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Sauvey Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Salvata; Salvee; Sanvey; Trencheland

In the civil parish of Withcote.
In the historic county of Leicestershire.
Modern Authority of Leicestershire.
1974 county of Leicestershire.
Medieval County of Leicestershire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SK78680525
Latitude 52.63942° Longitude -0.83784°

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

There are masonry footings remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Medieval ringwork and bailey castle built in reign of Stephen (1135-54) including surrounding ditch and dam surviving as earthworks. Stone foundations of original buildings and curtain wall. Favoured hunting lodge of King John. Mentioned in 1216, 1226 and in 1246, it was probably ruinous in C15. The castle consists of two enclosures; a rectangular bailey measuring 100m by 70m on the western side, and a smaller oval enclosure measuring 60m by 40m on the east. The surface of the bailey is flat with a slight inner bank on the west and south sides; a low mound with depressions on the north-east side represents the location of a guardhouse. To the east, the smaller enclosure is slightly higher than the bailey and contained the original stone castle which can be seen exposed in several places, especially near the entrance. The surrounding ditch varies between 20m wide on the west side, opening out to a 60m valley on the east. Situated to the south east is an earth bank, 6m high, which dammed the valley. Sauvey Castle has an unusual plan with few parallels nationally. Scheduled as a Ringwork and Bailey. (PastScape)

Early C13th castle that had fallen into disrepair by the C14th. The site is close to several confluences of the River Chater, one of which was dammed to form the moat.
Sauvey Castle is mentioned in 1215-20 in relation to a rebellion by Earl of AUMALE (ALBERMARLE) against King John. It is referred to as a castle until 1316, often being granted to the Forester of Leighfield Forest with which it seems to have been connected. On 7/7/1244 timber for a chapel in the Castle of Sauvey, 40' x 22' was granted from the Forest. On 4/1/1245 stone slates from a stable in the castle were granted for the chapel, implying that it was a stone building.
The site is at the confluence of several small tributaries of the River Chater. A dam at the SE corner of the site presumably ponded up the water to form a large 'moat' around the castle which, as in motte and bailey castles, was divided into an inner and outer enclosure separated by a deep ditch. The entrance was presumably at the western end of the 'bailey', and there is a prominent platform at its north-eastern corner and remnants of an inner bank. On the other island (the 'motte equivalent') are at least 2 building sites, one perhaps the chapel.
In 1855 Arthur Spencer donated a medieval spout and a Bellarmine jug fragment showing a lion rampant from the site.
The castle stood on Castle Hill, NGR: SK786052, rather less than a mile SW of Withcote (HER ref.: MLE2679) on the edge of Leicestershire. Cantor notes the presence of an earthwork bank and ditch on Castle Hill, defining the outer defences of the castle. According to Nichols, it was built by Lord Bassett of Weldon. However, he gives no supporting documentary evidence and, Cantor considers, it seems more likely that it was built in 1211 by King John on land he had recently acquired near Withcote. There are various references to the appointment of royal officials as governors of the castle for most of the 13th century, however, by the following century it had fallen into disrepair. Its ruins were scarcely visible in 1622 and by the later 17th century no trace of structures remained (Cantor 1977-8).
Taking Sauvey as an example, Creighton stresses the integration of the castle, into the manorial and administrative landscape. Sauvey lies on the edge of the forest of Rutland and functioned as the principal centre for the forest's administration, its purpose as a royal hunting seat dictating its physical isolation, however, it was administratively associated with the manor of Withcote. The manor was granted as an appendage of the castle under the reigns of John and Henry III, but this is reversed by the time of Henry IV (early C15th) indicating the declining importance of the castle. Creighton describes the castle as overlooked from its immediate surroundings, relying on the skilful adaption of water defences for its strength. Two curvilinear banks with an interval gap are not defensive in purpose, but represent a remarkable water mangement feature containing, in effect, a shallow lake which entirely surrounded the island, comparisons are drawn with Ravensworth, N. Yorks. and Bardsey cum Rigton, W Yorks (Creighton 1997). (Leicestershire and Rutland HER)

Suggested as a location of 'Trencheland' recorded once when £16 spent by King John on lead for the roof, although this may alternatively have been Allexton, Leicestershire.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:02

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