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Rotherfield Greys Court

In the civil parish of Rotherfield Greys.
In the historic county of Oxfordshire.
Modern Authority of Oxfordshire.
1974 county of Oxfordshire.
Medieval County of Oxfordshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SU72478341
Latitude 51.54503° Longitude -0.95622°

Rotherfield Greys Court has been described as a probable Masonry Castle, and also as a certain Fortified Manor House.

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*.


Part of the curtain wall and two rectangular towers of a small castle of mid-fourteenth century. One tower is set obliquely at the N angle, the other tower is in the middle of the NE side. A third tower is octagonal and its SE corner is incorporated in a cottage of ?early C17 date. Traces of buildings abutting on the curtain wall perhaps remain underground. The top storey of tower B is a later addtition of flint and brick, the main castle buildings being of flint with ashlar quoins. A brick fireplace of C16 inserted in the curtain wall shows that part continued in use up to that period, but in Elizabeth's reign the present house was built. Adjacent to the S end of the house is the Elizabethan well-house with donkey-wheel still complete. To the E of tower C are two walls of a flint building with brick buttresses, having three-light traceried windows between the buttresses. (Oxfordshire HER)

Walter de Grey, Archbishop of York, is recorded as having bought Rotherfield from Eve de Grey about 1239 and settled it upon his brother Robert, ancestor of the Lords Grey of Rotherfield.
"Of his great-nephew Sir Robert, who fought for Edward I in Wales, 1283, it is recorded that he complained of people breaking into his park SU 78 SW 19 at Rotherfield and stealing the deer. So a mansion of some importance must have already been in existence then." A licence to crenellate his dwelling-place at Rotherfield was granted to John de Grey in the winter of 1346. "He ....considerably amplified the Court of Rotherfield Greys. Of the great rectangular walled enclosure, its sides some 200 yards long, in which it stood, the east wall is fairly complete and may well go back to the time of the Archbishop or his brother. If so, the license to crenellate refers to the addition of towers to this enclosure, of which four survive. Those at the south-east and south-west angles are octagonal, the best preserved that at the south-east incorporated in the detached Tudor building known as Bachelors' Hall. The north-east tower and a fourth, attached to the east wall, are square. The inner face of these evidently abutted on to domestic buildings.
Of a gatehouse, such as there is likely to have been, or of a great hall and the mediaeval house itself, nothing remains ...
The well-house stands on the line of the mediaeval south wall, unrelated to the dwelling-house. Beneath it is a well 228 ft. deep, which is worked by a donkey wheel, 25 ft. in diameter ... The whole structure is still in working order and the most completely preserved example of a treadmill. The well, from its position, is no doubt that of the 13th century Court.
The old stable stands near the east side of the quadrangle, where a grass-grown mound may indicate the remains of mediaeval domestic buildings."
Bachelors' Hall is "traditionally described as the chapel."
The older brick portions of the present house were probably built by Sir Francis Knollys who acquired the estate from Henry VIII in 1538. "The house stands in the western half of the Court, its three-gabled front facing east, of flint, brick, and clunch probably quarried from the mediaeval buildings." This east front was apparently added on to the Tudor work of Sir Francis Knollys probably by William Knollys c. 1600, and it may have been much larger at one time as some of it is supposed to have been destroyed in the Civil War. "The north end was certainly reconstructed of brick in the eighteenth century, perhaps implying an amputation at that point".(PastScape ref. Hussey 1944)

A Royal licence to crenellate was granted in 1346 Dec 10 (Click on the date for details of this licence.).
A Royal licence to crenellate was confirmed in 1348 Feb 22.

Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:02

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