Maxstoke Castle


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


© Crown Copyright and database right 2021. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2021. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1007723.pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 03-Dec-2021 at 00:26:40.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

North Warwickshire (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SP 22384 89104

Reasons for Designation

A quadrangular castle is a strongly fortified residence built of stone, or sometimes brick, around a square or rectangular courtyard. The outer walls formed a defensive line, frequently with towers sited on the corners and occasionally in intermediate positions as well. Some of the very strongly defended examples have additional external walls. Ditches, normally wet but sometimes dry, were also found outside the walls. Two main types of quadrangular castle have been identified. In the southern type, the angle and intermediate mural towers were most often round in plan and projected markedly from the enclosing wall. In the northern type, square angle towers, often of massive proportions, were constructed, these projecting only slightly from the main wall. Within the castle, accommodation was provided in the towers or in buildings set against the walls which opened onto the central courtyard. An important feature of quadrangular castles was that they were planned and built to an integrated, often symmetrical, design. Once built, therefore, they did not lend themselves easily to modification. The earliest and finest examples of this class of castle are found in Wales, dating from 1277, but they also began to appear in England at the same time. Most examples were built in the 14th century but the tradition extended into the 15th century. Later examples demonstrate an increasing emphasis on domestic comfort to the detriment of defence and, indeed, some late examples are virtually defenceless. They provided residences for the king or leading families and occur in both rural and urban situations. Quadrangular castles are widely dispersed throughout England with a slight concentration in Kent and Sussex protecting a vulnerable coastline and routes to London. Other concentrations are found in the north near the Scottish border and also in the west on the Welsh border. They are rare nationally with only 64 recorded examples of which 44 are of southern type and 20 are of northern type. Considerable diversity of form is exhibited with no two examples being exactly alike. With other types of castle, they are major medieval monument types which, belonging to the highest levels of society, frequently acted as major administrative centres and formed the foci for developing settlement patterns. Castles generally provide an emotive and evocative link to the past and can provide a valuable educational resource, both with respect to medieval warfare and defence, and to wider aspects of medieval society. All examples retaining significant remains of medieval date are considered to be of national importance.

Maxstoke Castle is one of the best preserved examples of this type of castle in England and it is largely unencumbered by later development. The construction of Maxstoke Castle in the mid 14th century illustrates the transition in architectural styles between the purely defensive castle of the early 14th century and the increasingly informal defences of residences of the 15th century. The importance of the site is enhanced by detailed documentary records.


The monument is situated in an isolated context, approximately 2km west of Coleshill, and includes the standing and buried remains of Maxstoke Castle. In 1345, William de Clinton, who was also responsible for the construction of nearby Maxstoke Priory, was granted a licence to crenallate a new dwelling at Maxstoke. This new dwelling was Maxstoke Castle, a site which has external dimensions of 110m north-south and 100m east-west. The quadrangular castle is built of squared and coursed red sandstone and includes a single court which is encompassed by a curtain wall and surrounded by a moat. The area of land between the curtain wall and the moat has a levelled surface and is thought to have served as a terraced walkway around the inner edge of the moat probably within a low, outer curtain, of which all trace has now been buried. The stone-revetted moat measures approximately 20m wide. The four arms of the moat are waterfilled and are fed by a stream which enters at the south east corner of the site. An outlet channel is visible at the north west corner of the moat. Access into the interior of the castle is by means of a bridge across the eastern arm of the moat. The 2m thick curtain wall encloses an area of approximately 50m square and is embattled. Beneath the embattlement is a moulded cornice with beast gargoyles and embrasures for shutters. There is an octagonal tower at each corner and these measure up to 9m in diameter. Three of the towers, the north east, south east and south west, have three storeys and contain ogee-headed windows. The north west tower, also of three storeys, has a vaulted basement. The curtain wall and octagonal towers are Listed Grade I and are included in the scheduling. In the central part of the east curtain wall is a gatehouse flanked by octagonal turrets which projects into the moat. The outer and inner gateway arches are two-centred and of two chamfered orders. The rebate for the drawbridge, which originally provided access into the castle, is visible. The passage between the gate arches is vaulted and of two bays. The quadrangle formed by the curtain wall was originally occupied by building ranges along all four sides. With the exception of two garderobes within the curtain wall to the south of the gatehouse, there is little evidence to indicate the character of the building range along the eastern side of the quadrangle. The main range is situated against the west curtain wall. It has been much altered, particularly during the late 15th century and the 1820s. The western range originally contained the Great Hall, a kitchen and a chapel. A large traceried, six light window, is visible within the fabric of the west curtain wall. It is thought to indicate the location of the 14th century chapel within the range. The north west part of the courtyard is occupied by a mid-17th century timber-framed building which is in use as a dwelling. It is Listed Grade I. There were originally building ranges along the remainder of the north and along the south curtain walls, both of which are included within the scheduling. The south east ranges are thought to have been at least partly demolished during the early 16th century when the northern range was remodelled. Traces of these ranges remain within the fabric of the curtain walls. The corbels for first-floor beams, a number of single-light upper windows and fireplaces are visible in the south, and part of the north walls. Two doorways are visible in the central part of the north curtain wall; the lower pierces the curtain wall, providing access onto the moat walkway. The foundations of the northern and southern ranges will survive beneath the ground surface. In c.1438, the de Clintons exchanged Maxstoke Castle for properties in Northamptonshire and the castle passed into the hands of Humphrey, Earl of Stafford, who became the first Duke of Buckingham. There is documentary evidence to indicate that slight alterations were made to the site by the Buckinghams. In 1521 the manor of Maxstoke and the castle were granted to Sir William Compton, but at the end of the 16th century Maxstoke Castle became the property of Sir Thomas Dilke. The western range, which is in use as a dwelling, and the 16th century timber framed building, also a dwelling are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath, including the west curtain wall is included. The surfaces of all paths and the driveway, the gatehouse clock, flag-pole, lantern and weather-vane, the length of walling at the north east edge of the moat, the sundial, water tank, modern drainage pipes and all fence posts are also excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath all these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Bloe, J W, The Victoria History of the County of Warwickshire, (1947), 133
Salter, M, Castles and Moated Mansions of Warwickshire, (1992), 41
Fetherston-Dilke, C.B., A Short History of Maxstoke Castle and its Owners, (1983)
Fetherston-Dilke, C.B., A Short History of Maxstoke Castle and its Owners, (1983)
Warwickshire Sites and Monuments Record: Further Information,


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].