Chartley Castle, Chartley Old Hall and associated water control systems including garden remains


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
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Ordnance survey map of Chartley Castle, Chartley Old Hall and associated water control systems including garden remains
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This copy shows the entry on 16-Jun-2019 at 04:12:38.


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

Stafford (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SK 00911 28690, SK 01192 28617

Reasons for Designation

Motte and bailey castles are medieval fortifications introduced into widespread use in Britain by the Normans. They include a large conical mound of earth or rubble, the motte, surmounted by a palisade and a stone or timber tower and an embanked enclosure containing additional buildings, the bailey, adjoining the motte. In many cases motte and bailey castles were aristocratic residences and the centres of local or royal administration. Between the Conquest and the mid 13th century a number of motte and bailey castles were remodelled in stone. The timber defences of the motte and bailey castle were replaced by a curtain wall and towers to form an enclosure castle. Although over 600 motte castles and motte and bailey castles are recorded nationally, examples converted into enclosure castles are less common and one of a restricted range of recognised post-Conquest monuments. They are particularly important for the study of Norman Britain and the development of the feudal system. In view of this, all surviving examples will normally be identified as nationally important. Chartley Castle survives well and is one of the best examples of both types of castle in Staffordshire. Important structural and artefactual information will exist beneath the ground surface within the castle enclosure providing evidence for the two major periods of construction at Chartley Castle and for the economy of the castle's inhabitants. The first watermills in Britain were used for grinding corn and this purpose remained by far the most widespread use of waterpower. By 1086 there were over 5600 corn mills in England, most of them south and east of the Rivers Trent and Severn. The siting of ponds upstream of mills ensured there was an adequate supply of water to the waterwheel all year round. The two watermill sites at Chartley survive in a good condition and derive importance from their location within the castle and mansion complex. The siting of the watermills, adjacent to Chartley Castle, illustrates well the influence and control exercised by the aristocracy on manorial watermills during the medieval period. Around 6000 moated sites are known in England. They consist of wide ditches, often seasonally waterfilled, partly or completely enclosing one or more islands on which stood domestic or religious buildings. The majority of moated sites served as prestigious aristocratic and seigneurial residences with the provision of the moat intended as a status symbol rather than a practical military defence. Moated sites form a significant class of medieval monument and exhibit a high level of diversity in their form and size. Chartley Old Hall is a good example of an early Renaissance moated site. The moated island will retain considerable structural and artefactual evidence of the original manor house, and its successors, known to have existed here since the late 15th century. Additionally, organic material will be preserved within the waterlogged moat ditches. The importance of the site is further enhanced by its clear archaeological relationship with its predecessor - Chartley Castle and by the survival of detailed documentary records. Gardens have been a feature of important houses since at least Roman times, if not earlier, but in the 16th century gardens became larger and more formal. Recurring features were terraces, ponds and canals, and in the design of these there was a continuous interplay between social inspirations, artistic aims and changing fashions. The earthwork remains of such gardens are important archaeological features illustrating their recreational and ornamental function and of course, the scale of investment in time and money. The garden earthworks at Chartley are of the less common `water garden' type. They survive well and are directly associated with Chartley Old Hall. They provide evidence of the wealth and social status of the occupants of Chartley Old Hall and illustrate how medieval industrial features could be adapted for leisure purposes. Taken as a whole, the monument at Chartley is a rare example, in Staffordshire, of a high status site which has been continuously occupied since the 11th century. The archaeological features of Chartley Castle, Chartley Old Hall, its gardens and the associated water control features not only provide important evidence for the history and occupation of Chartley but also illustrate how the same piece of landscape could be adapted for a sequence of different purposes in the medieval and post-medieval periods.


The monument is situated approximately 1km north west of the village of Stowe-by-Chartley and has two separate areas. It includes the standing and buried remains of Chartley Castle and the moated site of Chartley Old Hall with its associated garden earthworks. The monument also includes parts of an associated water management system, the earthwork remains of two watermills, a trackway, a hollow way and an area of ridge and furrow cultivation. Chartley Castle is situated in a commanding position on the natural escarpment of a small ridge running east to west. It is primarily a motte and double bailey castle which was altered in the early 13th century to form an enclosure castle, the standing remains of which are Listed Grade II* and included in the scheduling. The castle is surrounded and strengthened by a dry ditch which measures up to 18m wide, beyond which, is a counterscarp bank. The motte is located at the western end of the castle and, although on a natural high point, it has been artificially raised. It has a diameter of 46m at its base and is separated from the bailey by a 10m wide ditch. The bailey to the east is divided into inner and outer enclosures by a ditch which measures approximately 24m wide. The two enclosures vary both in size and form. The inner contains an area of 0.25ha and is rectangular in plan while the outer bailey measures 60m square, an area of approximately 0.35ha. Access to the motte and bailey is currently by means of a causeway at the south eastern edge of the outer bailey which may mark the site of the original entrance. Access to the inner bailey was originally through a gatehouse, with two drum towers, on its eastern side. In the early 13th century a stone keep and a curtain wall with projecting towers, all built of ashlar with a rubble core, were added to the earthworks of Chartley Castle by the Earl of Chester. The motte is surmounted by a circular keep with an internal diameter of 10.7m and walls which are 3.7m thick. It now stands to a height of up to 3m and has been partly restored in brick. At the north eastern edge of the keep are the remains of a projecting semicircular stair turret, 6m in diameter. The inner bailey has been strengthened by a curtain wall with five projecting towers. The curtain wall is best preserved along the southern side of the inner bailey, although it is in a ruined state. Here two semicircular towers stand, up to 10m high in places. There are three semicircular towers situated at the eastern edge of the bailey. The two towers at the south eastern corner formed the gatehouse between the two baileys and a further three-quarter round tower survives in a greatly ruined state at the north eastern corner of the bailey. Although there is no surface evidence to indicate the presence of stone towers along the northern side of the inner bailey, such towers probably existed. However, the lack of visible remains of a curtain wall encompassing the outer bailey probably indicates that the defences here were of timber. Approximately 50m north of Chartley Castle are the earthwork remains of two large ponds formed behind earthwork dams built across the valley of the Amerton Brook. The western pond, which is known as Castle Pool, is now dry and its dam is 3m high. At the southern end of the dam are the remains of a platform for a watermill building. The pond formed behind this dam would have originally been at least 200m by 100m, but only a 10m wide sample area of the deposits formed on the floor of the pond is included within the scheduling adjacent to the dam. The dam behind which the eastern pond was formed has been lowered in height at its northern end, but it stands to a height of 2m at its southern end. Here, also, are the earthwork remains of a platform for a watermill. The eastern earthwork dam, the platform for the mill building and its associated water system, and a sample section of the floor of the adjacent pond area are protected within a second area. There is no surface evidence of the mill buildings on either dam but remains will survive as buried features beneath the ground surface. The mill leats and tail races for the watermills are visible as shallow linear depressions on the ground surface adjacent to the two mill platforms. A trackway with slight outer banks is visible to the south west of the western mill platform which can be traced as an earthwork running southwards to the north eastern corner of Chartley Castle. At the northern edge of the castle the trackway turns eastwards and follows the line of the ditch which forms the northern defences of the castle. The trackway relates Chartley Castle to the site of the western watermill, and provides interconnecting stratigraphic links between the archaeological deposits on both sites. To the south, south west and south east of Chartley Castle are the extensive earthwork remains of ridge and furrow cultivation. The ridge and furrow respects the castle defences and the relationship between the castle and the ridge and furrow illustrates the impact the castle had on land use in the surrounding area. A hollow way forming the original entrance to Chartley Hall and running east-west, parallel to the southern edge of Chartley Castle, crosses the ridge and furrow fields. A 40m wide sample area of ridge and furrow and a 100m long section of the hollow way are included within the scheduling in recognition of these relationships. Ridge and furrow is also visible to the east of the castle, but it has been disturbed by later activity and is not included within the scheduling. The moated site of Chartley Old Hall is situated 100m north west of Chartley Castle. The waterfilled moat is approximately 12m wide on its northern, western and southern sides and its eastern arm projects 100m eastwards to form a pond area. There are two small circular islands within the eastern arm of the moat. Massive earthwork retaining banks are visible on the northern, western and southern edges of the moat, measuring up to 10m wide. The retaining banks have levelled upper surfaces and were used as trackways and garden walkways at earlier periods. The moat is currently fed by a stream which enters the moat at its north eastern corner and by a second stream approaching from the north. There are outlet channels at the north western corner of the moat and through the southern retaining bank. The moated island measures approximately 94m square and the ground surface of the south eastern part of the island is slightly lower than that to the west. An engraving of c.1686 provides evidence of the plan and design of the original mansion on the moated island. The house included three ranges of buildings constructed around a central open courtyard. The northern part of the island is approximately 0.5m higher than the rest and the foundations of the north wing of the house will survive as buried features. The south western part of the island is now partly occupied by the present Chartley Hall, built in the mid 19th century. Access onto the moated island is currently by means of a bridge across the southern arm of the moat and by two footbridges across the eastern and northern arms. Beyond the north eastern corner of the northern bank of the moat surrounding Chartley Old Hall are the earthwork remains of a series of water control features through which both of the feeder streams originally passed, before entering the main moat. These features are all now dry and have been partly re-shaped and infilled along their eastern side. They include a major leat which follows the contour along the northern edge of the earthworks. The leat originates at the northern end of the Castle Pool dam and was, evidently, the major source of water supply for the system. Leading off this leat, downslope to the south, is a complex series of rectangular ponds which are interconnected by leats and channels. These earthworks probably represent the remains of an ornamental water garden and its associated walks and parterres and would have been part of the layout of Chartley Old Hall in the 16th century. Approximately 160m north east of these earthworks is a second moated site known as Daffodil Wood which is likely to be related to the garden layout. The moated site in Daffodil Wood is the subject of a separate scheduling. Chartley belonged to the Earls of Chester from the end of the 11th century and it is to this period that the original motte and bailey castle with its timber defences should be dated. The re-building of the castle in stone by Ranulph, Earl of Chester, was underway in 1223. After Ranulph's death, Chartley Castle passed to the Earl's brother-in-law, William de Ferrers. By 1485 Chartley Castle had been abandoned and the newly constructed moated mansion of Chartley Old Hall had been built by Walter Devereux, Baron Ferrers, as the main residence of the Ferrers family. In 1545 Leland described the castle as a ruin. Chartley Old Hall was visited by Elizabeth I in 1575, and Mary, Queen of Scots was held captive here in 1585-6. The first house within the moat perished by fire in 1781, as did a smaller one, built upon the same site, and this was replaced in 1847 by the present hall. The present Chartley Hall, the surfaces of all paths and drive-ways, the modern walls, stone steps and garden urns which are situated on the moated island, the bridges across the moat and all fence posts are excluded from the scheduling; the modern sluices which are situated within the northern arm of the moat, the brick and concrete channels for the stream at the southern ends of the retaining banks for the two large ponds and the hydraulic ram to the north of the western retaining bank are also excluded; the ground beneath Chartley Hall and all these features, however, 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:
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Books and journals
Plot, R, The Natural History of Staffordshire, (1686), 93
Salter, M, Castles and Moated Mansions of Staffordshire and West Midlands, (1989), 17
Salter, M, Castles and Moated Mansions of Staffordshire and West Midlands, (1989), 18
'Transactions of the North Staffordshire Field Club' in Chartley and Stowe, (1886), 36
Eyton, R W , 'Collections for a History of Staffordshire' in Chartley, , Vol. XII, NS, (1909), 1979
Eyton, R W , 'Collections for a History of Staffordshire' in Chartley, , Vol. XII, NS, (1909), 181
Eyton, R W , 'Collections for a History of Staffordshire' in Chartley, , Vol. XII, NS, (1909), 180
Scrivener, A, 'Transactions of the North Staffordshire Field Club' in Chartley Earthworks & Castle, , Vol. 39, (1905), 147
RCHME, SK02NW1, National Archaeological Record, (1987)
RCHME, SK02NW4, National Archaeological Record, (1983)


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