Boarstall Tower

Has been described as a Certain Fortified Manor House

There are major building remains

NameBoarstall Tower
Alternative NamesBorstall, juxta Brehull; Welstreme
Historic CountryBuckinghamshire
Modern AuthorityBuckinghamshire
1974 AuthorityBuckinghamshire
Civil ParishBoarstall

House, once the fortified gatehouse to a house that was demolished late C18. Early C14, for John de Handle who was given licence to crenellate in 1312. Altered late C16-C17. C20 repairs and internal modifications. Coursed rubble stone with ashlar dressings, the N. front with bands of ashlar. Lead roof. Rectangular building with hexagonal corner towers, the rear towers a little taller and containing stone spiral staircases. 3 storeys, the tall top storey with single large room, the lower storeys with one bay to either side of central archway. Towers have carved stone gargoyles, battlemented parapets with C17 copings, and C14 slit windows, those to N. towers cross-shaped, 2 in S.E. tower with trefoil heads. Other irregular C16-C17 windows as in centre block, S. towers have C16-C17 windows as in centre block. S. towers have C16-C17 doorways with chamfered depressed arches and Tudor hoodmoulds. Centre block, except on S. front, has C17 balustraded stone parapets, that to N. with carved frieze below, those to sides canted out over bay windows. Single octagonal stone chimney shafts flanking centre bay are also C17. C16-C17 moulded stone mullion windows, all with leaded lights. N. front has 2-light windows to ground floor and single lights to first floor, the small central light with the sill grooved, possibly by a portcullis chain; central C14 depressed archway of 2 chamfered orders with C17 doors, the doors reversed with moulded panels to inner face. This archway has flanking C17 stone buttresses which rise in a semi-circular arch to support a 2nd floor rectangular bay window of 3 lights. Rear also has C14 arch with flanking single lights, 2-light windows to first floor and 2 cross windows to upper storey. Canted bay windows to sides have moulded corbel bases and transomed upper windows. Single storey range attached to right, of rubble stone and brick, has been much altered C20 but incorporates older building with angled rear corners and chamfered ashlar jambs

Interior: central through passage has been incorporated into a room with the removal of the left side wall. Ground floor room to right has altered fireplace with shallow late C17 stone arch. Upper floors retain C14 2-centred chamfered arches to towers, that from large room to S.E. tower being of oak. First floor rooms still have old doors. Fine upper room has late C16 stone fireplace with moulded 4-centred arch and stopped jambs, and heraldic glass of 1692 in N. window. Some traces of medieval drawing on rear wall of ground floor. Consecration cross and C17 clock in S.W. tower. In front of the Tower, and attached to it is a bridge of 1736, with 2 brick arches over the moat. House is now owned by The National Trust. (Buckingham HER)

Leland writes 'From Ickford Bridge it is three miles to Welstreme in Buckinghamshire. This is a pleasant, elongated village, and contains a fine old house belonging to the Rede family in a good moat, and with a square gatehouse at the entrance. ... The village of Arncote is three and a half miles further' The village of Welstreme is either Oakley or Brill but the Rede house must be Boarstall, although this is well outside either village. (The Brill manor house was not obtained by the Rede family until 1550, after Leland's time.)

The builder was John de Haudlo, 1312. John de Haudlo, or his father (John) was a custodian of Tonbridge castle (Coulson 2003, p 301, n 18). (and this might explain the similarity of the Boarstall Gatehouse with the 1260s Tonbridge gatehouse), although Boarstall has hexagonal towers, (like Newark approx same date). (Neil Guy, 2011, pers. corr.)

Gatehouse Comments

The original manor dates to before 1141.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSP624142
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Copyright Steve Cook All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
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  • Emery, Anthony, 2006, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 3 Southern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 70-1
  • Coulson, C., 2003, Castles in Medieval Society (Oxford University Press)
  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of The Thames Valley and The Chilterns (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 32-3
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 9
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 26
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 189-90
  • Pevsner, Nikolaus, 1960, Buildings of England: Buckinghamshire (Harmondsworth) p. 68-9
  • Page, Wm (ed), 1927, VCH Buckinghamshire Vol. 4 p. 10-11 online transcription
  • Oman, Charles W.C., 1926, Castles (1978 edn Beetham House: New York) p. 50-1
  • RCHME, 1912, An inventory of the historical monuments in Buckinghamshire Vol. 1 (south) p. 57-9 online copy
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 1 p. 143-4 online copy
  • Timbs, J. and Gunn, A., 1872, Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales Vol. 2 (London) p. 86-90 online copy
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 277, 407 online copy


  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England (Sutton Publishing) p. 368
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1908, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 2 p. 33 online copy


  • Guy, Neil, 2011-12, 'The Rise of the Anti-clockwise Newel Stair' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 25 p. 113-174 online copy
  • Porter, S., 1984, 'The Civil War destruction of Boarstall' Records of Buckinghamshire Vol. 26 p. 86-91

Guide Books

  • Dixon, R., 2009, Boarstall Tower (National Trust)
  • Hall, Dr S., 1979, Boarstall Tower Guide (National Trust)

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1894, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward II (1307-13) Vol. 1 p. 493 online copy


  • Matthews, W.L., 1989, The National Trust Archaeological Survey: Boarstall Tower