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Eccleshall Castle

In the civil parish of Eccleshall.
In the historic county of Staffordshire.
Modern Authority of Staffordshire.
1974 county of Staffordshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SJ82782956
Latitude 52.86337° Longitude -2.25673°

Eccleshall Castle has been described as a probable Masonry Castle, and also as a certain Palace, 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 2* listed building protected by law*.

Description

A square enclosure bounded by a moat on the south and east sides and a mere to the west and north, formed by damming the River Sow. The moat and the mere are now dry. The retaining bank which controlled the level of water within the mere remains visible 180m north-west of the castle. It forms part of the embankment of the modern road to the west of the site and is not included in the scheduling. The moat is flat-bottomed and measures approximately 21m wide and 4m deep. There is a vertical stone retaining wall on the outer edge of the southern arm of the moat. During excavations by J Fisher between 1972 and 1975 the eastern arm of the moat was sectioned. Organic material such as wood and leather were exposed in a waterlogged layer of black earth and silt above the sub-soil. Access to the island is by a 14th-century stone bridge of two spans with pointed arches. The bridge has a plain parapet and four cutwater butresses. The section at the southern end of the bridge contains infill material, indicating the site of the drawbridge, and the thickening of the central pier may indicate the site of an integral gatetower. The castle gatehouse is thought to have been demolished in the late 18th century. The south, east and north sides of the moated island are revetted by a stone wall. The wall is battered (it has a sloping plinth) and forms the curtain wall of the castle. The revetment walls and the bridge spanning the moat are Grade II listed buildings. The area contained within the curtain wall measures approximately 80m west-east and 60m north-south. At the north-eastern corner of the enclosure wall is a nine-sided tower. The walls are approximately 2m thick and faced inside and out with high quality ashlar, the lower part of which is battered. The tower was originally three-storeyed and contains small, pointed trefoiled window openings. There are the remains of a fireplace on the first floor. The tower is now roofless. Excavation within the tower during 1973-74 located a latrine shaft which yielded 18th-century material. The north-east tower is a Grade II-star listed building. It is probable that there was a similar tower at each angle of the enclosure wall. The remains of the south-east tower have been partly excavated and exposed by the owner, Mr Carter, and include traces of a spiral staircase. The present house on the site dates largely to c.1695 when the castle was rebuilt by Bishop Lloyd and it is a Grade II-star listed building. The house was partly rebuilt in the 19th century when in situ medieval masonry was located within the western wall of the house. The fragment consists of a regularly-coursed, moulded ashlar plinth with a pronounced batter (slope) and is probably part of a large buttress. This in situ portion of medieval masonry is included within the scheduling. The fragment of plinth provides important evidence for the date and character of the castle keep. The clearance of outbuildings on the west side of the house has revealed further patchy evidence of in situ early masonry. These fragments of masonry, however, are excluded from the scheduling since the remains are difficult to define and are incorporated into the fabric of the house. The lower parts of the buildings at the north-western corner of the moated island, which are built on top of the curtain wall, have ashlar masonry. These fragments, however, appear to represent re-used material and are not included in the scheduling. Eccleshall Manor was the property of the Bishops of Coventry and Lichfield from as early as 1086. By 1200 Bishop Muschamp was licensed by King John to embattle the manor house. Bishop Langton, who occupied the see of Lichfield between 1297 and 1321, enlarged and repaired the castle and much of the visible medieval remains of the site accord in style and character with this period. During the Civil War the castle was besieged by the Parliamentarian forces who had demolished it by 1646. The house was rebuilt c.1695 and remained an episcopal residence until 1867. (Scheduling Report)

A Royal licence to crenellate was granted in 1200 April 10 (Click on the date for details of this licence.).

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

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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated on Sunday, October 19, 2014

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