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Leeds Castle Hill

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Castell Hyll

In the civil parish of Leeds.
In the historic county of Yorkshire.
Modern Authority of Leeds.
1974 county of West Yorkshire.
Medieval County of Yorkshire West Riding.

OS Map Grid Reference: SE299333
Latitude 53.79533° Longitude -1.54634°

Leeds Castle Hill has been described as a probable Timber Castle, and also as a probable Fortified Manor House.

There are no visible remains.


Leeds Manor House is said to have occupied the site of Scarborough's Hotel in Bishopgate St. near the west end of Boar Lane. The site of a moat was found in excavations for the late Commercial Buildings in 1828 and this is traditionally the site of a castle (Lumb, 1919), but this is a confusion for Leeds Castle in Kent. There was no castle at Leeds, Yorks (Thompson, 1925).

The manor house of the manor of Leeds lay just north of the river and mill leat and west of the new borough of 1207 on the land now bounded approx. by Mill Hill, Bishopgate Street, Queens Hotel and Boar Lane. Although fallen into disuse in the first half of the fourteenth century, there was a subsequent capital messuage there, depicted as a timber framed house on map of c.1560. A fine house continued on the site until the late nineteenth century but with many changes in its last 100 years. It was said to be ditched around in fourteenth century; woodcut of 1728 shows a possible moat surrounding the (then) house; observation during building works on ?three occasions in nineteenth century found remnants of foundations and the moat on the site of the Queens Hotel, on the south side of West Bar (which was on Boar Lane) and on the site of the late Commercial Buildings (see detailed newspaper reports). Although the area is much developed now, some of the present buildings of nineteenth century date are likely to be redeveloped and remains have been observed at such a depth that it is quite possible that archaeological levels are preserved beneath them. The manor was abutted by the park to its north-west and by the mill leat and manorial mills immediately to the south and south-east. The whole complex was quite distant from the parish church and supposed original settlement area around the church and on Kirkgate; it is conjectured that the present Swinegate and The Calls represent an original route between manor and church area and that Boar Lane developed with the creation of the intervening borough in 1207. The conjectured importance of Leeds in the pre-Conquest period and the location of this major manorial complex have led to speculation that the manor may perpetuate an important pre-Conquest site. Archaeological watching brief in 1991 found no evidence to suggest that the area examined formed part of the site of the medieval manor. However it might be speculated that as the development area covered part of the interior of the moated area (thus explaining the absence of the moat itself) lowering of the ground level around the turn of the century could have removed all trace of the manorial buildings. Features observed did however include the remains of Victorian/early 20th century buildings, a circular brick-lined well and a large undated square-cut timber containing two mortise slots. (West Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service)

King writes has been credited with a castle but in mistake for Leeds, Kent. Jean le Patourel writes "unknown site. Survey of 1341 speaks of site of manor within moats, but without buildings. Survey of 1327 values capital messuage." A rough sketch map of 1560 has marked on it 'The ancient manor house of Leeds called Castle Hill' somewhere west of Briggate, north of the River Aire and south of the Headrow. Maurice Paynel, lord of the manor created a new borough around Briggate in 1207.
Some writers preconceptions as to what a castle was and the coincidental existence of a major royal castle in Leeds, Kent seems to have led to a precipitous rejection of this site as a castle. In fact this was clearly an important manorial centre; had a well established and early castle and hill place name; is shown on some early maps as a mound; has some evidence for earthworks giving a reasonably secure location. Regardless of any mis-attributed history the other evidence means this must be regarded as a possible motte with bailey and/or a moated manor house.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:08

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