Starborough Castle


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


Ordnance survey map of Starborough Castle
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Tandridge (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TQ 42595 44091

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.

Although the medieval buildings of Starborough Castle have been dismantled, the monument retains significant evidence for its original form, including the moat and in situ foundations and masonry. The castle also represents the 18th and 19th century phenomenon of Romantic Antiquarianism, involving the remodelling and reuse of an earlier, medieval structure as the focus of a landscaped garden.


The monument includes a quadrangular castle situated within a sandstone valley on the southern side of the River Eden, around 3km to the south west of Edenbridge. The castle buildings, which were constructed upon a roughly square, artificial island of 0.8ha, survive mainly in the form of buried foundations and associated archaeological remains. Documentary evidence and a 17th century engraving suggest that the castle buildings were faced with sandstone ashlar and ranged around a central courtyard. The outer defences included a high curtain wall with projecting, circular corner towers. Surrounding the island is a water-filled, roughly square moat up to 25m wide. Modern drainage and service trenches have caused some disturbance to the moat, although original, in situ masonry survives within its coursed sandstone lining. The moat walling is Listed Grade II*. Access to the island was by way of a now dismantled central bridge over the southern arm of the moat, traces of the foundations of which were discovered during the construction of a replacement bridge in 1984. Most of the original castle buildings have been dated to 1341, when the then owner, Lord Cobham, was granted licence to crenellate his residence at Starborough. The monument is recorded as one of the places of captivity of the Duke of Orleans after the battle of Agincourt in 1415. The castle was dismantled by order of the Parliamentary government in 1648, when it was feared that it could be used as a focus for Royalist resistance. During the 18th century the monument was remodelled and reused as an ornamental landscape feature, forming part of the grounds of the adjacent country house. The level of the central island was significantly raised and landscaped, and in 1754, the then owner, Sir James Burrow, built a Gothic style garden house of dressed sandstone within its north eastern corner. This building is Listed Grade II*. The building material included some reused medieval masonry originating from the earlier castle buildings. The moat, island and garden house underwent renovation during the 1980s and now form part of a separate residence. The garden house and its associated outbuildings, all modern paving, garden structures, modern walling and fencing, the modern surface of the driveway and the modern stone bridge are excluded from the scheduling, 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:
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Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County, (1912), 302
British Museum (copy with owner), Hollar, Wenceslas , Starborough Castle, (1640)


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

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