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Spofforth Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Spofford

In the civil parish of Spofforth With Stockeld.
In the historic county of Yorkshire.
Modern Authority of North Yorkshire.
1974 county of North Yorkshire.
Medieval County of Yorkshire West Riding.

OS Map Grid Reference: SE36035110
Latitude 53.95475° Longitude -1.45242°

Spofforth Castle has been described as a certain Fortified Manor House.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 2* listed building protected by law*.

Description

Spofforth Castle's importance lies in the good survival of standing remains and extensive archaeological deposits, and in its connections with one of the most important noble families in medieval England, the Percys. Spofforth Castle is located on a low hill to the west of Spofforth village. The monument includes the ruins of the west range of the 13th century manor house and the buried remains of other buildings, including those of an earlier 11th century residence. The extant west range is of two storeys, the oldest part being the undercroft which is early 13th century. Above this is the great hall and the private rooms of the lord and his family, built and modified in the 14th and 15th centuries after licence to crenellate was granted to Henry Percy in 1309. The plan of the west range is a parallelogram with an extension at the north-east corner and a polygonal stair turret and spire at the north-west. The back of the building is set against rock so that the rear entrance leads directly into the upper floor containing the hall and private rooms. The undercroft consists of three rooms, later subdivided into four, with the kitchen occupying the north-west corner room and containing two large fireplaces. Fragments of other buildings indicate that the standing remains formed one side of a quadrangle stretching to the east. Earthworks in the field to the east, and cropmarks showing up on aerial photographs, show the location of its foundations. Underlying the deposits of the later medieval house are those of the Norman foundation. The first house on the site was built some time after 1067 by William de Percy, a favourite of William the Conqueror. The Percys were an important and influential family, and William's gift to the family numbered eighty-six lordships in Yorkshire, of which Spofforth was one. It remained the principal seat of the Percys until the 14th century, when Henry Percy bought the manor of Alnwick. As his family increased in power and influence in the north-east, so the residence at Spofforth lost favour and fell into disrepair. During the Wars of the Roses, after the Battle of Towton in 1462, it was fired by Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, and remained neglected until restored in 1559. Records suggest that it was last inhabited in 1604 and it was slighted some years later during the Civil War. The monument is now in State care and is a Grade II-star Listed Building. (Scheduling Report)

Ruins of fortified house. C13 with major rebuilding in C14 and C15. Coursed sandstone and ashlar. 2 storeys on north side, single storey on south - built against rock outcrop. 6 bays. First-floor hall with solar above undercroft and kitchens. Stair turret at north-west corner. Entrance to undercroft at north end of west side; rock-cut steps down to undercroft from centre of east side. Windows include trefoil-pointed arched windows and some with plate tracery. Chamfered plinth, continuous dripmould at first-floor level. Buttresses with offsets, pointed stone roof with finial to stair turret. Interior of undercroft has bases of octagonal piers and rock-cut doorway. (Listed Building Report)

A Royal licence to crenellate was granted in 1308 Oct 4 (Click on the date for details of this licence.).

Comments

The embankment of the, now disused, railway SW of the castle has totally disrupted the medieval landscape and, in particular, the relationship of the castle with the deer park.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape   County HER   Scheduling   Listing   I. O. E.
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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The author and compiler of Gatehouse does not receive any income from the site and funds it himself. The information within this site is provided freely for educational purposes only.
The bibliography owes much to various bibliographies produced by John Kenyon for the Council for British Archaeology, the Castle Studies Group and others.
Suggestions for finding online and/or hard copies of bibliographical sources can be seen at this link.
Minor archaeological investigations, such as watching brief reports, and some other 'grey' literature is most likely to be held by H.E.R.s but is often poorly referenced and is unlikely to be recorded here, or elsewhere, but some suggestions can be found here.
The possible site or monument is represented on maps as a point location. This is a guide only. It should be noted that OS grid references defines an area, not a point location. In practice this means the actual center of the site or monument may often, but not always, be to the North East of the point shown. Locations derived from OS grid references and from latitude longitiude may differ by a small distance.
Further information on mapping and location can be seen at this link.
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Help is acknowledged.
*The listed building may not be the actual medieval building, but a building on the site of, or incorporating fragments of, the described site.
This record last updated before 1 February 2016

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