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Saltwood Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Saltuud'a; Saltwuda; turris Saltwode

In the civil parish of Saltwood.
In the historic county of Kent.
Modern Authority of Kent.
1974 county of Kent.
Medieval County of Kent.

OS Map Grid Reference: TR16123591
Latitude 51.08181° Longitude 1.08433°

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

There are major building remains.

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


Remains of a castle, part ruin and part restored. The oval inner bailey and extant inner curtain wall date to the mid 12th century and were built by Henry de Essex, Constable of England and Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. The curtain wall includes 3 round Norman towers which rather unusually project inwards. The most eastern tower was later incorporated into the grand barbican erected as part of the extensive remodelling undertaken by Archbishop William Courtenay in 1382. The Archbishop also added 2 projecting square towers to the southern section of the inner curtain and erected an outer curtain wall which is now ruinous. Following 20th century restoration the barbican remains inhabited. The moated inner bailey also contains 2 halls, again very unusual. The oldest of the 2 dates from the early 14th century, based on the window tracery, and is now quite ruinous. The other, dates from the late 14th century and was built as the Archbishop's audience chamber. Now a largely modern reconstruction although the vaulted undercroft is original. Scheduled. (PastScape)

Castle. Largely ruinous. Core of inner curtain wall C12 (or possibly C11). Rest C12, C13 and C14. Late C14 work by Archbishop Courtenay. 1385 extension to gatehouse attributed to Henry Yevele (Harvey, in M. Wood, The English Medieval House, 1981 edition). Restoration and additions of 1880s by F. Beeston, and by Philip Tilden in 1930s. Ragstone. Roughly triangular outer bailey surrounded by curtain wall, with circular bastions and with north-west barbican. Roughly oval inner bailey impinges into south-west corner of triangle, incorporating rectangular bastions and garderobe towers, east gate-tower and ruins of principal domestic buildings. These last comprise walls of a first- floor hall which used south wall of bailey as its long south wall; outline of a further range including porch, to west of it, also parallel to wall; to west of this, abutting bailey wall at right-angles, another first-floor hall, rebuilt by Tilden; and bases of walls of a chapel adjoining north-west corner of second hall at right-angles, almost abutting west curtain wall and, with second hall, enclosing small garden in south-west corner of bailey. Vestigial evidence of other inner bailey buildings abutting north curtain wall. Inner bailey: curtain walls: complete. 2 rectangular garderobe towers projecting outwards to northand west. 2 larger rectangular towers projecting into the inner bailey, one close to each garderobe tower with pilaster buttresses to outside of curtain wall. Pointed-arched doorway to base of each. 2 rectangular towers projecting beyond curtain wall to south, both with (possibly inserted) lancets; that towards west end lying to south of the second first-floor hall, possibly serving as, or adapted to, solar, and incorporating stairs between hall, "solar" and rampart walks. Small moulded pointed-arched window between stairs and hall, possibly late C14. Tower towards east end with staircase leading to rampart walk and also to landings, with 2 pointed-arched doorways and windows to each of first and second floors of former range to west of first (east) hall. Garderobe within wall thickness. Apparent gateway, blocked, to east of centre of tower, with secondary, squinted, access from west end of hall. East hall: late C13 or early C14. Battered plinth. 3 ground-floor windows to north with almost rounded heads, morticed for bars. 3 pointed-arched first-floor windows to north, 3 to south and one to-east, with restored cusped intersecting tracery and hoodmoulds with label-stops. Internal hoodmoulds with roll-and-fillet moulding linked to blank arcading between windows. Similarly-moulded continuous string linking cills. Corbels for hall floor. Pointed-arched doorway to west end of north wall. West hall: first floor largely by Tilden in a C14 style, formerly late C14, over possibly C13 undercroft. Chamfered stone plinth continuous with that to late C14 chapel ruins to west. Moulded stone string below former parapet or battlements. 2-storey rectangular "porch" to north end of east wall with access to undercroft and via stone steps to hall. 4-centred arched doorway to hall, with broach stops, to south end of west wall, up flight of external stone steps from garden. Plain-chamfered pointed- arched north doorway with broach stops to undercroft. Undercroft: down 8 steps. 8 narrow bays. Pointed-arched tunnel vault with plain-chamfered ribs dying into walls. Chapel: late C14. East end of south wall remains almost to full height. Ogee, moulded trefoil-headed piscina to first floor with pointed- arched doorway to west of it leading to first-floor passage corbelled out in re-entrant angle between chapel and hall. Fragment of moulded stone cornice to ground-floor room of chapel. East gatehouse: West section: probably late C13 or early C14, with C19 additions to east and west. Rectangular. 4 low storeys. Battlemented. One rectangular west window to each storey. Window in place of former west gateway. C19 sections 2 low storeys, battlemented, with stone mullioned and transomed windows. East section: late C14. Built out over former moat. Close-set circular twin towers of 2 tall stages, rising above earlier tower. Each has chamfered stone plinth, chamfered string between stages and moulded string beneath battlements. Deep machicolations to battlemented central section. Restored trefoil-headed lancets to each tower. 2 trefoil-headed lancets under machicolations and one C15 six-light stone mullioned and transomed window with hoodmould to each of 2 upper floors. Pointed-arched plain-chamfered gateway set in shallow rectangular recess, up 8 steps, between towers. Shields with arms of Archbishop Courtenay and Canterbury above recess. Rectangular garderobe towers to rear (west) of twin towers, discharging into former moat and connected to earlier west section of gatehouse. Interior: only partly inspected. 2-bay vault to west section with broad chamfered ribs dying into walls. Portcullis grooves. Quadripartite vault to east section with moulded ribs, springing from wall shafts with moulded capitals and bases. Hexagonal guard-rooms. Garderobe shutes remain. Outer bailey: virtually continuous late C14 curtain wall with 3 circular bastions. Fourth bastion, to south-west, and part of south curtain wall, formerly linked to rest and to inner bailey wall but now separate (see Item 4/ ). Barbican to north-west side of bailey. Rectangular. Most of upper storey missing. Ground floor spanned by three arches, those towards centre and west with portcullis grooves. Chamfered 4-centred arches with broach stops to outer west east faces. Castle formerly moated. Probably ruined by earthquake in 1580. Owned alternately by Christchurch, Canterbury and by lay owners. Murder of Thomas a Becket said to have been planned here (1170). (Listed Building Report)
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:06

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