Motte and bailey castle and manorial complex at Groby


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010193

Date first listed: 26-Jun-1924

Date of most recent amendment: 03-Jul-1992


Ordnance survey map of Motte and bailey castle and manorial complex at Groby
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Leicestershire

District: Hinckley and Bosworth (District Authority)

Parish: Groby

National Grid Reference: SK 52398 07621


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

Reasons for Designation

Motte and bailey castles are medieval fortifications introduced into Britain by the Normans. They comprised a large conical mound of earth or rubble, the motte, surmounted by a palisade and a stone or timber tower. In a majority of examples an embanked enclosure containing additional buildings, the bailey, adjoined the motte. Motte castles and motte-and-bailey castles acted as garrison forts during offensive military operations, as strongholds, and, in many cases, as aristocratic residences and as centres of local or royal administration. Built in towns, villages and open countryside, motte and bailey castles generally occupied strategic positions dominating their immediate locality and, as a result, are the most visually impressive monuments of the early post-Conquest period surviving in the modern landscape. Over 600 motte castles or motte-and-bailey castles are recorded nationally, with examples known from most regions. As one of a restricted range of recognised early post-Conquest monuments, they are particularly important for the study of Norman Britain and the development of the feudal system. Although many were occupied for only a short period of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

The large motte at Groby is a good survival incorporating a rare substantial internal Norman stone building. The associated manorial complex is one of the most extensive in Leicestershire with a core considered to date to the period of the Norman castle. It also has associations with an important Leicestershire family.


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


The monument at Groby is situated on the north side of the village and includes a motte and the surviving part of the bailey, together with the remains, above and below ground, of a manorial complex.

The castle motte is situated on the north side of the site. It is oval in shape, 5-6m high with a flatish top and measures 38m from east-west and 25m north-south. To the east of the motte is a flat bailey area extending for 20m and enclosed by a ditch. The bailey ditch section survives for a length of 35m, is 15m wide and 2m deep. On its outer east side it has a slight outer bank 1m high. Excavations in advance of the by-pass road which now truncates the site on the north side revealed evidence that the motte had been built around a substantial stone building measuring 7m x 5m with walls standing at up to 2m high. The exact nature and function of this early building is not fully understood. The castle was built by Hugh de Grantmesnil towards the end of the 11th century. It was beseiged and eventually destroyed by Henry II in 1176. Subsequently the site was re-used as the location for a medieval manorial complex. Extant and below ground ruins of this manor survive in the area to the south of the motte, some incorporated into the buildings of Old Hall which now occupy the site. The most visible ruined wall not incorporated into later buildings extends for some 15m south-eastwards from the churchyard wall which lies to the west of the monument. This ruined wall stands 2m high and within its fabric are the remains of a doorway and window as well as part of a supporting buttress. This wall is shown on a map dated 1757 as extending towards the end of the surviving building to the south-east known as the `tower' and is hence interpreted as the exterior wall of the southern range of the manorial complex. Further stretches of ruined walling also survive incorporated into modern garden walls in the area to the south of the motte. There are known to be the remains of other manorial buildings within the immediate area and, further research may show the complex to extend further. This medieval manor is thought to have been established soon after the abandonment of the motte and bailey. A chapel is mentioned in 1343 which a description of 1371 calls the `olde chapel' and is also depicted on the map of 1757, (the present church was built on a new site in 1840). Other buildings mentioned in early sources include a cloister, a long house called a sheepcote and a dovecote. The present Groby Old Hall, built in stone, was the home of the Greys before 1446. It was extended in bri-ck in the late 15th century. The buildings of the Old Hall are listed grade II* and are excluded from the scheduling together with all pathways and modern walls, other than those incorporating medieval fabric. The ground beneath all these features is included in the scheduling.

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: 17066

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Farnham, G F, The Charnwood Manors, (1928), 211
Pevsner, N, Williamson, E, The Buildings of England: Leicestershire and Rutland, (1984), 170

End of official listing