Castle Ashby; The Castle

Has been described as a Questionable Timber Castle (Other/Unknown), and also as a Questionable Masonry Castle, and also as a Certain Palace (Bishop), and also as a Possible Fortified Manor House

There are no visible remains

NameCastle Ashby; The Castle
Alternative NamesAsheby David; Asscheby
Historic CountryNorthamptonshire and the Soke of Peterborough
Modern AuthorityNorthamptonshire
1974 AuthorityNorthamptonshire
Civil ParishCastle Ashby

Castle extant during the 11th century and in ruins during the 1530s. The present house was constructed in 1574 and completed circa 1600. The house was constructed around a courtyard and was generally of two-storeys, with a tower projecting at each corner. There were later additions of circa 1624-1635, early 18th century and 1748. The hall was rebuilt between 1771-1772 and there were major renovations between 1797-1807. T G Jackson remodelled the house circa 1880 and Fairfax Wade carried out alterations in 1884. There were also 20th century alterations. (PastScape)

The mansion, which is one of the seats of the Marquess of Northampton, has nothing of the castle about it; it is a fine house of the Elizabethan period, altered in many places by descendants of the original builder, Henry, 1st Lord Compton. But it was built near the site of the medieval castle which already in the time of Leland, early in the 16th century, was a ruin. It is 'now clene down', he says, 'and is made a septum for beestes'. (VCH)

Gatehouse Comments

The assertion that there was a castle here from the C11 comes from Pevsner, but doesn't appear to be supported by archaeological or documentary evidence. The tenurial history given in the VCH would not exclude a castle here but isn't particular suggestive of one. This was a small manor, of less than 2 hides, held by knight's service from the honor of Huntingdon by a local family. In the welsh marches manors of this size and type are sometimes marked with a small motte but that is not usual in Northamptonshire. The castle Leland saw scant ruins of must have been the house of Bishop Walter de Langton, who was both wealthy and a notable builder, although it is unlikely this was more than a fortified manor house. The lack of remains in Lelands time, less than 250 years after it was built, may well suggest this not a particularly strong building despite the castle name. Leland description, as an enclosure for animals, is too vague for a suggestion of form and the construction of the Elizabethan house has entirely removed the medieval house and much altered the local landscape.

- 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 ReferenceSP862592
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

No photos available. If you can provide pictures please contact Castlefacts

Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.

Calculate Print


  • Lowerre, A.G., 2005, Placing Castles in the Conquest. Landscape, Lordship and Local Politics in the South-Eastern Midlands, 1066-1100 (Oxford: John and Erica Hedges Ltd: BAR British Series 385) p. 242-3
  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of the East Midlands (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 73
  • Emery, Anthony, 2000, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 2 East Anglia, Central England and Wales (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 183
  • Thompson, M.W., 1998, Medieval bishops' houses in England and Wales (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing) p. 167, 173
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 169 (slight)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 319
  • Pevsner, Nikolaus; revised by Bridget Cherry, 1973, Buildings of England: Northamptonshire (Penguin) p. 139
  • Salzman, L.F. (ed), 1937, VCH Northamptonshire Vol. 4 p. 230, 232-3 online transcription
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 405 online copy
  • Bridges, John, 1791, The History and Antiquities of Northamptonshire (Oxford) Vol. 1


  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 324
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1907, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 1 p. 7 online copy


  • Scriven, R.G., 1878, 'The history of Castle Ashby' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 35 p. 360-3 online copy

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1898, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward I (1301-1307) Vol. 4 p. 462 online copy
  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 337


  • Lowerre, A.G., 2004, Placing Castles in the Conquest. Landscape, Lordship and Local Politics in the South-Eastern Midlands, 1066-1100 (PhD thesis: Boston College) p. 521-22
  • Payne, Naomi, 2003, The medieval residences of the bishops of Bath and Wells, and Salisbury (PhD Thesis University of Bristol) Appendix B: List of Medieval Bishop's Palaces in England and Wales (available via EThOS)