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Castle Ashby; The Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Asheby David; Asscheby

In the civil parish of Castle Ashby.
In the historic county of Northamptonshire and the Soke of Peterborough.
Modern Authority of Northamptonshire.
1974 county of Northamptonshire.
Medieval County of Northamptonshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SP86255923
Latitude 52.22453° Longitude -0.73873°

Castle Ashby; The Castle has been described as a Timber Castle although is doubtful that it was such, and also as a Masonry Castle although is doubtful that it was such, and also as a certain Palace, and also as a probable Fortified Manor House.

There are no visible remains.

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


Castle extant during the 11th century and in ruins during the 1530s. The present house was constructed in 1574 and completed circa 1600. The house was constructed around a courtyard and was generally of two-storeys, with a tower projecting at each corner. There were later additions of circa 1624-1635, early 18th century and 1748. The hall was rebuilt between 1771-1772 and there were major renovations between 1797-1807. T G Jackson remodelled the house circa 1880 and Fairfax Wade carried out alterations in 1884. There were also 20th century alterations. (PastScape)

The mansion, which is one of the seats of the Marquess of Northampton, has nothing of the castle about it; it is a fine house of the Elizabethan period, altered in many places by descendants of the original builder, Henry, 1st Lord Compton. But it was built near the site of the medieval castle which already in the time of Leland, early in the 16th century, was a ruin. It is 'now clene down', he says, 'and is made a septum for beestes'. (VCH)

A Royal licence to crenellate was granted in 1306 Sept 16 (Click on the date for details of this licence.).


The assertion that there was a castle here from the C11 comes from Pevsner, but doesn't appear to be supported by archaeological or documentary evidence. The tenurial history given in the VCH would not exclude a castle here but isn't particular suggestive of one. This was a small manor, of less than 2 hides, held by knight's service from the honor of Huntingdon by a local family. In the welsh marches manors of this size and type are sometimes marked with a small motte but that is not usual in Northamptonshire.
The castle Leland saw scant ruins of must have been the house of Bishop Walter de Langton, who was both wealthy and a notable builder, although it is unlikely this was more than a fortified manor house. The lack of remains in Lelands time, less than 250 years after it was built, may well suggest this not a particularly strong building despite the castle name. Leland description, as an enclosure for animals, is too vague for a suggestion of form and the construction of the Elizabethan house has entirely removed the medieval house and much altered the local landscape.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:02

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