Hanley Castle

Has been described as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are earthwork remains

NameHanley Castle
Alternative NamesHenley; Hanleg'; Herleg'; Henleg'
Historic CountryWorcestershire
Modern AuthorityWorcestershire
1974 AuthorityHereford and Worcester
Civil ParishHanley Castle

Hanley Castle, of which there are no traces ..." was a large square building with four towers, surrounded by a moat; the keep was placed in the northwest corner" (Nash 1799).

The castle stood within a double moat, but only the inner remains the northern side of which was filled in during the late 19th century. The only remains of the castle is a circular concave pit in the north east corner of the moat. This is walled in and has the remains of a grating at the bottom and is said to have been an outdoor oven. Foundation walls, 9ft thick, have been found nearby. The existing Hanley Castle is of early 17th century date (Lawson 1884).

Hanley Castle was a royal castle commanding the high road from Worcester to Upton. It was built by King John between 1206 and 1212. In 1216 it was granted to Gilbert de Clare and remained in that family until 1314. Between 1322 and his death in 1327 Edward II carried out extensive work which included, in 1324, the digging of a great ditch round the castle, 60ft wide and 7ft deep. A schedule of building materials, taken in 1327, suggests that the work was incomplete at that date (HKW).

Three sides of a sub-rectangular dry moat mark the site of Hanley Castle. The fourth side, the northern sector in front of and to the E of, the now derelict Hanley Castle House, has been rendered indefinable by landscaping. The ditch is now some 1.5m deep and varies between 28.0m and 38.0m wide. The central platform shows no trace of any building foundations (F1 FKB 05-JUN-70).

The moat at Hanley Castle itself may have been the fish pond, but there is a reference in 1172-3 to the cost of repair of a fish pond which implies a separate construction which no longer exists (Aston and Bond 1988). (PastScape)

The castle at Hanley, which stood to the south of the village in the south-east corner of the parish, about half a mile from the right bank of the Severn, was built by King John

The work was probably begun about 1210, for from that date until 1212 sums are entered on the Pipe Rolls as having been expended in work at the king's houses of Hanley. King John stayed here in July 1209 and November 1213. In 1211–12 assizes were held at the castle. It was excepted from the grant of the manor to Geoffrey de Mandeville in 1214, and its custody was granted in 1216 to Roger Clifford, jun. It was given by Henry III to Gilbert de Clare, and then followed the descent of the manor until it was surrendered by Hugh le Despencer to King Edward II, who appointed Malcolm Musard and William Payn wardens in 1321. A letter written by Edward I from Hanley is preserved, and from 1291 to 1327 there are accounts for work done at the houses of Blackmore and Hanley. During the rebellion against the Despencers Hanley Castle was attacked and damaged. The king appointed wardens till 1328. A schedule dated 1327 gives a list of arms and ammunition in the castle and includes 'nails and wood prepared for raising a chapel' there. The castle was granted with the manor in 1330 to Roger Earl of March, and apparently restored in 1331 to William la Zouche and his wife, though it is not mentioned in the Patent, for Eleanor died seised of it in 1337. Some extensions were apparently made about 1349, when houses are mentioned as having been lately built there. The castle was at that time assigned to Elizabeth widow of Hugh le Despencer as her dwelling-place. In 1416 Eleanor widow of Richard le Despencer had a third of it assigned to her in dower, viz., a great room at the end of the hall to the west with two towers of stone and a third of the pantry and buttery under the said room, two rooms called 'les Guestenchambres,' three towers in the south with a fourth in the corner of the castle towards the south, a third part of the bakehouse and kitchen also in the said corner, and a third of the palisade and moat adjacent to the said four towers towards the south. She was also to have free access to the chapel. Henry, afterwards Duke of Warwick, was born here in 1425 and died here twenty-one years later. Constables of the castle were appointed by the Crown during the minority of Edward son of George Duke of Clarence. In 1480–1 the gate-house, drawbridge, pool, mill and floodgate were repaired, the sum spent amounting to £4 17s. 10d. The chapel is again mentioned in the next year, when it and the kitchen were repaired. The castle was surrendered with the manor to the Crown in 1487, and the last entry of repairs occurs in the following year. Constables were appointed until 1512, but soon after this the castle must have fallen into decay. Leland describes it as much dilapidated. Hanley, he says, 'is an uplandisch Towne. The Castelle standith in a Parke at the Weste Parte of the Towne. Syr John Savage and his Fauther and grauntfather lay much aboute Hanley and Theokysbyri as Keepers of Hanley. The Erles of Gloster were owners of this castel and lay much there. Mr. Cometon clene defacid it yn his tyme beyng keeper of it after Savage.'. The castle is not mentioned in the grant of the manor to Lord Clinton or in subsequent deeds, but the ruins are said to have belonged to Roland Badger in the 16th century. Habington writes of the castle in the middle of the 17th century, 'This Castell where the Earls of Gloucester lived, and the Duke of Warwick dyed, is so vanished as there appearethe nothinge in that place but a littell rubbyshe and a seelly barne.' No traces of the building now remain. Nash states that it was a large square structure with four towers, surrounded by a moat, with the keep in the north-west corner. The masonry of the only remaining tower is said to have been removed in 1795 by Thomas Hornyold to repair the bridge at Upton upon Severn. The line of the moat is still visible. A modern house which stood on some portion of the site was destroyed by fire in January 1904. (Worcestershire and Worcester City HER)

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSO838413
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  • Toomey, J.P. (ed.), 2013, Noble household management and spiritual discipline in fifteenth-century Worcestershire: a household account of Edward, duke of York at Hanley Castle, 1409-10 (Worcester: Worcestershire Historical Society 24)
  • Toomey, James Patrick, 2001, Records of Hanley Castle, Worcestershire, c.1147-1547 (Worcestershire Historical Society)
  • Salter, Mike, 2000, The Castles of Herefordshire and Worcestershire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 79
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 280 (slight)
  • Salter, Mike, 1993, Midlands Castles (Birmingham) p. 47-8
  • Higham, R. and Barker, P., 1992, Timber Castles (Batsford) p. 172
  • Aston, M. and Bond, C.J., 1988, 'Worcestershire fishponds' in M. Aston (ed), Medieval fish, fisheries, and fishponds in England (British Archaeological Reports British series 182) part 2 p. 450
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 507
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 239
  • Hurle, P., 1978, Hanley Castle, Heart of Malvern Chase (Phillimore & Co Ltd)
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 200
  • Colvin, H.M., Brown, R.Allen and Taylor, A.J., 1963, The history of the King's Works Vol. 2: the Middle Ages (London: HMSO) p. 667-9
  • Page, Wm and Willis-Bund, J.W. (eds), 1924, VCH Worcestershire Vol. 4 p. 93-96 online transcription
  • Montgomerie, 1924, 'Ancient Earthworks' in Page, Wm and Willis-Bund, J.W. (eds), VCH Worcestershire Vol. 4 p. 431, 433
  • 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. 384 online copy
  • Lawson, E.M., 1884, The Nation in the Parish or Records of Upton on Severn (London: Houghton and Gunn) p. 202-9 online copy
  • Nash, T., 1781, Collections for a History of Worcestershire (London: T Payne and son) Vol. 1 p. 588


  • Camden, Wm, 1607, Britannia hypertext critical edition by Dana F. Sutton (2004)
  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 193, 516, 517
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1909, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 4 p. 135 online copy ; Vol. 5 p. 9, 154 [online copy > http://archive.org/stream/itineraryofjohnl05lelauoft#page/9/mode/1up]


  • Bond, C.J., 1974, 'Hanley Castle' Worcestershire archaeology and local history newsletter Vol. 14 p. 3-4
  • Brown, R. Allen, 1959, 'A List of Castles, 1154–1216' English Historical Review Vol. 74 p. 249-280 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 90-121) view online copy (subscription required)
  • Brown, R. Allen, 1955, 'Royal Castle-building in England 1154-1216' English Historical Review Vol. 70 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press)) p. 19-64

Primary Sources

  • Pipe Rolls 1207-12 (see Pipe Roll Society for published references)
  • Hardy, T.D. (ed), 1835, Rotuli litterarm patentium in Turri londinensi asservati (Record Commission) p. 162 view online copy
  • Hardy, T.D. (ed), 1833, Rotuli litterarum clausarum in turri Londinensi asservati (Record Commission) Vol. 1 p. 211b online copy
  • Hardy, T.D. (ed), 1844, Rotuli de Liberate ac de Misis et Praestitis, regnante Johanne (Record Commission) p. 83, 121, 128-9 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. 473-4


  • < >Toomey, James Patrick, 1997, A medieval woodland manor : Hanley Castle, Worcestershire (PhD thesis University of Birmingham) esp. p. 220-231 < > online copy