Heritage Category:
Listed Building
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Date first listed:
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Ordnance survey map of BARNWELL CASTLE
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Statutory Address:

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

East Northamptonshire (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TL 04917 85203


BARNWELL BARNWELL ST. ANDREW TL0485 20/18 Barnwell Castle GV I

Castle. Built about 1266 by Berenger Le Moyne; some building work may have taken place within the castle during C16. Squared coursed limestone with ashlar dressings. Rectangular plan of the concentric type with round corner towers of 2 stages. Entrance front, to east, has gate-house, to far left of curtain wall, with flanking semi-circular towers. Triple-chamfered gatearch, with pointed head and polygonal responds. Semi-circular, single-chamfered, inner doorway. Inside, the gatehouse has a pointed tunnel vault and grooves for a portcullis. Large square-head window opening above gatearch. Flanking towers have cross slits at ground floor and rectangular openings to upper level. Similar corner tower to left. North-east tower, to far right, is a trefoil arrangement of round towers. Cross slits to upper and lower stages. Blank curtain walls, between towers, on north and south elevations. West elevation to rear of entrance front has semi-circular south-west corner tower, to right, with a 2-light stone mullion window to the upper stage. Trefoil arrangement of round towers at north-west corner, to left. Centre linking tower of this arrangement is a narrower quadrant. Both corner towers have cross slits. Section of curtain wall, between towers, to left of centre, has been rebuilt. To the left of this section of wall is a postern gate with 2-centred arch head. The courtyard elevations have been stripped of their facing stone in certain areas. Elevation to rear of gatehouse has small doorways with semi-circular heads, giving access to gatehouse towers. Originally there was a square-head window opening above central gatearch. Small doorway, with semi-circular head, to right, gives access to south-east tower. - Similar doorways, set on an angle in the corners, give access to the other towers from the courtyard. Evidence of a fireplace, to right of the postern gate, was possibly also part of the domestic accommodation within the castle walls. Evidence of cross wall in east elevation of courtyard with traces of plaster recorded, was possibly also part of the domestic accommodation within the castle walls. The curtain walls are approximately 3.6 metres thick with the exception of the section in the west elevation which was rebuilt, which is approximately one metre thick. Interior: gatehouse towers each have 2 bays of single-chamfered rib vaults to ground floor. A rectangular chamber over the gateway was originally accessible from a flight of steps immediately north of the inner gatearch. The upper rooms of the gatehouse towers have square-head windows with an inner pointed arch. In the south-east tower are the remains of a pointed rib vault to the ground floor. In the south-west tower a staircase, off the entrance passage, gives access to a square room above which has a 2-light stone mullion window and a fireplace. A further room over this chamber also had a fireplace and a window. In the north-east and north-west towers the centre towers of the trefoil arrangement contained the spiral-staircase. The north-east tower also has a garderobe chute. The towers and curtain walls were originally probably higher and would have had a castellated parapet. The building date of 1266 is derived from a Jury statement of 1276 which records that Berenger Le Moyne had built a castle 10 years earlier. The Rector of Barnwell also agreed in 1257 to there being a Chapel at Barnwell Castle. An inquiry discovered that no licence had been obtained to build the castle, and Berenger le Moyne had to return the Manor to the Abbotts of Ramsey who held it before 1120, and with whom it remained until the dissolution. It was then granted to Chief Justice Sir Edmund Montagu, In 1540 Leyland describes "the meane house of a farmer" in the castle. Camden writing in 1586 mentions the "little castle which now of late Sir Edmund Monacute hath of late repaired and beautified with new buildings". It is unclear whether this statement refers to C16 domestic buildings within the castle, of which there is suggested evidence, or the house now known as Barnwell Manor (q.v.). The castle was probably used as a farmyard during C18 and C19 with access through the break in the west curtain wall. Barnwell Castle passed from the Duke of Buccleuch's estate in 1913 and was sold in 1938 to Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester. Barnwell Castle is scheduled as an Ancient Monument. (Barnwell Manor gardens are included in the H.B.M.C.E. Register of Gardens at grade II. Buildings of England: Northamptonshire: p101; Hussey, C.: Country Life, September 10 1959: p238-241, and September 17 1959: p298-301; VCH: Northamptonshire, Vol 3: p71; Traylen A.R. (editor), Barnwell in Northamptonshire: p3-7; Giggins, B., unpublished research)

Listing NGR: TL0491785203


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

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Books and journals
Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Northamptonshire, (1961), 101
Ryland, W, Adkins, D, Sejeantson, R, The Victoria History of the County of Northampton, (1930), 71
Traylen, A R, Barnwell in Northamptonshire3-7
'Country Life' in 17 September, (1959), 298 301
'Country Life' in 10 September, (1959), 238 241
Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England, Part 30 Northamptonshire,


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

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Date: 13 Jan 2005
Reference: IOE01/13722/11
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Roger Ashley. Source Historic England Archive
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