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Strensham Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Strengesham; Moat Farm

In the civil parish of Strensham.
In the historic county of Worcestershire.
Modern Authority of Worcestershire.
1974 county of Hereford and Worcester.
Medieval County of Worcestershire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SO90464048
Latitude 52.06273° Longitude -2.14046°

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

There are earthwork remains.

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

Description

The moated site of Strensham Castle is a well-preserved example of a complex medieval manorial moat incorporating rare Civil War defensive earthwork features. The documentary evidence for the site provides an insight into the concerns and lifestyle of its owners. The undisturbed nature of the moat island will preserve evidence of former structures, including both domestic and ancillary buildings and their associated occupation levels. These remains will illustrate the nature of use of the site and the lifestyle of its inhabitants in addition to evidence which will facilitate the dating of construction and subsequent periods of use. The moat ditches can be expected to preserve earlier deposits including evidence for their construction and any alterations during their active history. In addition, the waterlogged nature of the site will preserve environmental information relating to the climate, ecosystem and landscape in which it was set. English Civil War fieldworks are earthworks which were raised during military operations between 1642 and 1645 to provide temporary protection for infantry or to act as gun emplacements. The earthworks, which may have been reinforced with revetting and palisades, consisted of banks and ditches and varied in complexity from simple breastworks to complex systems of banks and interconnected trenches. They can be recognised today as surviving earthworks or as crop or soil marks on aerial photographs. The circumstances and cost of their construction may be referred to in contemporary historical documents. Fieldworks are recorded widely throughout England with concentrations in the main areas of Civil War campaigning. Those with a defensive function were often sited to protect settlements or their approaches. Those with an offensive function were designed to dominate defensive positions and to contain the besieged areas. There are some 150 surviving examples of fieldworks recorded nationally. The Civil War defences at Strensham Castle including the rampart and the outer moat ditch provide information about the status and military position of the Civil War owner, Sir William Russell, in addition to being a rare survival of a fortified Civil War garrison. Modification and reuse of the moated site during the Civil War demonstrates its continuing importance as a defensive feature in the landscape.
The monument includes the buried and earthwork remains of the moated site and Civil War defences at Strensham Castle. It is situated at Lower Strensham, approximately 600m west of Strensham church which is itself situated on high ground overlooking the River Avon, 300m to the east. The site consists of two concentric square moats surrounding a central island and was the site of a house built by Sir John Russell who obtained a licence to crenellate in 1388. During the Civil War it was the property of Sir William Russell, Royalist and Governor of Worcester, and the outer moat ditch and intermediate ramparts were built around the existing medieval defences during this period. The site was garrisoned with 16 troops of cavalry until it was slighted after the fall of Worcester in 1646. Sir William Russell received special treatment after the fall of Worcester, being excepted from the surrender treaty by the Parliamentarian Major-General Rainsborough and imprisoned. Immediately to the west of the moat is a Victorian farm which is believed to occupy the site of the medieval gateway to the moated site and which may have contained an oratory that James Russell was licenced to build in 1288. The survival of these features is uncertain, however, and this area is not therefore included in the scheduling. The medieval house which once occupied the moat island is believed to have been destroyed in the Civil War slighting. The outer moat ditch, which is water-filled and approximately 10m wide by 1m to 2m deep, is fed in its north east corner by a leat from a stream which runs parallel with the eastern arm of the moat. There is an external bank 4m to 6m wide and 1m to 2m high between the stream and the eastern arm of the moat. The stream also fed a pond at the south east corner of the moat. This pond is no longer visible, having been infilled, and is therefore not included in the scheduling. The outer moat encloses an area of approximately 90m by 78m. Separating the outer from inner moat is a substantial rampart which is approximately 4m higher than both the surrounding land and the inner moat. This rampart is approximately 10m wide at its corners and is built on a bank which is approximately 0.5m higher than the water level of the outer moat. The rampart rises from this platform and incorporates an artillery emplacement situated on a projecting bastion at each of its four corners. The inner moat is believed to be filled by surface water and is approximately 8m to 10m wide by 2m deep. Access to the island is via a causeway in the centre of the western arm which crosses both ditches and is approximately 15m wide. There is some evidence of former bridge abutments over the outer ditch. The island measures approximately 25m by 35m and is approximately 2m higher than the prevailing ground level. It is undulating with a platform approximately 15m by 10m and 0.2m to 0.5m high in its south eastern corner, possibly indicating the site of the medieval house. (Scheduling Report)

A Royal licence to crenellate was granted in 1388 Feb 12 (Click on the date for details of this licence.).

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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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*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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