Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:


© Crown Copyright and database right 2021. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2021. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1070451.pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 06-May-2021 at 01:23:38.


Statutory Address:

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

Tonbridge and Malling (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:


HADLOW HIGH STREET (south side) TQ 63 49 7/84 Hadlow Tower, Hadlow Castle 17.4.51


Tower, part of the remains of Hadlow Castle, a large Gothick house of late C18 origins. Tower begun 1838 (lantern added in 1840) for Walter Barton May to the designs of George Ledwell Taylor (Thirsk); modelled in part on William Beckford's 1812 tower (collapsed 1825) at Fonthill, Wiltshire, designed by James Wyatt. Rendered brick to imitate stone with the finer architectural detail and decoration built up in the Roman cement render. Gothick.

Plan: The tower was added at the south east corner of the original house (built by May's-father) with the stable courtyard to its north east. The main house was dismantled in 1951: what is left today is the stable courtyard, converted to housing, with the tower in the south east corner linked to the courtyard buildings by a freestanding wall, formerly the west wall of the house. Tower octagonal on plan with a circular stair turrett adjoining at the south west and a doorway on the north face. A lower, rectangular tower adjoins at the west. The original function of the main tower, beyond advertising the wealth and architectural ambition of the family, is obscure. The interior is relatively plain, especially when comapred with the lavish Interior of the house. It does not appear to have been heated originally and the smaller tower, between it and the house, was used as accommodation for men servants prior to 1951 (Thirsk).

Exterior: An extraordinary landmark, especially in the flat Hadlow landscape. 170 feet high, plus the lantern and covered with quite delicate Gothick detail in Roman cement, becoming progressively more elaborate on the upper stages. Slender 3-tier gabled projections to each of the cardinal faces with diagonal buttresses, steep gables and tall crocketted pinnacles. The 3-stage stair turret has a pierced parapet and lancet window. The stages of the tower are marked by string courses of various designs, some enriched with fleurons. The faces of the tower are divided by buttresses which rise above the pierced parapet as tall pinnacles with gabled crocketted pinnacles. Tall, buttressed, pinnacled lantern largely obscured by scaffolding at time of survey (1988). Various tall, Gothick windows, matching on each stage. The lower stage windows are 2-light and transomed with flamboyant tracery and moulded architraves with engaged shafts with capitals; incised crosses above the windows and, above them, a string course with a tier of engaged battlementing. The second stage also has 2-light transomed windows with quatrefoil windows above. Similar, narrower windows to the third stage with pairs of lancets above. The fourth stage has smaller transomed windows, each wall face covered in blind arcading in 2 tiers. The fifth stage also has 2 tiers of decoration, the lower tier trefoil-headed arcading, some blind, some glazed, the upper tier decorated with blind tracery and incorporating corbelled projections. Some of the Roman cement detail has fallen away. The gabled projections each have 2 tiers of tall lancet windows with moulded architraves, the embrasures filled with cusped lattice with traceried windows just below the gables. The north projection has a very tall, chamfered 2-centred doorway. The adjoining 4-storey servants' tower is embattled with a rounded projecting stair turret at the north west and various Gothick windows: lancets, 2-centred with cusped Y tracery and timber flamboyant traceried windows in square-headed embrasures.

Interior: Plain by comparison with the exterior but preserving some original doors with applied Gothick panelling. A remarkable example of ambitious Gothick design and an outstanding landscape feature.

The May family was essentially local and sum of the wealth used on the tower may have derived from hop-growing (Thirsk).

Thirsk, Joan. Hadlow Castle: A Short History (1985).

Listing NGR: TQ6341949639


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Thirsk, J, Hadlow Castle A Short History, (1985)


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 03 Oct 2002
Reference: IOE01/08545/27
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Geoffrey Farrow. Source Historic England Archive
Archive image, may not represent current condition of site.
To view this image please use Firefox, Chrome, Safari, or Edge.

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].