Barnwell Castle

Northamptonshire, England

City/Town/Village: Barnwell
District: East Northamptonshire
County: Northamptonshire
Latitude/Longitude: 52.4547, -0.457442
Postcode: PE8 5PN
(postcode is for sat-nav purposes only, and may not represent the actual address of the castle)

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Barnwell Castle is a mid 13th century stone enclosure fortress, founded by Berengar le Moine. This large rectangular castle, is encased by a high curtain wall, which is flanked by huge two storey towers. At the south-east corner, is a twin-towered gatehouse and a D-shaped tower, with two trilobate towers and a round tower on the other angles. In 1568, Sir Edward Montagu founded a Tudor manor house, in the outer court and sadly demolished all the buildings within the courtyard.

Barnwell Castle is a Listed Building. Here's what the official description says about it:

20/18 Barnwell Castle

Castle. Built about 1266 by Berenger Le Moyne; some building work may have taken
place within the castle during C16. Squared coursed limestone with ashlar
dressings. Rectangular plan of the concentric type with round corner towers of 2
stages. Entrance front, to east, has gate-house, to far left of curtain wall,
with flanking semi-circular towers. Triple-chamfered gatearch, with pointed head
and polygonal responds. Semi-circular, single-chamfered, inner doorway. Inside,
the gatehouse has a pointed tunnel vault and grooves for a portcullis. Large
square-head window opening above gatearch. Flanking towers have cross slits at
ground floor and rectangular openings to upper level. Similar corner tower to
left. North-east tower, to far right, is a trefoil arrangement of round towers.
Cross slits to upper and lower stages. Blank curtain walls, between towers, on
north and south elevations. West elevation to rear of entrance front has
semi-circular south-west corner tower, to right, with a 2-light stone mullion
window to the upper stage. Trefoil arrangement of round towers at north-west
corner, to left. Centre linking tower of this arrangement is a narrower
quadrant. Both corner towers have cross slits. Section of curtain wall, between
towers, to left of centre, has been rebuilt. To the left of this section of wall
is a postern gate with 2-centred arch head. The courtyard elevations have been
stripped of their facing stone in certain areas. Elevation to rear of gatehouse
has small doorways with semi-circular heads, giving access to gatehouse towers.
Originally there was a square-head window opening above central gatearch. Small
doorway, with semi-circular head, to right, gives access to south-east tower. -
Similar doorways, set on an angle in the corners, give access to the other
towers from the courtyard. Evidence of a fireplace, to right of the postern
gate, was possibly also part of the domestic accommodation within the castle
walls. Evidence of cross wall in east elevation of courtyard with traces of
plaster recorded, was possibly also part of the domestic accommodation within
the castle walls. The curtain walls are approximately 3.6 metres thick with the
exception of the section in the west elevation which was rebuilt, which is
approximately one metre thick. Interior: gatehouse towers each have 2 bays of
single-chamfered rib vaults to ground floor. A rectangular chamber over the
gateway was originally accessible from a flight of steps immediately north of
the inner gatearch. The upper rooms of the gatehouse towers have square-head
windows with an inner pointed arch. In the south-east tower are the remains of a
pointed rib vault to the ground floor. In the south-west tower a staircase, off
the entrance passage, gives access to a square room above which has a 2-light
stone mullion window and a fireplace. A further room over this chamber also had
a fireplace and a window. In the north-east and north-west towers the centre
towers of the trefoil arrangement contained the spiral-staircase. The north-east
tower also has a garderobe chute. The towers and curtain walls were originally
probably higher and would have had a castellated parapet. The building date of
1266 is derived from a Jury statement of 1276 which records that Berenger Le
Moyne had built a castle 10 years earlier. The Rector of Barnwell also agreed in
1257 to there being a Chapel at Barnwell Castle. An inquiry discovered that no
licence had been obtained to build the castle, and Berenger le Moyne had to
return the Manor to the Abbotts of Ramsey who held it before 1120, and with whom
it remained until the dissolution. It was then granted to Chief Justice Sir
Edmund Montagu, In 1540 Leyland describes "the meane house of a farmer" in the
castle. Camden writing in 1586 mentions the "little castle which now of late Sir
Edmund Monacute hath of late repaired and beautified with new buildings". It is
unclear whether this statement refers to C16 domestic buildings within the
castle, of which there is suggested evidence, or the house now known as Barnwell
Manor (q.v.). The castle was probably used as a farmyard during C18 and C19 with
access through the break in the west curtain wall. Barnwell Castle passed from
the Duke of Buccleuch's estate in 1913 and was sold in 1938 to Their Royal
Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester. Barnwell Castle is scheduled as
an Ancient Monument.
(Barnwell Manor gardens are included in the H.B.M.C.E. Register of Gardens at
grade II. Buildings of England: Northamptonshire: p101; Hussey, C.: Country
Life, September 10 1959: p238-241, and September 17 1959: p298-301; VCH:
Northamptonshire, Vol 3: p71; Traylen A.R. (editor), Barnwell in
Northamptonshire: p3-7; Giggins, B., unpublished research)

Listing NGR: TL0491785203

Information from British Listed Buildings

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