used as barn and cow-house, adjoining 19th century house.
Yanwath Hall Pele tower 140115th century Intact   Private Adjoining later building.
Appleby Castle from above
Caesar's Tower

Appleby Castle is in the town of Appleby-in-Westmorland, Cumbria overlooking the River Eden. It consists of a 12th-century castle keep which is known as Caesar's tower, and a mansion house. These, together with their associated buildings, are set in a courtyard surrounded by curtain walls. The castle was founded by Ranulf le Meschin at the beginning of the 12th century. In about 1170 the square stone keep was built. The castle was in Royal hands when the Scottish King, William the Lion, invaded the Eden Valley in 1174. The constable of the castle surrendered without a fight.

In 1203 the castle was granted to Robert de Vieuxpont by King John. In 1269 it came into the possession of Roger de Clifford and it remained in the ownership of the Clifford family for nearly 400 years. The upper parts of Caesar's tower were altered in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The north wall of house and the west part of north wing with the round tower date from the 13th century. The eastern part of the house was built in 1454. The house was partly dismantled in 1648 and was restored by Lady Anne Clifford in 1651–53. The house was largely rebuilt in 1686 and the north-west wing was added in 1695. In the 19th century it was again restored and sash windows were inserted.

Caesar's tower is built in grey stone rubble and ashlar. It is about 80 ft high and has four storeys. The main house is in two wings which are at right angles to each other. A semicircular round tower protrudes from the north wall of the north wing and a large square tower is at the south end of the east wing. The gateway is in grey stone and battlemented, dating probably from the 17th century. In the grounds of the castle is Lady Anne's Bee-house, which was built by Lady Anne Clifford in the middle of the 17th century. It is a square, stone building in two storeys with a pyramid roof and a door on the lower level. The upper level has a pointed arched window on each of three sides and a door on the fourth side.


There are nine castles of note in Derbyshire.

/ Access
Notes (Key)
Bolsover Castle Castle 110112–17th century Rebuilt EH  Castle rebuilt as 17th century mansion.
Codnor Castle Castle 120113–14th century Fragmentary remains HC 
Elvaston Castle Castellated house 160117–19th century Derelict Derbyshire County Council Built 1633, remodelled by James Wyatt in 19th century, now within country park. Building at risk.
Haddon Hall Fortified manor house 130114–15th century Intact HH  Altered 16–17th centuries, restored 1920s.
Mackworth Castle Fortified manor house 140115th century Fragment Private Ruined gatehouse adjoining farm.
Peveril Castle Keep and bailey 100111–14th century Ruins EH  Commanding position above ravine.
Pilsbury Castle Motte and bailey 100111–12th century Earthworks HAL 
Riber Castle Sham castle 18681868 Ruins Private School 1892–1930.
Wingfield Manor Fortified manor house 140115th century Ruins EH  Abandoned 18th century.

Bolsover Castle

Bolsover Castle

Codnor Castle

Codnor Castle

Elvaston Castle

Elvaston Castle

Haddon Hall

Haddon Hall

Mackworth Castle

Mackworth Castle

Peveril Castle

Peveril Castle

Pilsbury Castle

Pilsbury Castle

Riber Castle

Riber Castle

Wingfield Manor

Wingfield Manor


There are 18 castles of note in Devon.

Image Ownership
/ Access
Notes (Key)
Affeton Castle Fortified manor house 140115th century Fragment   Private Large gatehouse survives from house sacked during Civil War, with 19th century alterations and additions.
Berry Pomeroy Castle Enclosure castle 140115th century Ruins   EH  Very late castle, designed to defend against artillery.
Bickleigh Castle Fortified manor house 140115th century Restored   Wedding venue Incorporated in later buildings.
Compton Castle Fortified manor house 130114–16th century Restored   ENT  Used as farm after 1750, restored 20th century.
Dartmouth Castle Castle 14811481 Restored   EH  Converted to artillery castle 1509–47.
Castle Drogo Neo-romantic castle 19111911–1930 Intact   ENT  By Edwin Lutyens.
Gidleigh Castle Keep 1301c.1300 Ruins   HC 
Hemyock Castle Enclosure castle 1380c.1380 Fragmentary remains   Private
Kingswear Castle Artillery fort 14911491–1502 Intact   Landmark Trust
Lydford Castle Keep and bailey 110112–13th century Ruins   EH 
Marisco Castle Keep and bailey 1243c.1243 Restored   ENT  Restored 1643.
Okehampton Castle Keep and bailey 100111–14th century Fragmentary remains   EH 
Plympton Castle Motte and bailey 110112th century Fragmentary remains   HC 
Powderham Castle Fortified manor house 130114–16th century Restored   HH 
Earl of Devon
Remodelled 18th and 19th centuries.
Rougemont Castle Castle 100111–12th century Fragments   Wedding venue Medieval fragments survive with later buildings.
Salcombe Castle Artillery fort 15401540s Ruins   HAL  Refortified 1643–5.
Tiverton Castle Quadrangular castle 130114th century Partly habitable   HH  150116th century house built within castle.
Totnes Castle Shell keep 100111–14th century Ruins   EH  Well-preserved keep on high motte.
Watermouth Castle Neo-romantic castle 18251825–45 Intact   Theme park


There are ten castles of note in Dorset.

Image Ownership
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Notes (Key)
Brownsea Castle Castellated house 150116–19th century Intact   ENT  Incorporates part of 16th century Henrician Castle.
Christchurch Castle Motte and bailey 110112–14th century Fragmentary remains   EH  Well-preserved hall known as Constable's House survives, featuring one of only five remaining Norman chimneys in England.
Corfe Castle Keep and bailey 100111–13th century Extensive ruins   ENT  Besieged and slighted during the Civil War.
Lulworth Castle Sham castle 1610c.1610 Restored   EH  Hunting lodge, gutted by fire 1929.
Pennsylvania Castle Neo-romantic castle 18011800 Intact   Private On the Isle of Portland, built for John Penn to designs by James Wyatt.
Portland Castle Artillery fort 15391539 Intact   EH  Private residence 1816–70.
Rufus Castle Castle 140115th century Ruins   Private Also known as Bow and Arrow Castle.
Sandsfoot Castle Artillery fort 150116th century Fragmentary remains   HAL  Abandoned 1644–5.
Sherborne Castle Keep and bailey 110112th century Ruins   EH  Replaced by 16–17th house which became known as Sherborne Castle.
Woodsford Castle Fortified manor house 130114th century Habitable   Landmark Trust

East Riding of Yorkshire

There are four castles of note in the East Riding of Yorkshire.

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Notes (Key)
Flamborough Castle Fortified Manor House 130114th century Fragmentary ruins Private Building At Risk.
Paull Holme Tower Tower House 140115th century Ruins Private Originally part of larger house, roofless.
Skipsea Castle Motte and Bailey 100111th century Earthworks EH  Well-preserved earthworks.
Wressle Castle Quadrangular castle 13901390 Ruins Private, farm Originally moated site, largely demolished 1650, south range remains, inhabited until gutted by fire in 1796.

Flamborough Castle

Flamborough Castle

Flamborough Castle is a ruined a medieval fortified manor house. It is located in Flamborough a village in the East Riding of Yorkshire on the prominent coastal feature of Flamborough Head.

Paull Holme Tower

Paull Holme Tower

Paull Holme Tower is a late-medieval period fortified tower. It is part of a rectangular, moated enclosure near the village of Paull dating from the beginning of the 15th century. The tower is three storeys high, each floor having a single chamber, the whole protected by a portcullis. There has been debate as to the purpose of the site - in part the fortification resembles the more northern pele towers, although alternatively the tower may have been built to give luxury accommodation overlooking the River Humber that runs nearby, similar to some properties built near King's Lynn.

Skipsea Castle

Skipsea Castle

Skipsea Castle is a Norman Motte and Bailey castle located south of Bridlington. All that remains visible today are the earthworks, having been destroyed by the order of Henry III. The castle was built around 1086, in the years following the Norman Conquest by Drogo de la Bouerer, the First Earl of Holderness, in order to defend against Viking raids.

In the 13th century, William de Froz II, Lord of Holderness rebelled against the king. As a result, in 1221 William de Froz II was excommunicated and Skipsea Castle was destroyed. Eventually, William de Froz II reconciled with King Henry III in 1227. Skipsea Castle was returned to William de Froz II, but without any defences.

Wressle Castle

Wressle Castle

Wressle Castle is a quadrangular castle located in Wressle. The castle was built c.1380 - 1390 by Sir Thomas Percy. The castle was garrisoned by Parliament during the English Civil War and was largely demolished by an act of Parliament in 1650 as a precaution against future use in any further conflict. A fire gutted the remaining south range of the castle in 1796.

East Sussex

There are seven castles of note in East Sussex.

Image Ownership
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Notes (Key)
Bodiam Castle Quadrangular castle 1385c.1385 Ruins   ENT  Wide moat.
Camber Castle Artillery fort 1540c.1540 Ruins   EH  'Dismantled' 1642 after sea receded.
Hastings Castle Keep and bailey 110112th century Fragmentary ruins   HC 
Local Authority
Ruined by 1399.
Herstmonceux Castle Fortified mansion 140115th century Restored   Queen's University Brick-built, interior buildings dismantled 1777, restored 20th century, former home of Royal Greenwich Observatory, now Study Centre.
Lewes Castle Keep and bailey 110112–14th century Ruins   EH  Unusual in that it has two mottes.
Pevensey Castle Keep and bailey 110112th century Ruins   EH  Castle built within surviving walls of Roman fort of Saxon Shore.
Rye Castle Tower House 1250c.1250 Intact   HM  Originally called Baddings Tower.


There are five castles of note in Essex.

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Notes (Key)
Colchester Castle Tower keep 100111th century Intact HM 
Local authority
Reduced in height in 17th century.
Hadleigh Castle Castle 120113–14th century Fragmentary remains EH 
Hedingham Castle Tower keep 1130–40 Substantially intact HH  Castle demolished 17th century except for keep, well-preserved interior despite fire of 1954.
Pleshey Castle Motte and bailey 110112th century Earthworks Private
Walden Castle Keep and bailey 110112th century Fragmentary remains HC  Remains of keep.

Colchester Castle

Colchester Castle in Essex

Colchester Castle's keep at 152 x 112 ft is the largest ever built in Britain and the largest surviving example in Europe. There has always been debate as to the original height of the castle. It has been suggested that the keep was at one time four storeys high, though for a number of reasons, including the peaceful region of the castle and the lack of local stone, it is now thought that it had only two or three. The castle is built on the foundations (or the podium) of the earlier Roman temple of Claudius (built between AD 54–60). These foundations, with their massive vaults, have since been uncovered and can be viewed today on a castle tour.

The castle was ordered by William the Conqueror and designed by Gundulf, Bishop of Rochester. Building began between 1069 and 1076 under the supervision of Eudo Dapifer, who became the castle's steward on its completion. Building stopped in 1080 because of a threat of Viking invasion, but the castle was completed by around 1100. Many materials, such as Roman brick and clay taken from the Roman town, were used in the building and these can easily be seen. Scaffolding pole holes and garderobes can still be seen in the structure.

Hadleigh Castle


Castle Hedingham


Pleshey Castle


Walden Castlet



There are six castles of note in Gloucestershire.

Image Ownership
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Notes (Key)
Berkeley Castle Keep and bailey 110112–14th century Intact   HH  Largely unaltered until 1920s, when interior modernised by 8th Earl of Berkeley.
Beverstone Castle Pentagonal castle 120113–15th century Ruins   NGS 160117th century house built within ruins.
Ruardean Castle Fortified manor house 120113th century Fragment  
St Briavel's Castle Keep and bailey 120113th century Habitable   EH  Youth hostel.
Sudeley Castle Quadrangular castle 140115th century Restored   HH  Restored as country house 19th century.
Thornbury Castle Fortified house 1511c.1511 Substantially intact   Hotel Restored 19th century.

Greater London

There is one castle of note in Greater London.

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Notes (Key)
Tower of London Concentric castle 100111–13th century Intact Historic Royal Palaces White Tower begun c.1077, complete by 1100, curtain walls added 13th century, working portcullis.

Tower of London

The Tower of London standing upon Tower Hill in central London

The Tower of London, or more properly, Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, stands on the north bank of the River Thames in central London. Construction began in 1066 shortly after the Norman invasion. The castle's common name comes from the White Tower which was built in 1078 and was seen at the time as a symbol of oppression. As a whole, the Tower is a complex of several buildings set within two concentric rings of defensive walls and a moat. There were several phases of expansion, mainly under Kings Richard the Lionheart, Henry III and Edward I in the 12th and 13th centuries. The general layout established by the late 13th century remains despite later activity on the site.

The Tower of London was besieged several times and controlling it has been important to controlling the country. By the time of the Tudors the Tower became used less as a royal residence, and despite attempts to refortify and repair the castle its defences lagged behind developments to deal with artillery.

The Tower was oriented with its strongest and most impressive defences overlooking London and visually dominating the surrounding area. The castle is made up of three wards or enclosures. The innermost ward contains the White Tower and is the earliest phase of the castle. Encircling it to the north, east, and west is the inner ward, built during the reign of Richard the Lionheart. Finally, there is the outer ward which encompasses the castle and was built under Edward I. Although there were several phases of expansion after William the Conqueror founded the Tower of London, the general layout has remained the same since Edward I completed his rebuild in 1285. The castle encloses an area of almost 12 acres with a further six acres around the Tower of London constituting the Tower Liberties – land under the direct influence of the castle and cleared for military reasons.

Greater Manchester

There are two castles of note in Greater Manchester.

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Notes (Key)
Buckton Castle Ringwork 110112th century Earthworks HAL  Situated on Buckton Moor, 335m above sea level, hilltop.
Radcliffe Tower Tower house 14031403 Fragment HC 
Local authority

Buckton Castle

A view of the surviving defensive ditch around the site of Buckton Castle

Buckton Castle is a medieval enclosure castle near Carrbrook, Stalybridge. The castle is oval, with a 3m wide stone curtain wall surrounded by a 10m wide, 6m deep ditch. It is uncertain who built the castle, but it may have been constructed for the early of Chester in the 12th century; it was lying derelict by 1360 when it was first mentioned in historical sources. The small number of finds retrieved during archaeological investigation of the site indicates that Buckton Castle may not have been completed.

The castle stands 335m above sea level on Buckton Hill, a steep sandstone ridge. The castle's positioning may have been to allow its garrison to guard the Tame Valley; both castle and valley were in the medieval manor of Tintwistle.

This plan was drawn by George Ormerod in 1817; it shows the shape of the castle, with orientation. He did not include any internal features.

The entrance to the ringwork is to the northwest of the site. On the south-facing side of the site are the remains of a stone curtain wall. The north-west entrance was protected by a stone gatehouse; the wall thickness suggests the tower was probably two storeys high.

The interior of the castle is artificially raised 1.5m above ground level. According to a 1360 survey of property in Longdendale, Buckton Castle may have had a hall and a chapel. In the 18th century, antiquarian Thomas Percival recorded a well within the castle, and walls of buildings inside the castle still standing to a height of 2m. However, these features were no longer obvious when Ormerod wrote about the castle in 1817, and have not been discovered by archaeological excavations.

The castle is now overgrown with heather and peat, and there are no above-ground ruins.

Radcliffe Tower

The tower in the early nineteenth century with the manor house on the right prior to its demolition.
The standing remains of Radcliffe Tower

Radcliffe Tower is the only surviving part of a manor house in Radcliffe, Greater Manchester. The house was rebuilt in 1403 by James de Radcliffe, who was lord of the manor of Radcliffe, and consisted of a stone-built hall and one or two towers, probably built with ashlar blocks. De Radcliffe was given a royal licence to fortify the site including adding crenellations and battlements.

The manor house was demolished in the 19th century leaving only the tower. The tower measures 10.5 yards by 19 yards and survives to about 20 feet in height.


There are a number of notable castles in Hampshire.

Image Ownership
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Notes (Key
Calshot Castle Artillery fort 150116th century Substantially intact   EH  Altered 18–20th centuries, in use until 1961.
Hurst Castle Artillery fort 150116th century Substantially intact   EH  Repaired and refortified 19th century.
Netley Castle Artillery fort 150116–19th century Rebuilt   Convalescent home Remodelled and extended 1885–90.
Odiham Castle Shell keep and bailey 1201Early 13th century Fragmentary ruins HC 
Local authority
Built by King John.
Portchester Castle Keep and bailey 100111–12th century Extensive ruins   EH  Built within surviving walls of Roman fort of the Saxon Shore.
Southampton Castle Keep and bailey 100111–14th century Fragments   HAL  North bailey wall survives.
Southsea Castle Artillery fort 150116th century Rebuilt   HC 
Local authority
Altered several times.
Warblington Castle Fortified manor house 150116th century Fragmentary ruins   Private Remains of possibly fortified building besieged during the Civil War and subsequently destroyed, on site of earlier fortified manor house.
Winchester Castle Motte and bailey 100111–13th century Fragment   HC 
Local authority
Great hall survives, reroofed in 1873.
Wolvesey Castle Castle 110112th century Ruins   EH 


Image Ownership
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Notes (Key)
Brampton Bryan Castle Castle 120113–14th century Ruins Private Gatehouse survives.
Clifford Castle Motte and bailey 100111–13th century Fragments   Private Building At Risk.
Colwall Castle Motte and bailey 100111th century Earthworks   HAL  Situated within Iron Age hill fort on the summit of Herefordshire Beacon at a height of 1100 ft, possibly pre-Conquest.
Croft Castle Quadrangular castle 130114th century Rebuilt   ENT  Converted to 16/17th century house.
Downton Castle Neo-romantic castle 1774c.1774–8 Intact   Private Altered and extended 1860–70.
Eastnor Castle Neo-romantic castle 18111811–20 Intact   HH  By Robert Smirke.
Ewyas Harold Castle Motte and bailey 100111th century Earthworks   HAL  Probably pre-Conquest, built c.1048, recorded in Domesday Book as rebuilt by William FitzOsbern.
Goodrich Castle Concentric castle 110112–13th century Ruins   EH  Partly demolished during Civil War.
Hampton Court Fortified manor house 14271427 Intact   HH  Remodelled in 1830–40s.
Kentchurch Court Fortified manor house 130114th century Fragment HH  Part of tower and a gateway survive of medieval structure, remainder largely rebuilt by Nash between 1795 and 1807.
Kinnersley Castle Castle 1301Medieval Rebuilt   HH  150116–17th century house on site of medieval castle, of which no visible traces remain.
Longtown Castle Keep and bailey 110112–13th century Fragmentary ruins   EH  Circular keep.
Pembridge Castle Keep and bailey 110112–13th century Partly habitable   Private Reconstructed 20th century.
Snodhill Castle Keep and bailey 100111–14th century Fragmentary ruins   HAL 
Stapleton Castle Motte and bailey 110112th century Earthworks   HAL  Ruins of 17th century house on site of medieval castle.
Treago Castle Fortified manor house 140115–16th century Restored   Private Altered 17–19th centuries.
Wigmore Castle Keep and bailey 100111–14th century Fragmentary ruins   EH  Partly dismantled 1643.
Wilton Castle Castle 120113th century Fragmentary ruins   HC  Remains incorporated in 19th century house.


There are three castles of note in Hertfordshire.

Image Ownership
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Notes (Key)
Berkhamsted Castle Motte and bailey 100111–13th century Fragmentary remains   EH  Unoccupied since 1495.
Bishop's Stortford Castle Motte and bailey 100111–12th century Earthworks   HAL  Also known as Waytemore Castle.
Hertford Castle Motte and bailey 100111–12th century Fragments   Local authority 140115th century gatehouse survives, altered and extended 18–20th centuries, remainder largely demolished early 17th century.

Isles of Scilly

There are three castles on the Isles of Scilly.

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Notes (Key)
Cromwell's Castle Artillery tower 16511651 Substantially intact EH 
King Charles's Castle Artillery fort 15501550 Ruins EH  Ruined
Star Castle Artillery fort 15931593 Intact Hotel Substantially intact

Cromwell's Castle

Cromwell's Castle

Cromwell's Castle is a coastal gun tower built by Oliver Cromwell on the island of Tresco. It was constructed in 1651 - 1652 as a replacement for King Charles's Castle. The guns were mounted on the roof above the garrison's living quarters and magazines. The tower was originally entered at first floor level by an external stair on the south side. The present entrance dates from the construction of the lower gun platform added in the 1740s by Abraham Tovey, Master Gunner.

King Charles's Castle

King Charles's Castle

King Charles's Castle is a coastal artillery fort near the northern extremity of the island of Tresco. It is now in ruins. It was a semi-hexagonal gun tower designed to provide a wide field of fire and two-storeyed to give at least two tiers of guns. The domestic quarters for the garrison were at the rear.

Despite its name, the castle was built 1550-1554 during the reign of Edward VI. During the English Civil War low earthwork defences were thrown up beyond the castle to protect it from landward attack. After the war it was replaced by Cromwell's Castle.

Star Castle

Star Castle

Star Castle is a fortress on St Mary's, Isles of Scilly, built in 1593 by Francis Godolphin in the shape of an eight-pointed star. Little altered it is an almost complete example of an Elizabethan fort.

Isle of Wight

There are four castles of note on the Isle of Wight.

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Carisbrooke Castle Keep and bailey 110112–14th century Substantially intact EH  Refortified in 1590s as artillery fortress, gatehouse restored 19th century, former seat of the Governor of the Isle of Wight.
Norris Castle Neo-romantic castle 1801c.1800 Intact Private Gothic Revival, by James Wyatt.
Yarmouth Castle Artillery fort 15471547 Substantially intact EH  Altered 17th century.
West Cowes Castle Artillery fort 150116–19th century Rebuilt Royal Yacht Squadron Fragments of 16th century structure incorporated in later building.

Carisbrooke Castle

The gatehouse of Carisbrooke Castle

Carisbrooke Castle is a historic motte-and-bailey castle located in the village of Carisbrooke near Newport. The site may have been occupied in pre-Roman times. The existence of a ruined wall suggests that there was a building there in late Roman times. The Jutes may have taken over the fort by the late 7th century. An Anglo-Saxon stronghold occupied the site during the 8th century. Around 1000, a wall was built around the hill as a defence against Viking raids.

From 1100 The castle remained in the possession of Richard de Redvers' family, and over the next two hundred years his descendants improved the castle with stone walls, towers and a keep. This was until 1293, when Countess Isabella de Fortibus, the last Redvers resident sold it to Edward I, after which the government was entrusted to wardens as representatives of the crown. In the reign of Richard II it was unsuccessfully attacked by the French. The keep was added to the castle in the reign of Henry I, and in the reign of Elizabeth I; when the Spanish Armada was expected, it was surrounded by an elaborate pentagonal fortification by Sir George Carey.

A model of Carisbooke Castle as it appeared during the 14th century

Carisbrooke was the strongest castle on the Island; though it is visible from some distance, it does not dominate the countryside like many other castles.

There are traces of a Roman fort underneath the later buildings. Seventy-one steps lead up to the keep; the reward is a fine view. In the centre of the castle enclosure are the domestic buildings; these are mostly of the 13th century, with upper parts of the 16th century. Some are in ruins, but the main rooms were used as the official residence of the Governor of the Isle of Wight until the 1940s, and they remain in good repair.

The Great Hall, Great Chamber and several smaller rooms are open to the public, and an upper room houses the Isle of Wight Museum. Most rooms are partly furnished, but on the whole it is the fireplaces and other features of the rooms themselves which generate the most interest. The gateway tower was erected by Lord Scales who was lord of the castle at the time in 1464.

The chapel is located next to the main gate. Within the walls is a well 200 feet deep and another in the centre of the keep is reputed to have been still deeper. Near the domestic buildings is the well-house with a donkey wheel.

Surrounding the whole castle are large earthworks, designed by the Italian Federigo Gianibelli, and begun in the year before the Spanish Armada. They were finished in the 1590s. The outer gate has the date 1598 and the arms of Queen Elizabeth I.

Norris Castle

Norris Castle

Norris Castle stands on the northeast point of East Cowes. The castle was designed by James Wyatt for Lord Henry Seymour. It has a galleted facade with crenellations, but all of this is for show as the castle has no defensive fortifications. The building's original function was entertaining. Despite its size, it has only four bedrooms. The illusion of size is created by the fact that most of the building is occupied by only one room.

Yarmouth Castle

Yarmouth Castle

Yarmouth Castle is a small off-square blockhouse built by Henry VIII in 1547, to guard Yarmouth harbour. It was built as part of Henry's programme to fortify the English coast with a chain of coastal defences known as Device Forts or Henrician Castles. These were built to guard against the threat of foreign invasion. As it is a later fortification it did not have the earlier rounded or concentric shape but a square keep with angular bastions.

West Cowes Castle

West Cowes Castle

The Isle of Wight was a target of attempted French invasions, and there were notable incursions. Henrician Castles were built in both settlements in the sixteenth century. The west fort in Cowes still survives to this day, albeit without the original Tudor towers, as West Cowes Castle. The fort built in East Cowes is believed to have been similar but was abandoned c1546 and since destroyed.


Image Ownership
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Notes (Key)
Allington Castle Fortified house 120113–14th century Restored   Wedding venue Restored 1905–1929.
Canterbury Castle Tower keep 110112th century Ruins   HC 
Local Authority
Demolished 1792.
Chiddingstone Castle Neo-romantic castle 1919th century Intact   HH  160117th century building converted to castle in 19th century.
Chilham Castle Keep and bailey 100111–14th century Fragment   NGS Keep survives with Jacobean house.
Cooling Castle Keep and bailey 13801380s Part ruined   Wedding venue Well-preserved gatehouse survives, barns used for events.
Deal Castle Artillery fort 150116th century Intact   EH  Formerly residence of Captain of the Cinque Ports.
Dover Castle Concentric castle 110112–13th century Intact   EH  Adapted for modern warfare 18–19th centuries.
Eynsford Castle Castle 110112th century Fragmentary ruins   EH 
Folkestone Castle Ringwork 100111th century Earthworks HAL  Commanding hill-top location.
Hever Castle Fortified manor house 130114th century Restored   HH  Restored early 19th century, working portcullis.
Kingsgate Castle Neo-romantic castle 170118–19th century Intact   Private apartments Built c.1760, rebuilt late 19th century.
Leeds Castle Castle 110112–15th century Restored   HH  Extensively rebuilt in 1822 and 1926.
Leybourne Castle Castle 120113th century Fragmentary ruins   Private 150116th century house partly incorporating ruins, rebuilt 1931.
Lullingstone Castle Semi-fortified house 15431543–80 Fragment   HH  150116th century gatehouse incorporated into later house.
Lympne Castle Fortified house 120113–14th century Restored   Wedding venue Restored and extended 1907–12.
Penshurst Place Fortified manor house 130114–15th century Fragment   HH  Remodelled 19th century, single tower and stretch of wall survive from fortifications of c.1400.
Queenborough Castle Concentric castle 13611361–77 Archaeological remains   HAL  Unique circular plan, royal castle.
Rochester Castle Tower keep 11271127 Ruins   EH  Keep 125 ft high to top of turrets.
St Leonard's Tower Tower keep 10801080 Ruins   EH 
Saltwood Castle Castle 110112–14th century Part restored   Private residence
Sandgate Castle Artillery fort 15391539–40 Substantially intact   Private residence Altered 1805–6.
Scotney Castle Fortified manor house 13781378–80 Fragment   ENT  Single surviving tower incorporated in later house.
Sissinghurst Castle Fortified manor house 140115th century Rebuilt   ENT  No fortifications remaining.
Starkey Castle Manor house 130114th century Fragment   Private Fine medieval hall-house remains from possibly fortified manor house.
Stone Castle Tower 110112th century Intact   Wedding venue Medieval tower incorporated in building of 1825.
Sutton Valence Castle Keep and bailey 110112th century Fragmentary remains   EH 
Thurnham Castle Castle 110112th century Fragmentary remains   HC 
Local authority
On steep spur of North Downs.
Tonbridge Castle Keep and bailey 100111–13th century Fragment   HC 
Local authority
Gatehouse survives.
Upnor Castle Artillery fort 15591559–67, 1599–1601 Substantially intact   EH 
Walmer Castle Artillery fort 15391539 Intact   EH  Residence of the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports from 18th century.
Westenhanger Castle Fortified manor house 1343c.1343 Fragment   Wedding venue 170118th century farmouse built within ruins.


There are eight castles of note in Lancashire.

Image Ownership
/ Access
Notes (Key)
Ashton Hall Tower house 130114–19th century Intact   Lancaster Golf Club Near Stodday, 14th century tower incorporated in later building.
Borwick Hall Pele tower 130114th century Intact   Outdoor education centre Incorporated in mainly 16th century building.
Clitheroe Castle Keep and bailey 100111–12th century Ruins   HC 
Greenhalgh Castle Quadrangular castle 14901490 Fragmentary ruins   Private Demolished 1645.
Hornby Castle Keep 120113th century Fragment   Private Keep rebuilt early 16th century, incorporated in 18–19th century house.
Lancaster Castle Keep and bailey 100111–12th century Intact   HC 
Local authority
Used as a prison from 1745, much altered 20th century through replacement of medieval buildings by Shire Hall, now Crown Court.
Thurland Castle Castle 130114–15th century Rebuilt   Private apartments Near Tunstall, ruins rebuilt in 19th century.
Turton Tower Pele tower 140115th century Intact   HH  Incorporated in later building.


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Ashby de la Zouch Castle Keep 110112–15th century Fragmentary ruins   EH  Fortified manor converted to castle by William, Lord Hastings in 1474. Largely destroyed during the Civil War. The Hastings tower (90 ft high) and a tunnel survive.
Belvoir Castle Neo-romantic castle 160117–19th century Intact   HH 
Duke of Rutland
Originally medieval castle, rebuilt 1655–68 incorporating some medieval masonry, remodelled 1801–30.
Hallaton Castle Motte and bailey 1101Medieval Earthworks   Private Well-preserved earthworks.
Kirby Muxloe Castle Quadrangular castle 14801480–3 Fragmentary ruins   EH  Moated, begun by William, Lord Hastings in 1480, remained unfinished at his death in 1483.>
Leicester Castle Castle 110112–13th century Fragments   HC 
Local authority
Great hall survives, much altered.


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Notes (Key)
Bolingbroke Castle Enclosure castle 120113–14th century Fragmentary ruins   EH  Slighted after brief siege in 1643.
Bytham Castle Motte and bailey 110112th century Earthworks   Private
Goltho Castle Motte and bailey 1080c.1080 Destroyed   Site of Saxon fortified dwelling of c.850, established by excavation.
Grimsthorpe Castle Castle 120113th century Fragment   HH  Remodelled in 18th and 19th centuries, retains 13th century south-east tower.
Hussey Tower Tower house 130114–15th century Ruins   HC 
Kyme Tower Castle 130114th century Fragment   Private
Lincoln Castle Keep and bailey 100111–13th century Substantially intact   HC 
Local Authority
Double motte and bailey.
Rochford Tower Fortified house 140115–16th century Fragment   Private 22 miles east of Boston.
Somerton Castle Quadrangular castle 12811281–1305 Fragment   Private Single tower survives, adjoining 17th century building.
Tattershall Castle Tower 14301430s Intact   ENT  Brick tower built in earlier moated enclosure for Ralph Cromwell, restored in 1911-25 by Lord Curzon.
Torksey Castle Semi-fortified house 150116th century Fragmentary ruins   Private Slighted during Civil War.


There are two castles of note in Merseyside.

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Notes (Key)
Brimstage Hall Tower house 1398c.1398 Substantially intact Crafts centre Tower remains from formerly moated fortified hall, incorporated in later building of 16th and 19th centuries.
Leasowe Castle Sham castle 150116–19th century Intact Hotel Built 1593, extended 1600–42 and 19th century.

Brimstage Hall

Brimstage Hall

Brimstage Hall is believed to have been built between the 12th century and 14th century. Originally the site was enclosed by a moat and high embankment. The building's first known occupants were Sir Hugh Hulse and his wife, who were granted the right to construct a chapel in 1398.

Leasowe Castle

Leasowe Castle

Leasowe Castle was built by Ferdinando Stanley, 5th Earl of Derby in 1593. Originally the castle consisted only of an octagonal tower. This had become disused by 1700, and it became known as "Mockbeggar Hall", a term often used for an ornate but derelict building. In 1821 ownership passed to the Cust family, who refurbished and extended the building, using panelling from the demolished Star Chamber at the Palace of Westminster as well as oak from the submerged forest along the coast.


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Baconsthorpe Castle Fortified manor house 140115th century Fragmentary ruins   EH 
Burgh Castle Motte and bailey 110112th century No visible remains   EH  / Norfolk Archaeological Trust Site of medieval motte and bailey castle within surviving walls of the Roman fort of Saxon Shore.
Caister Castle Quadrangular castle 14321432–46 Fragmentary ruins   HC  Moated, built largely of brick by Sir John Fastolf, a relatively intact 90 ft tower remains.
Castle Acre Castle Motte and bailey 100111–12th century Fragmentary remains   EH  Extensive earthworks.
Castle Rising Keep 1138c.1138 Ruins   EH 
Claxton Castle Castle 130114–15th century Fragmentary ruins   Private
Norwich Castle Keep 1095c.1095–1110 Intact   HM  Prison during 18–19th centuries.
Oxburgh Hall Fortified manor house 1482c.1482 Intact   HH  170118th and 19th century additions.
Thetford Castle Motte and bailey 100111th century Earthworks   HC 
Local authority
One of the highest mottes in England, about 80 ft high.

North Yorkshire

There are more than 30 castles in North Yorkshire, reflecting its turbulent history.

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Notes (Key)
Ayton Castle Castle 120113–14th century Fragment   HC 
Local authority
Barden Tower Castle 140115th century Ruins   HC 
Bolton Castle Quadrangular castle 130114th century Ruins   HC  Besieged and slighted during Civil War.
Cawood Castle Quadrangular castle 13741374–88 Fragments   Landmark Trust Largely demolished 1750, gatehouse survives.
Clifford's Tower Keep 120113th century Restored   EH  Reduced in height 1596.
Crayke Castle Tower house 140115th century Restored   Private 170118th and 19th century additions and alterations.
Danby Castle Quadrangular castle 130114th century Fragmentary ruins   Private, farm Partly used as farm buildings.
Gilling Castle Tower house 130114th century Intact St. Martin's Ampleforth School 150116th and 18th century additions and alterations.
Harsley Castle Castle 140115th century Fragmentary remains   Private, farm Partly used as farm buildings.
Hazlewood Castle Castle 120113–18th century Rebuilt   Hotel Altered 18th and 20th centuries, formerly Carmelite retreat centre.
Hellifield Peel Tower house 130114–15th century Restored   Hotel Restored 2005.
Helmsley Castle Castle 110112–13th century Fragmentary ruins   EH  Severely slighted 1645.
Hornby Castle Courtyard castle 130114–15th century Restored   Private Converted to country house by John Carr, 18th century.
Knaresborough Castle Keep and bailey 110112–14th century Fragmentary ruins   HC 
Duchy of Lancaster
Marmion Tower Fortified manor house 140115th century Fragment   EH  Surviving gatehouse of Tanfield Castle.
Middleham Castle Keep and bailey 110112–14th century Ruins   EH 
Mulgrave Castle Enclosure castle 110112–13th century Fragmentary ruins   HC 
Marquess of Normanby
Superseded by 18–19th century castellated mansion also known as Mulgrave Castle.
Nappa Hall Fortified manor house 14591459 Intact   Private Enlarged 17th century. Probably the finest, least-spoilt fortified manor house in the north of England.
Pickering Castle Keep and bailey 110112–14th century Ruins   EH 
Ravensworth Castle Castle 130114th century Fragmentary remains   Private
Richmond Castle Keep and bailey 100111–14th century Ruins   EH  Keep 100 ft high.
Ripley Castle Tower house 140115–16th century Rebuilt   HH  Extended 1783–6 in Gothic Revival style.
Scarborough Castle Keep and bailey 110112–13th century Ruins   EH 
Sheriff Hutton Castle Quadrangular castle 13821382 Fragmentary ruins   Private
Skelton Castle Castellated house 120113–19th century Intact   Private 170118–19th century house incorporates remains of medieval castle.
Skipton Castle Castle 110111–17th century Restored   HH  Partly demolished 1649, rebuilt 1657–8.
Snape Castle Castle 140115–18th century Restored   Private Mostly reconstructed 17th century, partly ruined.
South Cowton Castle Tower house 140115th century Restored   Private Altered 19th century, farmhouse.
Spofforth Castle Fortified manor house 120113–15th century Fragmentary ruins   EH 
Whorlton Castle Castle 130114–16th century Fragmentary ruins   HC  Remains of gatehouse.
Wilton Castle Neo-romantic castle 1810c.1810 Intact   Private apartments By Sir Robert Smirke on site of medieval castle.


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Notes ((Key)
Astwell Castle Fortified manor house 140115th century Fragment   Private, farm Gatehouse survives alongside 17th century house.
Barnwell Castle Rectangular castle 1266c.1266 Ruins   Private
Fotheringhay Castle Keep and bailey 110112th century Earthworks   HC  Scene of trial and execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, 1587.
Rockingham Castle Motte and bailey 120113–19th century Rebuilt   HH  13th century gatehouse survives, largely rebuilt 16th century, remodelled 1660 and by Salvin in 19th century.
Thorpe Waterville Castle Castle 130114th century Fragment Private Great hall with fine open roof survives, altered for use as a barn.<


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Alnham Vicars Pele Pele tower 130114th century Restored   Private
Alnwick Castle Keep and bailey 110112–14th century Restored   HH 
Duke of Northumberland
Remodelled by Robert Adam and Anthony Salvin.
Aydon Castle Fortified manor house 130114th century Intact   EH  Converted to farmhouse 17th century.
Bamburgh Castle Keep and bailey 110112–14th century Restored   HH 
Lord Armstrong
Ruinous by 1704, extensively restored 1894–1904.
Barmoor Castle Tower house 130114–19th century Rebuilt   Private 1919th century mansion incorporating remains of 14th century building.
Beaufront Castle Neo-romantic castle 18361836–1841 Intact   Private residence 1919th century mansion on site of 15th century tower house.
Bellister Castle Castle 120113–14th century Fragmentary remains   Private Ruins adjoining 17th century house.
Belsay Castle Tower house 14391439–60 Intact   EH  Later ruined building attached.
Berwick Castle Castle 110112–13th century Fragmentary remains   EH 
Bitchfield Castle Pele tower 130114th century Restored Private Incorporated in later mansion.
Blenkinsop Castle Tower house 130114th century Ruins   Private Incorporated in 19th century house.
Bothal Castle Castle 130114th century Rebuilt   Private Extensively restored 19th century.
Bywell Castle Castle 140115th century Fragments   Private Gatehouse survives.
Callaly Castle Pele tower 130114–15th century Intact   Private apartments Incorporated in later country house.
Cartington Castle Pele tower and extensions 130114–15th century Fragmentary remains Private
Chillingham Castle Quadrangular castle 13441344 Intact   HH  Altered 17–19th centuries, restored after 1982.
Chipchase Castle Tower house 130114th century Intact   HH  Incorporated in Jacobean house, altered 18–19th centuries.
Cocklaw Tower Tower house 130114–15th century Shell   Private, farm Near Wall.
Cocklepark Tower Tower house 1517c.1517 Substantially intact   Newcastle University
Corbridge Vicar's Pele Pele tower 13181318 Intact   HAL  Re-roofed 1910.
Coupland Castle Tower house 150116–17th century Restored   Private residence Later additions.
Craster Tower Pele tower 130114–15th century Intact Holiday accommodation Incorporated in later building.
Crawley Tower Pele tower 130114th century Ruins   Private A cottage was built within the walls in the 18th century.
Cresswell Castle Pele tower 140115th century Ruin   170118th century parapet.
Dilston Castle Tower house 140115th century Ruins   HC  Altered 16–17th century, later buildings demolished.
Dunstanburgh Castle Keep and bailey 130114th century Fragmentary ruins   EH  Spectacular coastal setting.
Edlingham Castle Keep and bailey 130114th century Fragmentary ruins   EH 
Elsdon Castle Motte and bailey 100111th century Earthworks   Private Well-preserved earthworks.
Elsdon Tower Pele tower 150116th century Intact   Private Altered, rectory until 1960, restored 1990s.
Embleton Tower Pele tower 130114th century Intact   Private 1919th century vicarage attached.
Etal Castle Castle 130114th century Fragmentary ruins   EH 
Featherstone Castle Castle 130114th century Intact   Private 130114th century tower, three further towers added 18–19th century.
Ford Castle Quadrangular castle 130114th century Substantially intact   Private Converted into mansion 17th century.
Haggerston Castle Neo-romantic castle 1893c.1893 Fragment   Caravan site Surviving tower of c.1893, on site of 14th century castle, in what is now a caravan park.
Halton Castle Tower house 120113–14th century Intact   Private residence Attached to later house.
Harbottle Castle Keep and bailey 110112–14th century Fragmentary ruins   HAL 
Northumberland National Park
Captured by Robert Bruce in 1318.
Haughton Castle Tower house 120113–14th centuries Restored   Private Altered 18–19th centuries.
Hexham Moot Hall and Old Gaol Fortified towers 130114–15th century Intact   HM  Probably once connected by bailey wall, AD1415 list of castles has 'Turris de Hexham'.
Horsley Tower Pele tower 150116th century Intact   Private residence
Langley Castle Tower house 1350c.1350 Restored   Hotel Restored 1890s.
Lemmington Hall Tower house 140115th century Restored   Wedding venue Incorporated in later house.
Lindisfarne Castle Artillery fort 150116th century Restored   ENT  Remodelled by Edwin Lutyens 1901.
Mitford Castle Keep and bailey 100111–13th century Fragmentary ruins   HC 
Morpeth Castle Castle 13421342–9 Fragments   Landmark Trust Only gatehouse and a section of wall remain.
Norham Castle Keep and bailey 110112th century Ruins   EH  Keep remodelled 1422–5, partly rebuilt 1513–15.
Preston Tower Pele tower 1401c.1400 Fragment   HC  South wall remains, with two of the original four turrets.
Prior Castell's Tower Tower house 140115–16th century Substantially intact   ENT 
Prudhoe Castle Castle 110112–14th century Ruins   EH 
Shilbottle Tower Pele tower 140115th century Restored   Private Incorporated into a vicarage.
Shortflatt Tower Pele tower 130114–15th century Restored   Wedding venue Incorporated in later house.
Thirlwall Castle Tower house 130114th century Fragmentary ruins   HAL 
Northumberland National Park
Built with stone from Hadrian's Wall.
Twizell Castle Tower house 140115–18th century Fragmentary ruins   HAL  Medieval ruins incorporated in 18th century folly.
Warkworth Castle Keep and bailey 110112–14th century Ruins   EH  Although looked after by English Heritage, partly owned by the Duke of Northumberland.
Whittingham Tower Pele tower 120113–14th century Restored   Private Converted for use as almshouses in 1845.
Whitton Tower Pele tower 1386c.1386 Intact Holiday accommodation Near Rothbury, well-preserved.
Willimoteswick Castle Fortified manor house 150116th century Ruins   Private, farm Incorporates remains of earlier building, largely rebuilt 1900.

Twizell Castle

Twizell Castle stands on a bend of the River Till at Tillmouth Park, Northumberland. Below it, the medieval Twizell bridge spans the river. The gardens of the castle contain the earthwork remains of the once lost medieval village of Twizell, whilst the massive ruin presents the remains of an 18th century castle which was never completed.

A medieval tower house which once stood on the site was, in 1415, held by Sir John Heron. This was destroyed by the Scots in 1496, and the estate was sold by the Herons circa 1520 to a member of the Selby family. A survey in 1561 reported only the remnants of a tower house and a barmkin. Of the medieval structure, blocked windows, a chamfered doorway and the original north-east angle quoins are all that remains visible now.

In 1685 Sir Francis Blake purchased the estate from the widow Selby for £1,944, plus an annuity of £100, and the Blake family lived on the estate until 1738 when they moved to nearby Tillmouth Hall. From about 1770, he worked on the recreation of the castle as a Gothic Revival mansion, designed by architect James Nesbit of Kelso to be five levels tall. Despite some forty years of work, the project was never completed. When in 1882, the Blake's built a new mansion at Tillmouth Park much of the incomplete Twizell Castle was demolished and the stone used in the new construction. The house is now a two-story folly. Rectangular in plan, with circular towers on the angles and two wings on the north side, the basement rooms in the main block are stone and brick-vaulted as a precaution against fire.


There are four castles in Nottinghamshire.

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Greasley Castle Castle 130114th century Fragmentary remains   Private, farm Remains incorporated into farm buildings.
Halloughton Manor House Pele tower 130114th century Intact Private Attached to later building.
Newark Castle Castle 110112–14th century Ruins   HC  / Newark District Council Gatehouse, part of curtain wall and a tower remain.
Nottingham Castle Keep and bailey 110112–13th century Fragmentary remains   HM 
Nottingham City Council
Demolished 1651, later mansion on site, much restored 14th century gatehouse remains.


There are seven castles in Oxfordshire.

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Bampton Castle Quadrangular castle 1315c.1315 Fragment Private Lower part of gatehouse and short stretch of curtain wall survive, incorporated into later house known as Ham Court.
Broughton Castle Fortified manor house 130114–15th century Intact   HH  Remodelled 15–18th centuries.
Hanwell Castle Castellated house 140115–16th century Fragment Private Large surviving tower of unfortified building.
Oxford Castle Motte and bailey 100111–12th century Fragment   Hotel Motte and the unusual, possibly Saxon, St. George's Tower.
Rotherfield Greys Castle Fortified manor house 130114th century Fragment   ENT  Two towers and section of wall survive, close to Greys Court.
Shirburn Castle Quadrangular castle 1378c.1378 Rebuilt   Private Originally stone, largely rebuilt in brick c.1720, remodelled 19th century in Gothick style, 19th century working drawbridge.
Wallingford Castle Motte and bailey 100111–13th century Fragmentary remains   HC  Slighted 1652, impressive earthworks remain.


There is one castle in Rutland.

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Oakham Castle Motte and bailey 110112–13th century Fragment   HC  / Rutland County Council Aisled great hall built 1180–1190 survives, with some remains of curtain walls, probably site of Saxon burh.


There are 17 castles in Shropshire.

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Notes (Key)
Acton Burnell Castle Fortified manor house 120113th century Ruins   EH  Shell, used as a barn in the 18th century.
Alberbury Castle Castle 120113th century Fragmentary remains   HAL 
Bridgnorth Castle Keep and bailey 110112th century Fragmentary remains   HC  Slighted 1645.
Broncroft Castle Fortified manor house 130114th Intact   Private Renovated 19th century.
Cheney Longville Castle Fortified manor house 130114–17th century Part habitable Private Building at risk.
Clun Castle Keep and bailey 120113th century Fragmentary remains   EH  Ruins of keep built onto side of motte.
Hopton Castle Keep and bailey 130114th century Ruins   HC 

Knockin Castle Motte and Bailey Mound remains.

Ludlow Castle Keep and bailey 100111–14th century Ruins   HC 
Earl of Powis
One of the great Welsh border castles.
Moreton Corbet Castle Keep 110112th century Fragmentary remains   EH  Adjoining ruins of 16th century building.
Quatford Castle Neo-romantic castle 1830c.1830 Intact   Private Nearby are earthwork remains of the medieval Quatford Castle.
Red Castle Castle 120113th century Fragmentary remains. HC  Adapted as feature of Hawkstone Park, 18th century landscape garden. Building at risk.
Rowton Castle Sham castle 170118–19th century Intact   Hotel On site of medieval castle, remodelled 1809–12 by George Wyatt.
Shrewsbury Castle Castle 110112th century Rebuilt   HM 
Shropshire Council
Restored and extended 1642, altered c.1790 by Thomas Telford.
Stokesay Castle Fortified manor house 120113–14th century Intact   EH  Restored 19th century.
Wattlesborough Castle Castle 120113–14th century Fragment   Private Near Rowton, keep/tower survives, adjoining Wattlesborough Hall.
Whittington Castle Keep and bailey 110112–13th century Fragments   HC 
Local community
Gatehouse towers survive.


There are 11 castles in Somerset.

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Notes ([../Key/]])
Banwell Castle Neo-romantic castle 1848c.1848 Intact   Restaurant Architect not known.
Beckington Castle 160117th century Rebuilt   Company HQ Medieval remains incorporated in later building.
Dunster Castle Castle 120113–19th century Rebuilt   ENT  Existing house dates largely from c.1571, with 18–19th century alterations.
Farleigh Hungerford Castle Enclosure castle 130114–15th century Ruins   EH  On high ground above the River Frome.
Newton St Loe Castle Fortified manor house 130114th century Fragment   Bath Spa University Large tower and gatehouse, altered 16–17th century.
Nunney Castle Quadrangular castle 13731373 Ruins   EH  Towers originally had conical roofs, north wall collapsed 1910.
Stogursey Castle Motte and bailey 100111–12th century Fragmentary remains   Landmark Trust 160117th century house built within remains of castle.
Sutton Court Fortified manor house 130114–15th century Fragment   Private apartments Short length of embattled wall and a tower survive, incorporated in large house, restored 19th century.
Taunton Castle Shell keep 120113th century Restored   HM  Now houses Somerset County Museum, Castle Hotel incorporates remains of an outer gatehouse.
Walton Castle Sham castle 16151615–20 Restored   Private residence Restored as private house 20th century.
Wells Bishop's Palace Fortified palace 120113–15th century Substantially intact   HH 
Church of England
Adjacent to cathedral, residence of the Bishop of Bath and Wells.

South Yorkshire

There are two castles in South Yorkshire.

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Notes (Key)
Conisbrough Castle Keep and bailey 110112th century Ruins   EH  Cylindrical keep 95 ft high, castle ruinous by time of Civil War and so escaped slighting.
Tickhill Castle Motte and bailey 100111–14th century Fragmentary remains   Private Ruined gatehouse and parts of curtain walls remain.


There are eight castles in Staffordshire.

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Alton Castle Castle 110112–13th century Fragmentary remains   Youth centre Cliff-top position, site partly occupied by 19th century building.
Caverswall Castle Enclosure castle 1275c.1275 Substantially intact Private Moated, 17th century mansion built within walls which, along with towers, do not stand to full height.
Chartley Castle Motte and bailey 100111–13th century Fragmentary remains   Private Altered in 13th century to form enclosure castle, abandoned by 1485.
Eccleshall Castle Castle 130114th century Fragmentary remains Private Remains partly incorporated into house of c.1695, rebuilt 19th century.
Stafford Castle Motte and bailey 100111–12th century Earthworks   HC  / Stafford Borough Council Medieval keep partly rebuilt 19th century, then partly demolished.
Stourton Castle Castle 130114–15th century Fragment   Private Remains incorporated in later buildings.
Tamworth Castle Shell keep 100111–13th century Rebuilt   HC 
Local authority
Largely rebuilt 16–18th centuries.
Tutbury Castle Motte and bailey 110112–15th century Fragmentary ruins   HC  Slighted 1647–8, 19th century folly stands on motte.


There are seven castles in Suffolk.

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Notes (Key)
Bungay Castle Keep and bailey 110112–13th century Fragmentary remains   HC  / Bungay Castle Trust Abandoned c.1365.
Clare Castle Motte and bailey 100111th century Fragmentary remains   HC  Motte 53 ft high.
Eye Castle Motte and bailey 100111th century Fragmentary remains   HC  Motte over 40 ft high.
Framlingham Castle Enclosure castle 110112th century Ruins   EH  Curtain wall with 13 open-backed towers and projecting gatehouse, poor house 17–19th centuries.
Mettingham Castle Fortified manor house 1342c.1342 Fragmentary remains   Private Gatehouse survives.
Orford Castle Keep 11651165–73 Intact   EH  Unique polygonal keep survives.
Wingfield Castle Castle 1385c.1385 Fragment   Private residence South curtain wall, gatehouse and east drawbridge survive, with 16–17th century house.


There are two castles in Surrey.

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Notes (Key)
Farnham Castle Keep and bailey 110112th century Substantially intact EH  Original very tall keep part buried, subsequently demolished and replaced by shell keep, part remodelled 17th century.
Guildford Castle Keep and bailey 110112–13th century Ruins HC 
Local authority
Tower keep survives, roofless since c.17th century.

Farnham Castle

Farnham Castle

Farnham Castle was built in 1138 by Henri de Blois, grandson of William the Conqueror,. The castle was to become the home of the Bishops of Winchester for over 800 years. The original building was demolished by Henry II in 1155 after the Anarchy and then rebuilt in the late 12th and early 13th centuries. The castle was slighted again after the Civil War in 1648. Since then more buildings have been constructed in the castle's grounds, the most impressive being those built by Bishop George Morley in the 17th century.

The architecture reflects changing styles through the ages, making it one of the most important historical buildings in the south of England. It is an impressive stone motte and bailey fortress, which has been in continuous occupation since the 12th century. The large motte was formed around the massive foundations of a Norman tower and then totally enclosed by a shell-keep, with buttress turrets and a shallow gatehouse. Attached to the motte is a triangular inner bailey, with a fine range of domestic buildings and a fifteenth century brick entrance tower. The formidable outer bailey curtain wall has square flanking towers, a 13th century gatehouse and a large ditch.

Guildford Castle

Guildford Castle

Guildford Castle in Surrey is thought to have been built shortly after the Norman Conquest. There is no record of it in the Domesday Book so construction probably started after 1086.

First to be built at the Castle would have been the motte around which was a ditch and a bailey protected by a wooden palisade. If it followed a typical Norman design the bailey would have been divided with a palisade and have been divided into an inner and outer bailey. The inner baily would have encompassed the motte on which a wooden keep would have been built as a look-out post for the soldiers stationed there.

In the late 11th or early 12th century, a wall made of Bargate stone was built around the top of the motte creating a shell keep, and then around the 1130s a keep was added, again made of Bargate stone bonded with hard and durable mortar. The keep may have been built over part of the shell keep an its foundations went down to the chalk bedrock. The general form was quadrangular, its exterior dimensions being 47ft by 45.5ft. The walls are about 10ft thick at the base and taper towards the top.

The keep's entrance was located on the first floor to aid in defence. The ground floor was windowless. On the first floor there was a Great Chamber, a chapel, and wardrobe with latrine. A second floor was added shortly afterwards containing a two-seater latrine. The addition of the second floor made the keep over 70ft high. The roof of the building was made of lead and the inner walls were covered in plaster and then whitewashed.

Tyne and Wear

There are five castles in Tyne and Wear.

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Notes (Key)
Hylton Castle Tower house 1401c.1400 Ruins   EH  Large gatehouse tower, incorporated into 18th century house, since demolished.
Newcastle Castle Keep and bailey 11721172–77 Restored   HC  / Newcastle City Council Keep and gatehouse survive.
Old Hollinside Fortified manor house 120113th century Ruins   On slope overlooking River Derwent.
Ravensworth Castle Quadrangular castle 130114–19th century Ruins   Private Two towers of medieval castle survive, amidst ruins of later building. Building At Risk.
Tynemouth Castle Enclosure castle 120113–14th century Ruins   EH  Built to enclose and protect the priory, modified as artillery castle 16th century in response to threat of Scottish invasion.


There are seven castles in Warwickshire.

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Notes (Key)
Astley Castle Fortified manor house 120113–14th century Ruins   Landmark Trust Altered 15–19th centuries, hotel until fire in 1978, building at risk.
Brinklow Castle Motte and bailey 100111th century Earthworks   Well-preserved earthworks, castle probably abandoned by 1173.
Hartshill Castle Keep and bailey 110112th century Fragmentary remains   Private Some remains of curtain walls survive, and remains of fortified manor house of c.1567.
Kenilworth Castle Keep and bailey 110112–14th century Ruins   EH  Altered 16th century, slighted 1650.
Kingsbury Hall Castle 130114th century Fragmentary remains   Private Remains of curtain wall survive with later house.
Maxstoke Castle Quadrangular castle 130114–15th century Substantially intact   NGS Moated, domestic buildings of 15–19th centuries within curtain walls.
Warwick Castle Castle 120113–15th century Intact   HH  Guy's tower rises 128 ft, 17th century residential block, remodelled 19th century by Salvin after fire.

West Sussex

There are five castles in West Sussex.

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Notes (Key)
Amberley Castle Castle 13771377–82 Partly habitable   Hotel Incorporates earlier manor house dating to 12th century, occupied portions remodelled 16th century and later, working portcullis.
Arundel Castle Keep and bailey 110112–13th century Heavily restored   HH 
Duke of Norfolk
Remodelled 1791–1815 and 1890–1903.
Bramber Castle Keep and bailey 100111–12th century Fragmentary remains   EH  Commanding position, earthworks and fragment of wall remain.
Halnaker House Fortified manor house 120113–14th century Ruins   Private Altered 18th century, fell into ruin 1880s, replaced by later house of same name.
Knepp Castle Motte and bailey 110112–13th century Fragmentary remains   Private Remains of 13th century keep standing on motte. The modern Knepp Castle is a castellated mansion by Nash.

West Midlands

There is one castle of note in the West Midlands.

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Notes (Key)
Dudley Castle Keep and bailey 120113–14th century Ruins HC 
Dudley Zoo
Slighted in 1647, then rebuilt and inhabited until destroyed by fire in 1750, partly restored 19th century.
Dudley Castle

Dudley Castle is a ruined castle in the town of Dudley. The castle stands on an outcrop of Wenlock Group limestone. Local legend states that a wooden castle was constructed on the site in the 8th century by a Saxon lord called Dud or Dado. However this legend is not taken seriously by historians, who usually date the castle from soon after the Norman Conquest of 1066. It is thought one of the Conqueror's followers, Ansculf de Picquigny, built the first castle in 1070 and that his son, William Fitz-Ansculf, was in possession of the castle when it was recorded at the time of the Domesday Book of 1086. Some of the earthworks from this castle, notably the 'motte', the vast mound on which the present castle keep now sits, still remain.

After Fitz-Ansculf, the castle came into the possession of the Paganel family, who built the first stone castle on the site. This castle was strong enough to withstand a siege in 1153 by the forces of King Stephen. However, after Gervase Paganel joined a failed rebellion against King Henry II in 1173 the castle was demolished by order of the king. The Somery's were the next dynasty to own the site and set about building the castle in stone starting in the second half of the 13th century and continuing on into the 14th. The keep (the most obvious part of the castle when viewed from the town) and the main gate dates from this re-building. A chapel and great hall were also constructed.

Starting around 1540, a range of new buildings were erected within the older castle walls. The architect was William Sharington and the buildings are thus usually referred to as Sharrington Range.

The castle became a Royalist stronghold during the English Civil War, and was besieged twice before its surrender to Cromwell's forces in 1646. The first siege in 1644 was lifted after the Royalists sent a relief force which drove away the Parliamentarians. In 1646 Sir William Brereton commanded the Parliamentarians in the second siege against the Royalists led by Colonel Leveson. The castle was surrendered on 13th May 1646. Parliament subsequently ordered that the castle be partly demolished and the present ruined appearance of the keep result from this decision.

A stable block was constructed on the site at some point before 1700. This was the final building to be constructed in the castle. The bulk of the remaining habitable parts of the castle was destroyed by fire in 1750.

West Yorkshire

There are five castles in West Yorkshire.

Image Ownership
/ Access
Notes (Key)
Almondbury Castle Castle 110112th century Earthworks   HAL  Also known as Castle Hill, Huddersfield, castle constructed on site of Iron Age hill fort.
Dobroyd Castle Sham Castle 18661866–9 Intact   Activity centre By John Gibson.
Harewood Castle Tower house 130114th century Ruins Private Shell of tower, substantially intact, within Harewood Park.
Pontefract Castle Enclosure castle 110112–13th century Fragmentary remains   HC 
Local authority
Principal royal castle in northern England, withstood three sieges during Civil War, dismantled after siege of 1649.
Sandal Castle Motte and bailey 110112th century Fragmentary remains   HC  Well-preserved earthworks, excavated site with visitor centre.


There are five castles in Wiltshire.

Image Ownership
/ Access
Notes (Key)
Devizes Castle Neo-romantic castle 1919th century Intact   Private apartments Present building begun 1842 on site of important medieval castle.
Longford Castle Sham castle 15911591 Intact   Earl of Radnor Remodelled 18th century.
Ludgershall Castle Ringwork 100111–13th century Fragmentary remains   EH  Remains of a tower and extensive earthworks.
Old Sarum Castle Motte and bailey 100111–13th century Fragmentary remains   EH  On site of Iron Age hill fort.
Old Wardour Castle Castle 1393c.1393 Ruins   EH  Remodelled 16–17th centuries, superseded by Palladian building known as New Wardour Castle.


There are four castles of note in Worcestershire.

/ Access
Notes (Key)
Caldwall Castle Fortified manor house 140115–16th century Fragment Private residence Single surviving tower, in Kidderminster.
Hartlebury Castle Fortified manor house 140115th century Rebuilt HM 
Church of England
140115th century remains incorporated in later buildings, residence of Bishop of Worcester until 2007, houses Worcestershire County Museum.
Holt Castle Castle 130114–19th century Intact Wedding venue Medieval tower incorporated in later buildings.
Worcester Castle Castle 120113–14th century Fragment Church of England Edgar Tower, now entrance to College Green, probable surviving gatehouse of the castle.

Caldwall Castle


Caldwell Tower stands on a mound, and is a small, free-standing tower of probable 16th century origin. Square on plan, of good coursed rubble, it contains three stories beneath the parapet. This is carried on two courses of individual corbels. The crenellations seem to have been renewed.

The door at ground floor level is in the west wall and admits to a vaulted basement, which does not communicate with the upper stories. The first floor, also vaulted, is reached via a modern forestair. The flooring above has been altered. The windows are small, and there are signs of built-up gun-loops in the walling. The fabric throughout is in fair condition. This tower is thought to have been part of the courtyard-type Caldwell Castle. Rubble, possibly from demolished ancillary buildings has been noted at the site.

Ainslie's map of 1775 indicates a 'pigeon house' or 'doocot' at the position of the tower, indicating a later use of this castle remnant. Some indications of the tower being a focal point of the pleasure gardens, linked to a belvedere have been suggested. The 1832 map of Renfrewshire by John Thomson shows the tower clearly and marks it as 'Bacon H.' suggesting that it was then in use as a pigsty or such-like.

Hartlebury Castle


Hartlebury Castle was built in the mid-13th century as a fortified manor house on land given to the Bishop of Worcester by King Burgred of Mercia. From the early 13th century until 2007, Hartlebury Castle was the residence of the bishop of Worcester.

Bishop Walter de Cantilupe, a supporter of Simon de Montfort, began to fortify the Castle, which was embattled and finished by his successor, Godfrey Giffard, 1268. The gate-house was added in the reign of Henry VI by Bishop Carpenter.

In 1646 during the Civil War Hartlebury Castle was strongly fortified and held for King Charles I by Captain Sandys and Lord Windsor, with 120 foot soldiers and 20 horse, and had provisions for twelve months. When summoned by Colonel Morgan for the Parliament, it surrendered in two days without firing a shot. The Castle was slighted and the Parliamentary Commissioners seized the Castle and manor, and sold them to Thomas Westrowe for £3133 6s. 8d. At the Restoration they were given back to the Bishop of Worcester.

Holt Castle


Work began on Holt Castle in the 13th century during the Welsh Wars. The castle was sited on the Welsh-English border by the banks of the River Dee.

In the medieval period, the five-towered fortress was actually known as Castrum Leonis or Castle Lyons because it had a Lion motif carved into the stonework above its main gate. In the 17th century, almost all the stonework was removed from the site; only the base of the sandstone foundation remain.

The castle was built from local sandstone on top of a 12m high promontory. It was shaped like a pentagon with towers at each corner. The castle had a stepped ramp up to a main gateway, barbican, inner ward, postern and curtain walls. There was also a water-filled moat that was fed from the River Dee. The design of the castle featured towers that were built against the face of the rock outside the curtain wall, similar to the inner wards at Ruthin Castle and at Conwy Castle.

Holt castle was started by Edward I on a sandstone base next to the River Dee soon after the invasion of North Wales in 1277. In 1282 Edward I presented the Welsh lands in which Holt was situated to loyal lord John de Warrene, who was also given the task of completing the castle. By 1311 the castle had been finished and a planned town laid out next to it for the use by English settlers.

A century later, Welsh forces burned down the town in 1400 during the uprising of Owain Glyndŵr; although the castle was not taken. By the 16th century Holt Castle had fallen disuse and ruin.

In 1643, during the English Civil War Holt was garrisoned by Royalists troops. Three years later, after holding out for a year during a second siege, Holt became the last castle to be captured by Parliamentarian forces in north-east Wales. Holt Castle was slighted in 1650 to stop it being used as a fortification by any royalist supporters.

Worcester Castle


Worcester Castle was a Norman fortification built between 1068 and 1069 in Worcester, England by Urse d'Abetot on behalf of William the Conqueror. The castle had a motte-and-bailey design and was located on the south side of the old Anglo-Saxon city, cutting into the grounds of Worcester Cathedral. Royal castles were owned by the king and maintained on his behalf by an appointed constable. At Worcester that role was passed down through the local Beauchamp family on a hereditary basis, giving them permanent control of the castle and considerable power within the city. The castle played an important part in the wars of the 12th and early 13th century, including the Anarchy and the First Barons' War.

In 1217, Henry III's government decided to break the power of the Beauchamps and reduce the ongoing military threat posed by the castle by returning much of the castle's bailey to the cathedral. Without an intact bailey the castle was no longer valuable militarily, although it played a small part in the Second Barons' War in the 1260s. A gaol had been built in the castle by the early 13th century and the castle continued to be used as Worcestershire's county gaol until the 19th century, when a new prison was built on the north side of Worcester and the old site completely redeveloped. Today nothing remains of Worcester Castle with the exception of Edgar's Tower, a cathedral gatehouse built on the former entrance to the castle.

Appendix: Time Line

This chapter shows the time line of castle design against historical events.

Castles of England/Later History of CastlesCastles of England/Tudor CastlesCastles of England/Baronial War CastlesCastles of England/Civil War CastlesCastles of England/Norman Castles

Appendix: Glossary



Arrow loop
A vertical slit for a bowman to fire through. Sometimes the loop would be more in the shape of a cross for use by crossbows.
The area enclosed by the outer wall of the castle.
A siege engine. It was in the shape of a giant crossbow, usually firing iron bolts.
A structure built around the gateway to increase its defences.
A sloped section at the bottom of a wall.
The parapet along the top of a wall with spaced openings.
A wooden platform projecting from the top of a wall. Often temporary, it allowed defenders to drop objects on attackers close to the wall.
Derived from "butt". A place where casks of various drinks were stored. The butler was responsible for the buttery.
The officer in charge of the castle.
The principal room or suite set aside for the use of the castle owner.
The officer in charge of the chamber, where the treasure of the castle was stored.
The officer commanding the castle when the Lord or master of the castle was absent.
Counter mine (or countermine)
A mine sunk by defenders to try and intercept a mine being dug by the attackers. A notable example still exists at St. Andrew's Castle in Fife, Scotland.

Another name for battlement.


Another name for the keep or great tower
A bridge that can be raised to cover the gateway.
A place in the castle for hold prisoners - not necessarily underground. It was often in the keep. The name derives from donjon, another name for the keep.
Feudal system
A system of government where the owner of land (usually ultimately the monarch) "leases" the land to a vassal in return for service, usually military.
An building designed to protect the entrance to the keep.


The medieval name for toilet.
Great tower
Another name for keep or donjon
Gun loop
A hole in the wall, similar to an arrow loop, that allowed guns to be fired while providing some protection to the firer.
The main room in a castle. Used for eating, sleeping and conducting the business of the castle.
Another name for brattice.


A large, usually rectangular, tower. It was the strongest point of the castle and contained the great hall and the owner's living quarters.


A siege engine. It had a cup at one end that was filled with stones. The arm was held under tension - when released it would sling the contents of the cup upwards and forwards.
A ditch around the walls of the castle. Sometimes, but not always, filled with water.
A mound of earth on which the castle tower stood.
Murder hole
A hole in the ceiling. Could have been used either for engaging attackers in the passage below or for tipping water onto fires started in front of the castle gates and doors.


A metal gate in the form of a grid. It could be dropped across a passageway or next to a door to protect it from attack.
A small gate at the back or side of a castle. Used as a back entrance or to escape the castle.
Putlog holes
Small holes that were intended to hold one end of a log or square cross-section wooden beam in the castle wall. These were used either to support temporary scaffolding during construction or hoardings.


Siege tower
A platform supported by a tower, pushed up against the wall of a castle to allow attackers to climb over the walls.
To deliberate destroy parts of a castle.
An armoured shelter to protect attackers while working at the base of a castle wall.
The official responsible for running the castle estate.
A siege engine. Similar but more powerful than the mangonel.
A method of bringing down the walls of a castle. A tunnel would be dug beneath the wall, propped with timber, then set alight to collapse the wall into the tunnel.


Another name for bailey

Appendix: References

This chapter provides a list of references, further reading as well as links to useful additional resources.


Further Reading

Many of the castles discussed in this book are owned or managed by English Heritage. Its website provides a brief overview of the castles and information on visiting:

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1. Definitions

  1. "Adaptation" means a work based upon the Work, or upon the Work and other pre-existing works, such as a translation, adaptation, derivative work, arrangement of music or other alterations of a literary or artistic work, or phonogram or performance and includes cinematographic adaptations or any other form in which the Work may be recast, transformed, or adapted including in any form recognizably derived from the original, except that a work that constitutes a Collection will not be considered an Adaptation for the purpose of this License. For the avoidance of doubt, where the Work is a musical work, performance or phonogram, the synchronization of the Work in timed-relation with a moving image ("synching") will be considered an Adaptation for the purpose of this License.
  2. "Collection" means a collection of literary or artistic works, such as encyclopedias and anthologies, or performances, phonograms or broadcasts, or other works or subject matter other than works listed in Section 1(f) below, which, by reason of the selection and arrangement of their contents, constitute intellectual creations, in which the Work is included in its entirety in unmodified form along with one or more other contributions, each constituting separate and independent works in themselves, which together are assembled into a collective whole. A work that constitutes a Collection will not be considered an Adaptation (as defined below) for the purposes of this License.
  3. "Creative Commons Compatible License" means a license that is listed at that has been approved by Creative Commons as being essentially equivalent to this License, including, at a minimum, because that license: (i) contains terms that have the same purpose, meaning and effect as the License Elements of this License; and, (ii) explicitly permits the relicensing of adaptations of works made available under that license under this License or a Creative Commons jurisdiction license with the same License Elements as this License.
  4. "Distribute" means to make available to the public the original and copies of the Work or Adaptation, as appropriate, through sale or other transfer of ownership.
  5. "License Elements" means the following high-level license attributes as selected by Licensor and indicated in the title of this License: Attribution, ShareAlike.
  6. "Licensor" means the individual, individuals, entity or entities that offer(s) the Work under the terms of this License.
  7. "Original Author" means, in the case of a literary or artistic work, the individual, individuals, entity or entities who created the Work or if no individual or entity can be identified, the publisher; and in addition (i) in the case of a performance the actors, singers, musicians, dancers, and other persons who act, sing, deliver, declaim, play in, interpret or otherwise perform literary or artistic works or expressions of folklore; (ii) in the case of a phonogram the producer being the person or legal entity who first fixes the sounds of a performance or other sounds; and, (iii) in the case of broadcasts, the organization that transmits the broadcast.
  8. "Work" means the literary and/or artistic work offered under the terms of this License including without limitation any production in the literary, scientific and artistic domain, whatever may be the mode or form of its expression including digital form, such as a book, pamphlet and other writing; a lecture, address, sermon or other work of the same nature; a dramatic or dramatico-musical work; a choreographic work or entertainment in dumb show; a musical composition with or without words; a cinematographic work to which are assimilated works expressed by a process analogous to cinematography; a work of drawing, painting, architecture, sculpture, engraving or lithography; a photographic work to which are assimilated works expressed by a process analogous to photography; a work of applied art; an illustration, map, plan, sketch or three-dimensional work relative to geography, topography, architecture or science; a performance; a broadcast; a phonogram; a compilation of data to the extent it is protected as a copyrightable work; or a work performed by a variety or circus performer to the extent it is not otherwise considered a literary or artistic work.
  9. "You" means an individual or entity exercising rights under this License who has not previously violated the terms of this License with respect to the Work, or who has received express permission from the Licensor to exercise rights under this License despite a previous violation.
  10. "Publicly Perform" means to perform public recitations of the Work and to communicate to the public those public recitations, by any means or process, including by wire or wireless means or public digital performances; to make available to the public Works in such a way that members of the public may access these Works from a place and at a place individually chosen by them; to perform the Work to the public by any means or process and the communication to the public of the performances of the Work, including by public digital performance; to broadcast and rebroadcast the Work by any means including signs, sounds or images.
  11. "Reproduce" means to make copies of the Work by any means including without limitation by sound or visual recordings and the right of fixation and reproducing fixations of the Work, including storage of a protected performance or phonogram in digital form or other electronic medium.

2. Fair Dealing Rights

Nothing in this License is intended to reduce, limit, or restrict any uses free from copyright or rights arising from limitations or exceptions that are provided for in connection with the copyright protection under copyright law or other applicable laws.

3. License Grant

Subject to the terms and conditions of this License, Licensor hereby grants You a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, perpetual (for the duration of the applicable copyright) license to exercise the rights in the Work as stated below:

  1. to Reproduce the Work, to incorporate the Work into one or more Collections, and to Reproduce the Work as incorporated in the Collections;
  2. to create and Reproduce Adaptations provided that any such Adaptation, including any translation in any medium, takes reasonable steps to clearly label, demarcate or otherwise identify that changes were made to the original Work. For example, a translation could be marked "The original work was translated from English to Spanish," or a modification could indicate "The original work has been modified.";
  3. to Distribute and Publicly Perform the Work including as incorporated in Collections; and,
  4. to Distribute and Publicly Perform Adaptations.
  5. For the avoidance of doubt:
    1. Non-waivable Compulsory License Schemes. In those jurisdictions in which the right to collect royalties through any statutory or compulsory licensing scheme cannot be waived, the Licensor reserves the exclusive right to collect such royalties for any exercise by You of the rights granted under this License;
    2. Waivable Compulsory License Schemes. In those jurisdictions in which the right to collect royalties through any statutory or compulsory licensing scheme can be waived, the Licensor waives the exclusive right to collect such royalties for any exercise by You of the rights granted under this License; and,
    3. Voluntary License Schemes. The Licensor waives the right to collect royalties, whether individually or, in the event that the Licensor is a member of a collecting society that administers voluntary licensing schemes, via that society, from any exercise by You of the rights granted under this License.

The above rights may be exercised in all media and formats whether now known or hereafter devised. The above rights include the right to make such modifications as are technically necessary to exercise the rights in other media and formats. Subject to Section 8(f), all rights not expressly granted by Licensor are hereby reserved.

4. Restrictions

The license granted in Section 3 above is expressly made subject to and limited by the following restrictions:

  1. You may Distribute or Publicly Perform the Work only under the terms of this License. You must include a copy of, or the Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) for, this License with every copy of the Work You Distribute or Publicly Perform. You may not offer or impose any terms on the Work that restrict the terms of this License or the ability of the recipient of the Work to exercise the rights granted to that recipient under the terms of the License. You may not sublicense the Work. You must keep intact all notices that refer to this License and to the disclaimer of warranties with every copy of the Work You Distribute or Publicly Perform. When You Distribute or Publicly Perform the Work, You may not impose any effective technological measures on the Work that restrict the ability of a recipient of the Work from You to exercise the rights granted to that recipient under the terms of the License. This Section 4(a) applies to the Work as incorporated in a Collection, but this does not require the Collection apart from the Work itself to be made subject to the terms of this License. If You create a Collection, upon notice from any Licensor You must, to the extent practicable, remove from the Collection any credit as required by Section 4(c), as requested. If You create an Adaptation, upon notice from any Licensor You must, to the extent practicable, remove from the Adaptation any credit as required by Section 4(c), as requested.
  2. You may Distribute or Publicly Perform an Adaptation only under the terms of: (i) this License; (ii) a later version of this License with the same License Elements as this License; (iii) a Creative Commons jurisdiction license (either this or a later license version) that contains the same License Elements as this License (e.g., Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 US)); (iv) a Creative Commons Compatible License. If you license the Adaptation under one of the licenses mentioned in (iv), you must comply with the terms of that license. If you license the Adaptation under the terms of any of the licenses mentioned in (i), (ii) or (iii) (the "Applicable License"), you must comply with the terms of the Applicable License generally and the following provisions: (I) You must include a copy of, or the URI for, the Applicable License with every copy of each Adaptation You Distribute or Publicly Perform; (II) You may not offer or impose any terms on the Adaptation that restrict the terms of the Applicable License or the ability of the recipient of the Adaptation to exercise the rights granted to that recipient under the terms of the Applicable License; (III) You must keep intact all notices that refer to the Applicable License and to the disclaimer of warranties with every copy of the Work as included in the Adaptation You Distribute or Publicly Perform; (IV) when You Distribute or Publicly Perform the Adaptation, You may not impose any effective technological measures on the Adaptation that restrict the ability of a recipient of the Adaptation from You to exercise the rights granted to that recipient under the terms of the Applicable License. This Section 4(b) applies to the Adaptation as incorporated in a Collection, but this does not require the Collection apart from the Adaptation itself to be made subject to the terms of the Applicable License.
  3. If You Distribute, or Publicly Perform the Work or any Adaptations or Collections, You must, unless a request has been made pursuant to Section 4(a), keep intact all copyright notices for the Work and provide, reasonable to the medium or means You are utilizing: (i) the name of the Original Author (or pseudonym, if applicable) if supplied, and/or if the Original Author and/or Licensor designate another party or parties (e.g., a sponsor institute, publishing entity, journal) for attribution ("Attribution Parties") in Licensor's copyright notice, terms of service or by other reasonable means, the name of such party or parties; (ii) the title of the Work if supplied; (iii) to the extent reasonably practicable, the URI, if any, that Licensor specifies to be associated with the Work, unless such URI does not refer to the copyright notice or licensing information for the Work; and (iv) , consistent with Section 3(b), in the case of an Adaptation, a credit identifying the use of the Work in the Adaptation (e.g., "French translation of the Work by Original Author," or "Screenplay based on original Work by Original Author"). The credit required by this Section 4(c) may be implemented in any reasonable manner; provided, however, that in the case of a Adaptation or Collection, at a minimum such credit will appear, if a credit for all contributing authors of the Adaptation or Collection appears, then as part of these credits and in a manner at least as prominent as the credits for the other contributing authors. For the avoidance of doubt, You may only use the credit required by this Section for the purpose of attribution in the manner set out above and, by exercising Your rights under this License, You may not implicitly or explicitly assert or imply any connection with, sponsorship or endorsement by the Original Author, Licensor and/or Attribution Parties, as appropriate, of You or Your use of the Work, without the separate, express prior written permission of the Original Author, Licensor and/or Attribution Parties.
  4. Except as otherwise agreed in writing by the Licensor or as may be otherwise permitted by applicable law, if You Reproduce, Distribute or Publicly Perform the Work either by itself or as part of any Adaptations or Collections, You must not distort, mutilate, modify or take other derogatory action in relation to the Work which would be prejudicial to the Original Author's honor or reputation. Licensor agrees that in those jurisdictions (e.g. Japan), in which any exercise of the right granted in Section 3(b) of this License (the right to make Adaptations) would be deemed to be a distortion, mutilation, modification or other derogatory action prejudicial to the Original Author's honor and reputation, the Licensor will waive or not assert, as appropriate, this Section, to the fullest extent permitted by the applicable national law, to enable You to reasonably exercise Your right under Section 3(b) of this License (right to make Adaptations) but not otherwise.

5. Representations, Warranties and Disclaimer


6. Limitation on Liability


7. Termination

  1. This License and the rights granted hereunder will terminate automatically upon any breach by You of the terms of this License. Individuals or entities who have received Adaptations or Collections from You under this License, however, will not have their licenses terminated provided such individuals or entities remain in full compliance with those licenses. Sections 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, and 8 will survive any termination of this License.
  2. Subject to the above terms and conditions, the license granted here is perpetual (for the duration of the applicable copyright in the Work). Notwithstanding the above, Licensor reserves the right to release the Work under different license terms or to stop distributing the Work at any time; provided, however that any such election will not serve to withdraw this License (or any other license that has been, or is required to be, granted under the terms of this License), and this License will continue in full force and effect unless terminated as stated above.

8. Miscellaneous

  1. Each time You Distribute or Publicly Perform the Work or a Collection, the Licensor offers to the recipient a license to the Work on the same terms and conditions as the license granted to You under this License.
  2. Each time You Distribute or Publicly Perform an Adaptation, Licensor offers to the recipient a license to the original Work on the same terms and conditions as the license granted to You under this License.
  3. If any provision of this License is invalid or unenforceable under applicable law, it shall not affect the validity or enforceability of the remainder of the terms of this License, and without further action by the parties to this agreement, such provision shall be reformed to the minimum extent necessary to make such provision valid and enforceable.
  4. No term or provision of this License shall be deemed waived and no breach consented to unless such waiver or consent shall be in writing and signed by the party to be charged with such waiver or consent.
  5. This License constitutes the entire agreement between the parties with respect to the Work licensed here. There are no understandings, agreements or representations with respect to the Work not specified here. Licensor shall not be bound by any additional provisions that may appear in any communication from You. This License may not be modified without the mutual written agreement of the Licensor and You.
  6. The rights granted under, and the subject matter referenced, in this License were drafted utilizing the terminology of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (as amended on September 28, 1979), the Rome Convention of 1961, the WIPO Copyright Treaty of 1996, the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty of 1996 and the Universal Copyright Convention (as revised on July 24, 1971). These rights and subject matter take effect in the relevant jurisdiction in which the License terms are sought to be enforced according to the corresponding provisions of the implementation of those treaty provisions in the applicable national law. If the standard suite of rights granted under applicable copyright law includes additional rights not granted under this License, such additional rights are deemed to be included in the License; this License is not intended to restrict the license of any rights under applicable law.