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Hartlebury Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;

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

OS Map Grid Reference: SO83607124
Latitude 52.33900° Longitude -2.24211°

Hartlebury Castle has been described as a certain Masonry Castle, and also as a certain Palace.

There are masonry footings remains.

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


Bishop's palace. C15 with late C17 and mid- to late C18 extensions and 1960s remodelling. C18 work by Henry Keene and James Smith of Shifnal. Sandstone ashlar and brick, hipped slate roof to front, tile roof to rear. U-plan, main block aligned north/south, containing C15 hall to north end and C18 saloon (within C15 walls); to rear (west) of hall a former long gallery (divided up as private rooms in 1960s) with C18 library above; south range has C15 chapel projecting forwards (east) with Bishop's study behind; between this range and saloon is the entrance hall with staircase behind, above entrance hall is the Prince Regent's Bedroom; north range of late C17 was the kitchen wing, now Hereford and Worcester County Museum. East front: symmetrical central block of one storey with crenellated parapet, central porch and six windows: glazing bar sashes under 2-centred heads with Gothick glazing, installed c1760 - 1770; porch: c1680 semi-circular pediment flanked by ball finials, the pediment bearing Bishop Fleetwood's (1675 - 1683) arms; lugged architrave to panelled door; on roof is an octagonal cupola with open sides in Chinoiserie Gothick style, to front of pedestal a wind direction indicator connected to the weather vane. The central block is flanked by two wings which break forward of two storeys with attics lit by three hipped dormers, and four windows in slight breaks forward (the wall is of c1680, the sashes c1760 - 1770): 20-pane sashes to first floor, ground floor windows as central block, but of less height; beyond these two wings there is the chapel projecting to the left, and balancing wing to the right, chapel: diagonal buttresses, three stepped lancets (the central one larger) in a recessed panel with 4-centred head (of c1750); four 2-centred headed windows with Y-tracery face into the courtyard; the balancing wing has two windows, that to left a 20-pane sash, to the right.2-light casements of mid- C20, ground floor: two windows similar to central block. Interior: hall: retains C15 five-bay roof of arch braced collar trusses, with ceiling inserted just above collar; the wall posts rest on corbels; fireplace in centre of west wall has bolection moulded surround and overmantel of late C17; geometrical staircase at north end with cast iron handrail (late C18) leads up to an entrance to kitchen range; the entrance at the south end from the porch is set in a tall recess with 4-centred head and moulded jambs and arch, reflected by a similar feature in west wall over opposed doors. Saloon: decorated c1760 with Rococo style papier-maché to walls and ceiling; ceiling panels represent music scores and wind instruments; to each wall two large panels framing spaces for portraits. Entrance hall: overmantel with landscape by Zuccarelli (originally in Saloon whence it had come from Bishop Hurd's (1781 - 1808) London House). Chapel: by Henry Keene c1750, plaster fan vault, panelling to walls, stalls, reredos and Bishop's pew in Gothick style; east window: late C19 glass, remnants of C18 glazing by J Rowell in heads of windows. Bishop's study: has late C17 bolection moulded panelling. Prince Regent's Bedroom: very plain room with pelmets of c1807 to match the bed hangings, and similar pelmet in adjoining dressing room. Library: 1782 by James Smith of Shifnal, executed by Joseph Bromfield of Shrewsbury, tripartite plan, with bow window to middle of west wall, divisions marked by Ionic columns, outer compartments each have three bays of bookcases; main part has coved ceiling with small central saucer dome, two bookcases flank central fireplace on east wall, each with scrolled pediment; columns marbled and bookcases grained. There is a moat around the house, the east side of which has been filled in, and is still with water to the west. There has been a Bishop's Palace on this site since at least the mid-C13. One of the most significant of the early works of the Gothick Revival (predates Strawberry Hill); partly inspired from Batty Langley's pattern books eg the screen between the Chapel and the ante-Chapel. (Listed Building Report)

Hartlebury Castle was originally the manor-house of Hartlebury, and has always followed the same descent as the manor. Walter Cantilupe began to build in the time of Henry III, (Dugdale, Mon. Angl. i, 574. Sir J. Mackenzie states that the building was begun in 1255 (Castles of Engl. i, 383), but Dugdale gives the date as 1263.) the castle being finished by Bishop Giffard, who in 1268 obtained a royal licence to complete its fortification. (Thomas, Surv. of Worc. Cath. App. 44; Prattinton Coll. (Soc. Antiq.). Bishop Giffard was accused of appropriating some of the goods of the sacrist to meet the expense of building Hartlebury Castle (Thomas, op. cit. App. no. 67).) The first royal visitor to the castle was Edward I, who came here on his way to suppress the Welsh rebellion of 1282. He then called upon Bishop Giffard to have ready his forces to join the expedition. (Reg. G. Giffard (Worcs. Hist. Soc.), Introd. 147) Twelve years later Edward again spent a day here when he was journeying to Wales. (Cal. Pat. 1292–1301, p. 126. Mr. Robertson states that Edward III also visited the castle ('Hist. of Parish of Hartlebury,' Assoc. Archit. Soc. Rep. xxvi, 216).) In the middle of the 16th century the castle is described as a 'fayre Maner Place … having ii lyttel Towers covered with Leade, and the Chamber cauled the Bishop's Chamber also covered with Leade, and there is a Chappell annexed to the said Chamber lykewyse covered with Leade, where ys a lyttell Bell weying by estimacion dimid. hundred Weight. Also there is a Mote and a Ponde adjoyning to the said Castell well stored with Fyshe.' (Rev. D. Robertson, op. cit. 215.) (VCH 1913)

A Royal licence to crenellate was granted in 1268 June 8 (Click on the date for details of this licence.).


In 1268 Bishop Giffard, loyal to the Plantagenet dynasty, Henry IIIs chancellor obtained a licence to crenellate (This is not entered in the royal rolls but an early copy was/is in the cathedral records)
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:27

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