Broughton Castle: fortified house and moat


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020968

Date first listed: 16-Jul-2003


Ordnance survey map of Broughton Castle: fortified house and moat
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Oxfordshire

District: Cherwell (District Authority)

Parish: Broughton

National Grid Reference: SP 41790 38198


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

Reasons for Designation

Fortified houses were residences belonging to some of the richest and most powerful members of society. Their design reflects a combination of domestic and military elements. In some instances, the fortifications may be cosmetic additions to an otherwise conventional high status dwelling, giving a military aspect while remaining practically indefensible. They are associated with individuals or families of high status and their ostentatious architecture often reflects a high level of expenditure. The nature of the fortification varies, but can include moats, curtain walls, a gatehouse and other towers, gunports and crenellated parapets. Their buildings normally included a hall used as communal space for domestic and administrative purposes, kitchens, service and storage areas. In later houses the owners had separate private living apartments, these often receiving particular architectural emphasis. In common with castles, some fortified houses had outer courts beyond the main defences in which stables, brew houses, granaries and barns were located. Fortified houses were constructed in the medieval period, primarily between the 15th and 16th centuries, although evidence from earlier periods, such as the increase in the number of licences to crenellate in the reigns of Edward I and Edward II, indicates that the origins of the class can be traced further back. They are found primarily in several areas of lowland England: in upland areas they are outnumbered by structures such as bastles and tower houses which fulfilled many of the same functions. As a rare monument type, with fewer than 200 identified examples, all examples exhibiting significant surviving archaeological remains are considered of national importance.

Broughton Castle is a fine example of a late medieval fortified house, exhibiting a range of both typical and more unusual alterations and additions relating to changing fashions and technology. The castle is well-documented and is known to have played an important role in a number of historical events including the Parliamentarian intrigues prior to the English Civil War. Despite having been besieged at this time it suffered little damage and the structure and grounds have subsequently escaped many of the modernisations to which similar sites have been subjected. For these reasons buried archaeological remains of the earlier house as well as its ancillary buildings and gardens can be expected to survive well. This evidence will provide insights into the organisation and daily life of the inhabitants of this site and similar ones which have not survived. In addition, recent temporary lowering of the water level in the moat has demonstrated the survival of substantial archaeological remains relating to the earlier appearance of the monument.


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


The monument includes the site of a moated and fortified manor house, largely 14th century with 16th century additions. The site, known as Broughton Castle, lies in a small valley at the intersection of a west to east flowing stream and the old Banbury road, approximately 4km south of Banbury. Broughton Castle is located within a small park which is included in the Register of Parks and Gardens. The park also contains a large rabbit warren complex which is the subject of a separate scheduling. The house was first built in the early 14th century and and it is believed to have been built for Sir John of Broughton who died in 1315. The original fortified house included a large hall of traditional plan with the private apartments at one end and the kitchens and ancillary rooms at the other. The house is situated on a large island measuring some 120m from east to west and approximately 134m from north to south. This is enclosed by a broad moat measuring from approximately 19m wide to over 35m wide at its greatest, present extent. Stonework in the moat, visible when the water level is lowered, indicates that it was originally more regular in width with angled corners (rather than the slightly rounded appearance seen today) forming an octagonal plan. The moat was originally crossed at two places, one being the site of the present bridge and gatehouse, located at roughly the centre of the northern arm, facing the Church of St Mary. The original gatehouse in this position is believed to have been rebuilt in the late 14th century, probably by Bishop William of Wykeham who bought the manor in 1377. The later gatehouse still stands, although partially rebuilt. It had no portcullis but was provided with a drawbridge which was later removed when a permanent bridge was built. The second crossing point was in the south eastern corner of the moat spanning the eastern arm. This bridge is no longer standing although stone footings are clearly visible in the side of the moat just below the water line. Stonework visible in the corner of the island at this point probably indicates the foundations of some form of gatehouse or postern gate associated with this entrance. In the mid-16th century Richard Fiennes, Lord Saye and Sele, extended the original house to provide a more contemporary and comfortable Elizabethan mansion. However, much of the earlier house was incorporated into the remodelling. The range of original buildings, including the kitchen at the western end, were partially demolished and their foundations lie below the present structure. Surrounding the house, to the north and west, were large gardens enclosed within the boundary created by the moat. These included kitchen and herb gardens, areas of lawn and courtyards with stables. The original open court and ancillary buildings lie partially beneath the 16th century kitchen wing at the eastern end of the house. Beyond the moat substantial foundations along the outer bank are believed to represent the remains of external crenellated walls. These may only have been built on the northern side and along part of the east and west moat arms in order to enhance the visual appearance and grandeur of the approach from the north. Broughton Castle was the centre of many Parliamentarian meetings prior to and during the English Civil War, and it later suffered a brief siege although the garrison surrendered before any major damage occurred. The house, the gatehouse and the stable block, which are all Listed Grade I, all modern gravel path surfaces, ornamental garden walls and later features 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. It includes a 5 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: 30882

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
'Medieval Archaeology' in Broughton Castle, , Vol. 40, (1966), p 277

End of official listing