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Beverstone Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Beverston; Beverstane

In the civil parish of Beverstone.
In the historic county of Gloucestershire.
Modern Authority of Gloucestershire.
1974 county of Gloucestershire.
Medieval County of Gloucestershire.

OS Map Grid Reference: ST86169395
Latitude 51.64428° Longitude -2.20159°

Beverstone 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

The quadrangular castle at Beverston survives in part in its original medieval form and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed. The monument, which represents one of only two such sites known in Gloucestershire offers an insight into the structure of medieval society in this area and the nature of the local economy. The location of the monument will also have exerted a strong influence over the development of the local settlement pattern.
The monument includes a quadrangular castle set on level ground 50m south of St Mary's Church at Beverston, in an area of the Cotswold Hills. The castle includes medieval, post-medieval and modern components and is partially occupied. Some areas of the castle survive largely in their original medieval form, while others are now occupied by more recent structures. Those parts of the castle which survive as upstanding masonry are Listed Grade I. The western wing, which remains unoccupied, constitutes the best surviving section of the original castle. This survives as a three storey building attached to a rectangular corner tower at each end. The southern range is now largely occupied by an 18th century house, built of rubble with a Cotswold stone roof, while in the east the only upstanding remains are those of the gatehouse. The former northern wing has been replaced by modern structures. The monument has a well recorded history of construction. The earliest surviving parts of the castle relate to the fortifications developed by Maurice de Gaunt who purchased the site in around 1225; by c.1229 a roughly pentagonal castle had been constructed without licence. This structure was associated with round towers and a twin tower gatehouse. In 1873 the footings of a circular tower 8m in diameter were uncovered within the rectory garden outside the moat on the western side of the monument. These have not been located precisely, but are likely to relate to the fortifications of the early castle. In 1330 Thomas Lord Berkeley is known to have purchased the site and redeveloped its fortifications. This period witnessed the addition of a large square south western tower with a vaulted basement and an integral chapel, together with the associated domestic block and the eastern gatehouse. The surrounding ditch was constructed during this period and there was an external drawbridge leading to the gatehouse. The smaller north western tower is likely to have been constructed during the 15th century. The redevelopment of the castle was completed during the 15th century and it eventually took a quadrangular form, with four corner towers, a barbican and gatehouse arranged around a central courtyard and surrounded by an external ditch. The courtyard survives as an open area to the west of the gatehouse with dimensions of 28m by 15m. The surrounding ditch remains visible on the western and southern sides of the monument. On the western side the ditch is an earthwork 10m wide and up to c.4m deep and on the southern side it is visible as a terrace within a landscaped garden. Elsewhere the ditch has become infilled, although it survives as a buried feature c.10m wide. The house, which now occupies the southern range of the castle, dates to around 1791. This overlies the site of the former 13th century hall which was destroyed by fire during the early 17th century and itself replaced by another farmhouse also destroyed by fire prior to 1791. The castle does not occupy a particularly good defensive position and is likely to have been of strategic importance because of its proximity to the main Bristol to Gloucester road which lies c.100m to the south. The site was twice besieged in 1664, during the Civil War, before being taken by the Parliamentarians. The structures comprising the western area of the castle, including the towers and intermediate domestic block which are Listed Grade I and the eastern gatehouse also Listed Grade I, are included. (Scheduling Report)

Ruined castle, and house adjoining, with small gazebo on south side on edge of moat with bridge. Castle built as fortified manor house c1225 by Maurice de Gaunt, enlarged c1350/60 by Thomas 3rd Lord of Berkeley including gatehouse, north west tower altered in C15, domestic range on south side added by Hicks family probably in early C17 on site of a former Great Hall and remodelled c1691 after a fire. Bridge and (possibly) gazebo of C18. Random rubble stone, partly dressed, stone slate roofs, large stone stacks including external stack, and lateral stack with 3 diagonally set square flues with moulded cornice, both on north side, and square stone flue from C16 fireplaces in west range, originally probably with decorative cap. Probably originally a rectangular courtyard with corner drum towers and moat, of which only west and south side remain, with additional outer moat now blocked in. West range only remains from C13 structure, with 4-bay chamfered quadripartite rib vault undercroft, originally with single great chamber above now with blocked windows to west and partial remains of inner corner stair towers. South-west corner greatly altered by Thomas Berkeley and new embattled tower added with chapel on first floor, chamber above with squints into adjoining private oratory formerly with rose window now filled in around single stone framed light, and slightly later circular stair tower with some of original wood newel stair still surviving. Chapel has fine tierceron vault with carved stone bosses, pair of richly carved sedilia with crocketed ogee arches and pinnacles, trefoil piscina with credence shelf, and fragments of coloured plaster. Traceried remains of east window match east window in nearby Church of St Mary (q.v.). North west tower formed into square probably in C15 with chambers on each upper floor having fireplace and garderobe. Third storey added over great chamber in C15 or C16 and large moulded fireplaces inserted, the upper one now above the existing roof level. C20 lean-to kitchen on inner side of west range with arched openings into undercroft. South range of 2 storeys and attic with hipped east end, on chamfered plinth, 9 windows, 2-light stone mullions and transoms with deep hollow moulding but with 2 bays to left having wide flat section to mullion and transom and shallower hollow moulding. Continuous dripmould over similar ground floor, with ovolo moulded Tudor archway in bay 6 and C20 glazed door. Two end windows to right on ground floor have been lengthened, second one from end above is blind. All windows leaded casements, and relieving arches to all ground floor windows. Interior of south range has large early C17 chamfered stone fireplace in external stack, chamfered and stopped beams on ground floor, large 3-tier oak newel framed stair with flat newel posts, moulded wide handrail and widely spaced turned balusters, and timber-framed attic storey. Small square gazebo at west end of south terrace, with access below into moat, of rubble stone with pyramidal stone slate roof with ball finial. Small window to south and blocked to east, C20 door on north side into single small room. Bridge from south terrace across moat in thin coursed stone with central almost ogee pointed arch, about one metre wide pathway with flanking iron balustrades. The castle was besieged twice in 1644 and much damaged. (Listed Building Report)

Beverston Castle remains are those of a castle of c.1225, probably quadrangular, with large drum towers at the angles, which in the 14th century was improved and provided with a new gatehouse to the east. The surviving portions are the west range and the north part of the gatehouse. The present 17th century house occupies the site of the 13th century hall in the south range. A moat formerly surrounded the whole castle but now only survives to the west. The castle was besieged twice in 1644 and eventually captured by the Parliamentarians. At the west end of the terrace is a small 18th century gazebo standing on the edge of the moat and surmounted by a pyramidal roof. A 14th century stone barn of 5 bays with three upper cruck trusses surviving lies to the east. There is also a fine, but much later seven bay barn (Verey and Mercer).
Beverstone, a roughly pentagonal castle built, without licence, 1229; with round towers and a twin-tower gatehouse which may well be later. From about 1330 the castle was much altered by the addition of a large square corner tower, a domestic block associated with it and a smaller square tower, the latter of 15th century date (King 1983). (PastScape)

A royal pardon and licence to crenellate was granted in 1229 July 29 (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 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.
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This record last updated 19/04/2017 07:35:33

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