Leybourne Castle

Has been described as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameLeybourne Castle
Alternative NamesLayborne; Leyborne
Historic CountryKent
Modern AuthorityKent
1974 AuthorityKent
Civil ParishLeybourne

Leybourne Castle survives comparatively well despite the later construction of a house within the defences. Large areas of the ward and surrounding moat have remained undisturbed and contain both archaeological remains and environmental evidence. These will provide an insight into the construction of the castle as well as the economy and way of life of the inhabitants of a 13th century enclosure castle. The monument includes an enclosure castle situated on a gentle east facing slope in an area of Greensand. The castle has ruined upstanding remains of medieval masonry dating from about 1300, surrounded by a partially infilled circular moat. The enclosed central area of the castle measures c.48m in diameter and contains the remains of the enclosing wall, which constituted the castle's main defence, with the gateway entrance on the north east side. The gatehouse is formed by two drum towers which survive to the first floor level. These incorporate a number of features including arrow-loops, external portcullis grooves and a water chute above the entrance way. Within the eastern tower is a well. On the south eastern edge of the enclosed area are the remains of a mural tower which survives up to c.7m high and appears to be contemporary with the gatehouse. On the west side of the interior inside the enclosing wall is a rectangular building 11m north-south by 6m east-west, thought to be a chapel. Although the building may incorporate some of the earlier construction of the castle, it is believed to relate to the private house which was built within the castle ruins during the 16th century. Surrounding the central area is a moat, visible to the north, west and south as an earthwork up to 15m wide and 1m deep. To the east the moat has become infilled and is no longer visible from ground level, surviving as a buried feature. An entrance causeway crosses the moat to the north east

There is little documentary evidence which records the earliest history of Leybourne Castle but it has been suggested that the castle was originally Norman, dating to the 11th or 12th century. The majority of the upstanding masonry, however, dates to the early 14th century and the gateway was built during the reign of Edward III. The 16th century house, erected in the ruins of the castle, remained until 1930 when the present house was built along the eastern line of the castle wall. Leybourne Castle ruins are Listed Grade II-star, but are nevertheless included in the scheduling except where incorporated into the modern house. (Scheduling Report)

Castle gateway ruin, outbuilding and house. Early C14 and 1925-26. House related to ruins by Walter Godfrey in free Cotswold vernacular style. GATEWAY: random rubble stone. Two broad semicircular bastions with a triple-chamfered depressed arch between with beginnings of opening area. Loop-holes on ground floor with widish square windows above. Portcullis groove and beginnings of rib-vault oriel cut in archway. Internally, evidence of upper floors, and vaulted cupboard in addition to west bastion. Low wall, probably reconstructed in right-angle to west and south, connecting with 2-storey random rubble gabled outbuilding, probably also C14 with arched doorway in north gable end and two- light window arch. HOUSE: Attached to east bastion and stretching to south East front: Random rubble with stone tiled roof, and hipped gable to left arch shallow projection. Ridge stack to left and stack to right behind ridge, both very tall. 2 storeys; 3 bays, irregular with shallow, parapeted, canted bays at each end. Large 10-light window on ground floor, off-centre to right with 5-light window above. Large projecting gabled chimney breast to left with door- way, further to left. South side: Hipped to right with centre valley and gabled end to left with tall projecting stack. 2 storeys; 2 windows to right, 12-light window below. North front: 2 storeys; irregular fenestration of 5 windows on 1st floor, and 1 for right on ground floor with round-arched doorway to left with stone surround and brick arch between. Interior: ground floor rooms panelled. (Listed Building Report)

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 2* 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 ReferenceTQ688589
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Copyright Glen Humble and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.View full Sized Image
Copyright Glen Humble and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.View full Sized Image
Copyright Glen Humble and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.View full Sized Image

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Primary Sources

  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 273


  • Archaeology South-East (archaeological evaluation reports) Swift, D., 2007, An Archaeological Investigation Report at The Chapel, Leybourne Castle, Leybourne, Kent. online copy
  • Canterbury Archaeological Trust (assessment & evaluation reports) Jarman, C., 1997, Watching brief at Leybourne Castle, West Malling