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