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Thorpe Waterville Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Castle Barn; Thorp Watervill

In the civil parish of Thorpe Achurch.
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: TL02258143
Latitude 52.42131° Longitude -0.49783°

Thorpe Waterville Castle has been described as a Palace but is rejected as such, and also as a certain Fortified Manor House.

There are major building remains.

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


Near the river here are the remains of Thorpe Waterville Castle, built by Walter de Langton, Bishop of Lichfield, (Pytchley, Bk. of Fees (Northants. Rec. Soc.), 42. Bridges (Hist. Northants. ii, 367) states that it was probably built by Ascelin de Waterville, but there seems to be no historical or architectural evidence for this early date.) who held the manor from 1300 to 1307 and had licence to crenellate his house there in 1301.
The castle is mentioned in 1307, after the forfeiture of his lands, when the gate of the castle and chapel are referred to. In the next century, the castle is regularly mentioned with the manors and in 1461 it was held for the Lancastrians against Edward IV, who ordered Sir John Wenlock to besiege it with three cannon. (Presumably it was more or less destroyed at this time. A constable was appointed certainly as late as 1485, and in 1537, 'le Parke' in the castle is mentioned. About the same time John Leland refers to the ruins of the outer wall of the castle as he passed through the village. The castle was apparently of the type of fortified manor house which was being built early in the 14th century. Only a portion of this house survives, which for a long time has been used as a barn. It is built of stone and measures externally 70 ft. in length from north to south, by 25 ft. 10 in. in width. This structure, which has a plinth all round and a gable at each end, was originally of two stories, but the upper floor has long been removed, and wide openings have been made in the middle of the side walls. There is evidence of a partition having run across the building at its centre and a two-story gabled porch is said to have stood on the east side until about a century ago. At the north end, corbelled out from the first floor, is a chimney, the upper part of which, above the gable, is octagonal and battlemented, and on either side of the chimney is a circular moulded opening, nearly 2 ft. in diameter. There is said to have been a similarly constructed chimney at the south end. There are loop windows in the longer sides, and the roof principals have moulded collars and kingposts. The walls are 3 ft. thick and the roof is covered with thatch. All the remaining architectural features are of 14th century date. (VCH 1930)

Great hall of castle, now a barn. Early C14 origins for Walter de Langton. Bishop of Lichfield. Squared coursed limestone with thatch roof. Rectangular plan, originally probably the hall and solar range. Originally part 2 storeys, first floor structure now removed. West elevation has central C19 cart entrance. Ashlar plinth. Ashlar gable parapets. Gable to left has projecting chimney breast, corbelled out from first floor level, and eith octagonal crenellated flue on square base. At attic level the chimney breast is flanked by deeply recessed circcular windows with moulded surrounds. Right gable has slit vents. Rear has C19 central cart entrance. Interior: very fine king-post roof structure. Tie beams have wall posts and curved braces, the king posts have braces in both directions, and similar braces opposite the collars. Main beams have moulded soffits. Moulded cornice. Evidence of screen in roof structure of bay to north. Evidence of first floor fireplace in north gable wall. Roof structure of hall range has smoke blackening. A 2-storey gabled porch is said to have been removed C19. Walter de Langton was licensed to crenellate in 1301. (Listed Building Report)

A Royal licence to crenellate was granted in 1301 Jan 1 (Click on the date for details of this licence.).


Langton's lands were forfeited to Edward II in 1307, although he largely seems to have completed his building work by this time. This was a private house of the bishop's rather than an episcopal palace belonging to the see of Lichfield.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:02

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