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Myddle Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Middle; Medle

In the civil parish of Myddle And Broughton.
In the historic county of Shropshire.
Modern Authority of Shropshire.
1974 county of Shropshire.
Medieval County of Shropshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SJ46902357
Latitude 52.80702° Longitude -2.78952°

Myddle Castle has been described as a probable Masonry Castle, and also as a certain Fortified Manor House.

There are masonry footings remains.

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

Description

Myddle Castle is the only quadrangular castle in Shropshire, and despite its alteration with the construction of modern farm buildings it survives as a significant example of this class of monument. The upstanding and buried remains of the castle buildings, together with historical illustrations, documented accounts of the castle and the records of the archaeological investigation, provide important information contributing to the architectural study of medieval manorial residences. The artefactual and organic remains surviving on the moated island and within the surviving arms of the moat will provide valuable evidence about the various and changing nature of the activities carried out on the site. The archaeological excavation has helped to demonstrate the nature and extent of the structural remains and associated deposits. Organic remains surviving in the buried ground surface under the raised interior and in the moat will also provide information about the changes to the local environment and use of the land before and after the castle was constructed. The importance of the site is further enhanced by the documentary sources which provide ownership information.
The monument includes the earthwork, buried and standing structural remains of Myddle Castle, a quadrangular castle surrounded by a moat. The castle walls, including the stair turret, are Listed Grade II. The castle is considered to be the centre of the manor of Myddle. By 1165 the manor was acquired by the Lords le Strange of Knockin. As a Marcher Lordship, the Lord of Myddle was granted a royal licence to crenellate his mansion in 1308. In the late 15th century the manor passed from the le Stranges to the Stanley family, the Earls of Derby, and in the final decade of the 16th century the Castle was sold to the Egerton family. Many of the lords, especially the later ones, were non-resident and the castle was occupied by a constable or castle-keeper. It functioned as the Court House and the head farm of the demense - the land under the direct control of the lord of the manor. John Leland visited the castle in about 1540 and described it as 'veri ruinous'. An earthquake in 1688 is said to have led to a partial collapse of the structure. Myddle Castle was constructed on a gentle east to north east facing slope, in an area of undulating land. Little now survives of the moat as a visible feature, but the earliest large scale Ordnance Survey map (published in 1881) shows that all the arms contained water and were between 8m and 14m wide. The moat defines a rectangular island approximately 42m east- west and 48m north-south (maximum dimensions), with a later entrance causeway across the northern part of the western arm. Material excavated from the moat was used to raise the surface of the island up to 1.8m above the level of the surrounding land. All the moat arms have been subsequently drained and infilled. The southern and western arms survive as buried features and are included in the scheduling. The opposing arms have been affected by the insertion of a late 20th century farm building, walls and a yard surface, and hence are not included in the scheduling. In his account of Myddle produced at the beginning of the 18th century, Richard Gough describes the castle as a series of 'rooms' set round a courtyard with a gatehouse at the north eastern corner of the site. He notes a possible kitchen range on the eastern side, a parlour on the southern side and a hall on the western side. The early Ordnance Survey map (published in 1881) also provides some evidence of the castle's building plan. Two extant retaining walls are set at right angles along the southern and eastern sides of the island, together with the remains of a stair turret opposite the moat causeway. The extant walling is shown joining the foundations of other walls. This map indicates that the size of the castle building, excluding any ancillary structures, was about 32m east-west and 42m north-south. A small scale archaeological excavation undertaken in 1966 confirmed the extent of the castle structure and concluded that the principal living quarters lay on the western and northern sides of the island. These ranges, together with the stair turret, are shown in ruins in 18th and 19th century illustrations. The upper battlemented portion of the turret collapsed in 1976. All the visible castle walls are built of dressed blocks and neatly coursed. Red and white sandstone has been used which probably came from the quarries at Grinshill, 5km to the east. The stair turret stands as the most prominent feature on the site and was restored in 1849 and 1982. The moulded trefoil- headed doorway with panelled spandrels provided direct access to the stone newel stair, the first few steps of which survive. To the south of the stair turret the remains of a large rectangular window opening at first floor level confirm the existence of a hall on this side of the castle. A large sandstone block inscribed with the le Strange crest has been placed next to the remains of the stair turret. (Scheduling Report)

Castle, now ruined. Circa 1307 for Lord Lestrange of Knockin. Dressed red sandstone with rubblestone core and red and grey sandstone ashlar dressings. All that remains is the former north-east corner with the remains of a corner stair turret and two sides of the inner retaining wall of the rectangular moat. There is a small rectangular window in the remains of the northern wall and the jamb of a probable large chamfered cross window with glazing-bar holes in the remains of the eastern wall, possibly the indication of a former first floor hall (cf. Acton Burnell). A moulded trefoil-headed doorway with panelled spandrels leads to the remains of the stair turret which still retains the first few steps of a stone newel stair. There are other chamfered reveals and set backs in the remains of the stair turret to the north. There is a stone inscribed "Repaired by the Rt./Honble John Hume Egerton/ VISCOUNT ALFORD/OCTr.1849/(Henry?) Sheraton Steward." There is a block of dressed grey sandstone on the ground to the east of the remains with a carved shield. Moat retaining wall. Dressed red sandstone with some rubblestone. L-plan. Approximately 46m long and 1.5m high forming the inner retaining wall of the section of the rectangular moat to the east of the remains of Myddle Castle and half of that to the south. The section of wall to the south incorporates various fragments of dressed and carved stone probably from the castle buildings including a block of chamfered stone and what looks like part of a window or door head. Late C20 farmbuildings and a yard with a concrete block wall have been built over the moat up against the eastern section of retaining wall. Lord Lestrange (John le Srange) was given a licence to crenellate in 1307. The Castle probably ceased to be occupied c.1500 as it was described as "veri ruinus" by John Leland when he visited Myddle c.1540. Old photographs (Hey) show the tower standing higher than at present (January 1986) but a former ashlar circular or octagonal battlemented top stage and a part to the north collapsed in 1976. It has been suggested that some of this (particularly the top stage) was a romantic embellishment added during the repair work of 1849. (Listed Building Report)

A Royal licence to crenellate was granted in 1308 April 1 (Click on the date for details of this licence.).

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Sources of information, references and further reading
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Suggestions for finding online and/or hard copies of bibliographical sources can be seen at this link.
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This record last updated before 1 February 2016

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