Causeway which was the historic principal access route to Westenhanger Castle, a medieval and later fortified house.
Reasons for Designation
The remains of the causeway associated with the medieval and later fortified manor house, Westenhanger Castle, is scheduled for the following principal reasons:
* Survival: it was the historic principal access route to the medieval and later fortified house of Westenhanger Castle, and survives for much of its length as a well-defined earthwork feature which contributes to the understanding of how this high-status site functioned;
* Documentation: the understanding of the causeway is further enhanced by historical and archaeological documentation, including historical mapping and recent archaeological investigations;
* Potential: the earthwork and buried deposits have the potential to inform on the feature’s construction and development;
* Group value: the causeway has a strong physical and functional group value with the designated features within Westenhanger Castle (scheduled remains NHLE 1020761, and Grade I listed barn NHLE 1045888 and fortified house 1344223).
The causeway is the historic access route to the standing and buried remains of Westenhanger Castle (scheduled NHLE 1020761), a medieval and later fortified house situated on the southern edge of the floodplain of the East Stour River. The inner court of the castle, and its outer court adjacent to the west, are built on the site of two earlier manors, Westenhanger and Ostenhanger, into which the parish of Le Hangre had been divided in the C12. The manors were reunited into one ownership in around 1300 under the Criol family. In 1343 Sir John de Criol obtained a licence to crenulate. In the C16 Westenhanger was surrendered by then owner Sir Thomas Poynings to King Henry VIII. At this time the outer court was established, formal gardens were laid out and a deer park was created. From the late C16 the castle was again in private hands, and in 1701 the property was sold and most of the buildings were subsequently taken down. The present house on the site, Westenhanger Manor (listed Grade I NHLE 1344223), was constructed in the C18 from the remains of a C16 century cross-wing of the main hall.
The causeway is believed to have been the principal historic access way to Westenhanger Castle from around the medieval period and through much of the post-medieval period. It provided a raised walkway running from Ashford Road in a north-easterly direction across a dip in the landscape through which runs a spur of the East Stour River, and up to the site of the main house. The earliest map to indicate the existence of this route is John Morden’s map of 1695 which depicts a break in the southern boundary of the deer park that corresponds with the causeway’s south end. This map does not show any form of lodge or gatehouse next to the entrance, although it has been assumed that there would have been a gate at the south end to close the gap in the park pale. The deer park had fallen out of use by the mid-C18 after which the land around Westenhanger became a largely agricultural landscape characterised by enclosed fields. The full extent of the causeway approach is shown on J Andrews Map of Kent of 1769 which shows an approach way extending from the main road up to the south-west corner of Westenhanger Castle. A more detailed Ordnance Survey map of 1797 shows a large orchard bordering the east side of part of the causeway. An early-C19 description of the remains of Westenhanger noted the ‘traces of a long walk, bordered by a double row of trees, may yet be distinguished leading up towards the principal entrance from the south’ (Brayley, 1808). On the 1st Series Ordnance Survey map (1:2500; 1873) the route of the causeway is depicted as a tree-lined footpath following the line of a field boundary (formerly the site of the orchard) with a field drain running along most of its eastern side. This map also depicts a small rectangular area of marshy grassland further to the north and bordering the east side of the causeway; recent analysis has suggested this feature may be the remains of one of two fishponds associated with the deer park and is now (2021) an area of wetland. Further north the footpath is shown departing from the field boundary line and running across to the south-west corner of the site of Westenhanger Castle.
In 1898 Folkestone Racecourse was established on the land to the south of Westenhanger Castle. When the racecourse circuit was laid out it crossed two points on the line of the causeway. By the early C20, most of the causeway was no longer in use, with only a short section of footpath shown on contemporary maps at the north end. During the mid-C20 the racecourse fell under military occupation, before returning to recreational use. By the early C21 the southern end of the causeway had become covered by a short rubble access road trackway leading up to the side of the racecourse. In 2012 the racecourse closed.
Much of the causeway appears as an earthwork on recent aerial photography and a Digital Elevation Model (2018). Geophysical survey work has been carried out on most of the land either side of the causeway. This includes a survey (2017) carried out within land bordering the west side of the northern end of the proposed line of the causeway. No anomalies of clear archaeological potential were identified in this area; a broad area of magnetic disturbance within the east side of the field was deemed to most likely be in origin, perhaps being due to tipping or infilling. As part of an archaeological assessment of the wider landscape in 2020, a trial trench (Trench 262, Wessex, 2020) was placed across the route of the causeway where the racecourse crosses its southern end. This excavation identified a buried trackway overlaying an earlier ditch which contained a single post-medieval masonry fragment and ironworking slag, indicating that this section of trackway was post-medieval in date at the earliest. There have been no other excavations of the surviving earthwork remains of the causeway. However, in 2021 it was reported that the section of earthwork adjacent to the area of wetland had been subject to badger damage and the burrowing had uncovered masonry similar to that found in the trial trench. It has been suggested that the causeway would have led from a lodge building at its southern end; however, at present there is no direct evidence for such a structure.
Causeway, formerly the historic principal access route to Westenhanger Castle, a medieval and later fortified house.
PRINCIPAL ELEMENTS: the section of causeway is just under 400m in length and survives as an earthwork and buried linear feature, on a south-west to north-east alignment. The earthwork remains consist of a raised flat mound, around 6m wide, with banks either side, and a drainage ditch along much of the earthwork's east side. The causeway varies in height, up to around 1m, as it crosses a shallow valley between Ashford Road and the site of Westenhanger Castle.
DESCRIPTION: the southern end of the causeway monument starts at around TR1192436622 where it runs from Ashford Road, north-east towards Westenhanger Castle. This section of the causeway is overlain by a modern rubble trackway.
At approximately TR1196836699 the earthwork has been truncated where it has been intersected by the southern side of the racecourse circuit. This area has been subject to trial trenching. The excavation uncovered the buried remains of a 4.5m wide trackway, on the line of the causeway. On its east side it was found to seal an earlier ditch containing a single post-medieval masonry fragment and ironworking slag, indicating this section of trackway to be post-medieval at its earliest date. Also identified in this trench were three north/south aligned linear ditches directly adjacent to the trackway; it is unclear whether these relate to the causeway.
Continuing north, the causeway reappears as an upstanding earthwork approximately 260m in length. A ditch runs parallel to the earthwork on much of its east side; this was used in the post-medieval period as a field drain. The earthwork runs north-eastwards and varies in height as it crosses a shallow valley and continues to approximately TR1209036964, where it runs along the side of a rectangular area of wetland, possibly the site of an earlier fishpond. Beyond this point the route of the approach to Westenhanger is believed to continue north toward the south-west corner of the former fortified house; however, based on the available evidence it is not clear if the causeway survives in this area.
EXTENT OF SCHEDULING: the extent of the monument is shown on the attached map extract; the southern end of the scheduled area is on the north side of Ashford Road, the east side incorporates the edge of the bank and drainage ditch, the west side incorporates the edge of causeway bank on this side, and the northern end is located at the northern edge of the wetlands area. The scheduled area includes a 2m buffer around the causeway remains, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.
EXCLUSIONS: any modern fencing and gates, and drainage pipework are not included in the scheduling, although the ground beneath is included. The modern road surface at the south end of the causeway feature is also not included, although the ground beneath is included.