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The comprehensive gazetteer and bibliography of the medieval castles, fortifications and palaces of England, Wales, the Islands.
 
 
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Donnington Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Donington; Donyngton; Dennington; Dunnington

In the civil parish of Shaw cum Donnington.
In the historic county of Berkshire.
Modern Authority of West Berkshire.
1974 county of Berkshire.
Medieval County of Berkshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SU461691
Latitude 51.41969° Longitude -1.33807°

Donnington Castle has been described as a certain Masonry Castle.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.

Description

Medieval castle licensed circa 1386. Flint with stone dressings and some repairs in brick. Ruined courtyard with the remains of 6 towers. Gatehouse to east, possibly by Henry Yevele. 3 storeys. 2 circular towers at eastern corners of 4 stages with plinth and battlemented parapet. 2 square headed windows to east with moulded 4-centered arch below. Interior: Gatehall has 2 bay lierne vault with moulded ribs, cusped panels and carved bosses. (Listed Building Report)

Rectangular ward with small round angle-towers; rear projects in a 4-faced bay; large rectangular gatehouse with round towers on front. Licensed 1386. Vigorous defence in Civil War, when encircled in extensive earthworks. (King)

Richard de Abberbury received a licence from the king in 1386 to rebuild and crenellate a castle on his land at Donnington, and after this date the castle is mentioned in references to the manor. Its commanding position overlooks the crossing of two of the main north-south and east-west roads of England, but the only surviving building is the three-storey gatehouse which was added to a slightly earlier quadrangular building. The present ruined courtyard west of the gatehouse was probably a mid 14th century bailey with buildings on all sides. The curtain wall with four round corner towers and two square wall towers can be traced, but the walls now only exist to a height of a metre or less (extensively rebuilt). Most of this damage was caused during the Civil War siege of Donnington Castle, from July 1644 to April 1646, when the Parliamentarians bombarded the castle using cannons. The Royalist Colonel John Boys also altered the monument by constructing the star fort earthworks around it in 1643, when it was garrisoned. Camden described Donnington as 'a small but very neat castle, seated on the banks of a woody hill, having a fair prospect and windows in all sides very lightsome'. In 1415 the manor of Donnington was sold to Thomas Chaucer, who was probably the son of Geoffrey Chaucer, although the poet had died by this time. The castle's glory days were during the Civil War when it was garrisoned for King Charles I; after the destruction of the siege, the estate's owner John Packer abandoned the building in favour of the Elizabethan lodge which became Donnington Castle House. The gatehouse however appears to have been inhabited until the beginning of the 20th century; a small cottage was constructed inside the courtyard against the ruined northeast wall, but this was later removed. (West Berkshire HER)

The gatehouse remains complete and the external walls have been rebuilt to a height of 0.5m. The temporary Civil War works remain for the most part as scarps averaging 1.7m high. (PastScape ref. Field Investigators Comments–F1 JP 15-OCT-63)

A Royal licence to crenellate was granted in 1386 June 11 (Click on the date for details of this licence.).

Comments

Excavated in 1932.
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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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.
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*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 08/05/2017 10:01:47

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