A quadrangular castle and 16th/17th century manor house known as Old Scotney Castle, set in a 19th century landscaped garden


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1009005

Date first listed: 14-Jul-1933

Date of most recent amendment: 16-Nov-1994


Ordnance survey map of A quadrangular castle and 16th/17th century manor house known as Old Scotney Castle, set in a 19th century landscaped garden
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Kent

District: Tunbridge Wells (District Authority)

Parish: Lamberhurst

National Grid Reference: TQ 68938 35229


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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.

Old Scotney Castle is a good example of an earlier, medieval monument adapted as a manorial residence in the Tudor period, and as landscaped ruins in the Victorian period. Despite some disturbance by modern gardening and landscaping, it survives well. Although few of the buildings of the quadrangular castle remain upstanding, much of their original extent will survive below ground in buried form. These remains will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed. More of the manor house remains upstanding, and one wing, a Grade I Listed Building, survives almost intact. The adaptation of the typical manor house form of the Tudor period to fit within the confines of the quadrangular castle is of architectural interest. The transformation of the old castle remains and Tudor manor house in the early Victorian period into a picturesque ruin within a landscaped garden visible from the new country house, is also of interest. It offers a good and late example of the widespread 18th and early 19th century phenomenon of Romantic Antiquarianism - the creation of an attractive, managed `wilderness' around the focus of a deliberately ruined building.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes three adjacent islands set in a moat within a former loop of the River Bewl. On the more northerly island are the remains of a quadrangular castle built around 1377-80 for Roger Ashburnham, of which one, round, corner tower (roofed and incorporated within the 16th century wing of a manor house), sections of the curtain wall and the base of the gatehouse are still standing. These remains are Listed Grade I. The second island lies to the south west and was originally connected to the main island by a defensible bridge. This ancillary island supported stables and other service buildings, now surviving as ruins and buried remains. Nothing is recorded on the third island, apart from some recent statuary, however it is suggested that this island may be more recent. Old Scotney Castle has an unusual arrangement, because most castles of this type were constructed on a single, moated island.

The castle was extensively remodelled in the late 16th and early 17th centuries to form a stone and half-timbered manorial residence, of which the south wing survives as a roofed building and is in use as a museum. The remainder of the castle and its outbuildings on the second island were landscaped into ruins and gardens when the new Scotney Castle was built on an overlooking hillside to the north west for Edward Hussey in c.1840. At this time, parts of the manor house range were taken down in such a way as to retain features of decorative interest and to increase the romantic character of the scene. Some brick-built, garden walling survives from this phase, and the third, small island, on which a Henry Moore sculpture is now sited, may also originate from the 19th century landscaping. In recent years, the gatehouse has been rebuilt, and a modern brick buttress inserted inside the north west corner of the ruined wing of the manor house. A lean-to, one-storey store has also been built against a free-standing wall of the ruined wing. Excluded from the scheduling are, on the main island, the roofed, south wing of the manor house, currently used as a museum and best protected by listing; the three modern walls of the single storey, lean-to building built against a freestanding wall of the ruined portion of the manor house; the surfaces of the modern paths and the imported well-head ornament and other imported statuary; the Henry Moore sculpture and its plinth on the most south westerly island is also excluded, although the ground beneath all these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


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

Legacy System number: 24400

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
The National Trust, , Scotney Castle, (1992)
The National Trust, , Scotney Castle, (1992)

End of official listing