Pengersick Castle and associated building platform


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1021407

Date first listed: 10-Aug-1923

Date of most recent amendment: 09-Dec-2009


Ordnance survey map of Pengersick Castle and associated building platform
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Breage

National Grid Reference: SW 58190 28414, SW 58262 28474


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.

Despite alterations, Pengersick Castle and the associated building platform survive very well and will contain significant archaeological and architectural information relating to their development and use. Archaeological investigations over the years have confirmed that much information remains below the present day ground surface.


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


The monument includes the below ground remains associated with Pengersick Castle and an associated building platform protected within two areas. The castle and platform sit within a shallow basin on a south facing slope overlooking the English Channel. The building platform, located to the north east of the castle, probably represents the site of a large dwelling, confirmed by geophysical survey, which was abandoned when the adjacent castle was constructed in the early part of the 16th century. The platform survives as a 33m long by 19m wide levelled area cut into the hillside and may date to the 14th century or earlier. Pengersick Castle itself included a substantial mansion associated with a tower, two courtyards and a range of service buildings including a chapel, stables and gatehouse. The tower is the most visually impressive of the surviving structures and is a Listed Building Grade I, which is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath is included. The gatehouse stands to the north of the original entrance into the western courtyard and is Listed Grade II* along with the shippon which overlies the site of the mansion whose position and character are known from early antiquarian drawings. The mansion was situated north of the tower and was aligned north to south. It is known to have had a very fine east facing porch and information relating to this building will survive as buried archaeology. The gatehouse and shippon are excluded from the scheduling, but the ground beneath is included. The southern edge of the western courtyard is known from archaeological investigations. The eastern courtyard was denoted by a range of buildings linked to the tower and mansion by two separate lengths of walling. External entry to this courtyard was limited to a single passage leading through the eastern side adjacent to the stables, whilst there was also access from the house and tower. The stables situated along the eastern and south eastern edges of the courtyard were subsequently converted into farm buildings and ultimately into a dwelling. These buildings are Listed Grade II and are excluded from the scheduling, but the ground beneath is included. A single building is known to have existed against the northern wall of the eastern courtyard and this has been identified as a chapel. Partial excavation in this area revealed window glass and lead cames believed to be late medieval in date. Considerable quantities of documentary evidence survive relating to both Pengersick and the people who lived there. A number of early 13th century individuals are named de Pengersick, but many of them may have come from the adjacent hamlet. By the start of the 14th century a Henry Lord of Pengrysek was in control of the estate and he may have been responsible for building the first defended house on the site now represented by the building platform to the north east of the later castle. The owners of Pengersick played a major role in the Cornish social scene and politics with for example John of Pengersick being granted the capteynshippe of St Michael's Mount in 1522. There is considerable debate concerning who was responsible for building the new mansion, tower and courtyards which were to become known as Pengersick Castle. The accepted sequence of events is that the mansion and courtyards were built in the early part of the 16th century after Pengersick passed through marriage into the Millaton family. Finally, the tower was added by a William Millaton in the mid 16th century shortly before his death and the breakup of the estate following the premature death of his son and its partition between six daughters. The partition of the estate was followed by a period in which the mansion and tower were occupied only as an occasional residence by tenants and finally sometime in the 17th century it was abandoned and by the early 18th century was largely uninhabitable. In subsequent years, some of the ruinous buildings were robbed for building stone and some converted into barns and other farm buildings. Finally during the 20th century some of these farm buildings together with some parts of the castle were converted into dwellings. All dwellings, roofed buildings, modern surfaces and garden features are excluded from the scheduling, but the ground beneath 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: 36039

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Herring, P et al, Pengersick, Breage - An archaeological and historical assessment, (1998)
Johns, C, Pengersick Castle, Breage, Cornwall Archaeological recording, (2001)

End of official listing