Kingsbury Hall: a medieval enclosure castle and post-medieval house
- 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 21404 96323
Reasons for Designation
An enclosure castle is a defended residence or stronghold, built mainly of
stone, in which the principal or sole defence comprises the walls and towers
bounding the site. Some form of keep may have stood within the enclosure but
this was not significant in defensive terms and served mainly to provide
accommodation. Larger sites might have more than one line of walling and there
are normally mural towers and gatehouses. Outside the walls a ditch, either
waterfilled or dry, crossed by bridges may be found. The first enclosure
castles were constructed at the time of the Norman Conquest. However, they
developed considerably in form during the 12th century when defensive
experience gained during the Crusades was applied to their design. The
majority of examples were constructed in the 13th century although a few were
built as late as the 14th century. Some represent reconstructions of earlier
medieval earthwork castles of the motte and bailey type, although others were
new creations. They provided strongly defended residences for the king or
leading families and occur in both urban and rural situations. Enclosure
castles are widely dispersed throughout England, with a slight concentration
in Kent and Sussex supporting a vulnerable coast, and a strong concentration
along the Welsh border where some of the best examples were built under Edward
I. They are rare nationally with only 126 recorded examples. Considerable
diversity of form is exhibited with no two examples being exactly alike. With
other castle types, 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 with respect to wider aspects of medieval society. All examples
retaining significant remains of medieval date are considered to be nationally
The medieval enclosure castle at Kingsbury Hall survives well as a series of standing remains and buried deposits. The buried remains will preserve valuable evidence of the layout, construction and subsequent alterations to the complex. Established and maintained by one well-known family over a period of 400 years, it will contribute to an understanding of the development of a high status component of the medieval and post-medieval landscape.
The monument includes the standing and buried remains of the medieval
enclosure castle known as Kingsbury Hall, including a curtain wall and a
house, occupying a bluff overlooking the River Tame. In 1086 land at Kingsbury
was held by Countess Godiva and later was in the hands of the king. In 1208 it
passed to John de Bracebridge, and the manor subsequently descended via the de
Bracebridge family. In the mid-16th century the manor house was leased to Sir
Ambrose Cave, passing to the Willoughby family in the late 16th century and
subsequently to the Astons. In the 19th century it became part of Sir Robert
Peel's estate. Alterations and additions were made during the 17th, 18th and
19th centuries, and the house remained in occupation until the 20th century.
The house was formerly part of a larger complex of buildings enclosed by the
The curtain wall includes standing remains to the south and east thought to
date from the 14th century. The walls are constructed of coursed sandstone,
and measure about 1.5m in width, standing up to 5.5m high with a semi-
octagonal tower located at the south east angle. The east curtain wall
measures approximately 28m in length with an arched gateway, about 3m in
width, located about halfway along the length of the wall, which is thought
to have provided the principal access to the complex. Repairs to the fabric on
the external face of the wall around the gateway suggest the former presence
of a gatehouse. It is believed that the east wall extended further to the
north and will survive as a buried feature. The tower at the south east angle
measures about 4.5m in width with a quarter octagonal turret on the west side
accommodating a garderobe. The south curtain wall measures approximately 21m
in length and includes, at the west end, the remains of a second tower, also
accommodating a garderobe. The south curtain wall is believed to have
originally extended to the west, as far as the bluff overlooking the river,
and will survive as a buried feature. The curtain wall and gateway are Listed
The three-storey house is built chiefly in sandstone and includes a block of
three adjoining ranges, two aligned east-west and one north-south dating from
the late 15th or early 16th century, with a post-medieval wing extending
at right angles to the north. It is a Listed Building Grade II*. The roof is
of tile and slate. The southern range, aligned east-west, measures
approximately 23m by 8m. The west gable wall of this range was rebuilt in
brick in the 18th century. The south wall includes rectangular windows with
stone mouldings, some blocked with brick and some having later windows built
into the original openings; near the east end of the wall is a chimney stack
of stone and brick. On the east wall repairs have been made to the fabric
which indicate the position of a former porch that provided access to the
first floor; the two windows flanking the former porch are now blocked with
brick or boards. At the second, or attic, floor there is a four-light stone
mullioned window with a central transom.
Adjoining the north side of this range is another, parallel range measuring
approximately 12m by 8m. The western end of this range, which projects 3m
beyond that of the south range, is stone-built with a curved gable head,
thought to date from the late 16th or early 17th century. The gable wall
includes a window on each floor; the window at ground floor level is blocked
with boards and the upper storeys have stone mullioned windows. The north wall
of this range includes a stone window with a later, 19th century window built
into the original opening, and 19th century windows set in brick.
Attached to the eastern end of this range is a third, smaller range, measuring
9m by 5.5m and aligned north-south. The north gable wall has a doorway and
window on the ground floor, a 19th century window inserted into a partly
blocked stone window on the first floor and a four-light stone mullioned
window on the attic floor, together with a two-light stone window at eaves
level where the two ranges join. A doorway in the east wall of this range
leads to an internal curving oak stair providing the only access to the attic
floor of all three ranges.
The late 18th century or early 19th century wing, which adjoins the north west
part of the house, measures approximately 8.5m by 6m and provides
accommodation on two floors. It is built principally in brick with an east
wall of regularly coursed stone blocks. The east wall includes a stone and
brick chimney stack and there are windows in each of the external walls.
Access to the wing is provided internally from the west end of the north
Internally the ground floors of the three ranges are provided with domestic
accommodation. On the first floor of the south range there is one large room,
about 13m in length, thought to represent the original main hall, which was
later subdivided, with a 16th century fireplace provided towards the east end.
A further two chambers, both provided with fireplaces, are located at the west
end of the south range. In the north range the first floor includes domestic
accommodation, provided with fireplaces, and including a 17th century oak
partition. The attic floor accommodation includes a single room, running the
length of the southern range, with exposed beams, and a parallel, shorter room
in the north range with a fireplace.
The house was originally part of a larger complex, bounded by the curtain
wall, with ancillary buildings believed to have been located within the
enclosure to the south east of the house. A wall constructed of coursed
blocks of sandstone runs from the south east corner of the house to the south
curtain wall and is thought to have been part of this complex. The remains of
former ancillary buildings will survive as buried features.
All fences, storage tanks and modern brick outbuildings are excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath them 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:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Salzman, LF (ed), The Victoria History of the County of Warwickshire: Volume IV, (1947), 100-105
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