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Gisborough Castle and Priors House

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Giseburghe; Guisborough; Wars Field; Fair Field

In the civil parish of Guisborough.
In the historic county of Yorkshire.
Modern Authority of Redcar & Cleveland.
1974 county of Cleveland.
Medieval County of Yorkshire North Riding.

OS Map Grid Reference: NZ616163
Latitude 54.53821° Longitude -1.04730°

Gisborough Castle and Priors House has been described as a Timber Castle although is doubtful that it was such, and also as a probable Fortified Manor House.

There are no visible remains.

Description

King writes Guisborough is persistantly credited with a castle on no evidence at all. L'Anson gave some tenurial evidence for an early C11 castle here but with no trace of remains. This is identified by Mackenzie (referencing Ord) as standing "in a field near the lane leading from Church Street to Redcar, called War's Field, and can still he traced by the moat in this and in the adjoining field, having well elevated ridges and uneven surfaces, the whole occupying several acres of ground."

Priors house granted licence to crenellate in 1344. Jackson writes house - may have stood in a field known as "Wars Field" situated "close to the lane going from Church Street to Redcar". Together with an adjoining field, Wars Field contained "Part of a moat - with elevated ridges and uneven surfaces, occupying several acres.

A Royal licence to crenellate was granted in 1344 July 1 (Click on the date for details of this licence.).

Comments

What were the earthworks in War's Field? An early castle, a fortified manor house or a fortified manor house on the site of an earlier castle. The prior had lodgings in the Priory itself but that does not exclude a more private house, and a guest house complex for high status visitors, for this powerful landowner and magnate. The wording of the licence to the prior and convent to crenellate their 'mansum' might suggest something other than the priory and its conventual buildings, although other LC to abbey's do use the term (ie Selby) in a manner which suggests guest house. It should also be noted that the Priory was sold, after the Reformation, to Sir Thomas Chaloner. The Chaloner's original house was south-west of the priory, not the War Fields location. Generally speaking such post-Reformation houses tend to use the priors domestic quarters.
If there was an early castle at Guisborough, and the tenurial history given in the VCH does not give much support to such a suggestion, then it and its castellry were given up when the priory was founded c. 1119. However land at Guisborough was given to the priory of Durham just before the Conquest but they held no land in 1086 which might suggest their land was seized by some Norman lord who may have built a small castle to secure that land before eventually it was returned to the church.
The actual location of War Fields is a little unclear but the given description and the early OS maps suggest the site now occupied by Prior Pursglove College.
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 11/04/2017 16:08:05

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