Coventry Castle

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Other/Unknown), and also as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are no visible remains

NameCoventry Castle
Alternative NamesRed Ditch
Historic CountryWarwickshire
Modern AuthorityCoventry
1974 AuthorityWest Midlands
Civil ParishCoventry

Site of Coventry Castle. A castle existed in Coventry by the mid 12th century, and possibly earlier. In 1147, when Ranulf, 2nd Earl of Chester besieged the town, the King's men withdrew to the castle, and following the lifting of the siege, it is said that King Stephen destroyed the castle. However, it must have been repairable since it is mentioned, as a viable fortification, in 1182, 1200 and 1208. It is possible that the Red Ditch, a previously unexplained earthwork, may be the southern and western defence perimeter of the bailey. Excavations discovered late 12th century pottery in the primary fill of the ditch, but there is no conclusive proof that it was part of the bailey. (PastScape)

Gatehouse Comments

The builders of St Mary's Hall, utilised stone from the castle, and indeed Caesar's Tower at St Mary's Hall may be built directly on the foundations of former castle buildings. Earl Street, first mentioned in the late C12, later ran right through the site on an E-W axis. Houses soon appeared on the street, and sometime after 1250, the Earls of Chester moved their residence from the castle to Cheylesmore Manor allowing the castle to decay and let out as tenements. (PastScape–ref. VCH)

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSP335789
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Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved

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Latitude 52° 24' 26.03" Longitude -1° 30' 25.22"

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  • Soden, Iain, 2005, Coventry: The Hidden History p. 43
  • McGrory, David, 2003, A History of Coventry (Phillimore & Co Ltd)
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 256 (mention)
  • Salter, Mike, 1993, Midlands Castles (Birmingham) p. 40
  • Salter, Mike, 1992, Castles and Moated Mansions of Warwickshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 27
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 485
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 216
  • Lancaster, J.C., 1975, 'Coventry' in Lobel, M.D. (ed) The Atlas of Historic Towns Vol. 2 (London: Scolar Press/Historic Towns Trust) online copy
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 160
  • Stephens, W.B. (ed), 1969, VCH Warwickshire Vol. 8 p. 18 online transcription
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Timbs, J. and Gunn, A., 1872, Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales Vol. 2 (London) p. 371-5 online copy


  • Dugdale, Wm., 1656, The Antiquities of Warwickshire (Thomas Warren) p. 101 online copy


  • Chatwin, P.B., 1928, Birmingham and Warwickshire Archaeological Society transactions Vol. 53
  • Webster, L.E. and Cherry, J., 1972, 'Medieval Britain in 1971' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 16 p. 183 download copy
  • 1975, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 19 p. 274 download copy
  • Youngs, S.M. and Clark, J., 1982, 'Medieval Britain in 1981' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 26 p. 212 download copy
  • Coates, B. and Rylett, M., 1986, West Midlands Archaeology CBA Regional Group 8 Vol. 29 p. 71
  • Chatwin, P.B., 1947-8, 'Castles in Warwickshire' Transactions of the Birmingham and Warwickshire Archaeological Society Vol. 67 p. 6-7

Primary Sources

  • Sewell, R.C. (ed), 1846, Gesta Stephani, Regis Anglorum et Ducis Normannorum p. 125 online copy (The newer edition and translation by Potter, K.R. (ed), 1976 (2edn), Gesta Stephani (Oxford University Press) should be consulted for serious study. See also Speight, S., 2000, 'Castle Warfare in the Gesta Stephani' , Château Gaillard Vol. 19 [see online transcription >])
  • Dibben, A.A. (ed), 1969, Coventry City Charters (Coventry Corporation) p. 7


  • Fradley, Michael, 2011, The Old in the New: Urban Castle Imposition in Anglo-Norman England, AD1050-1150 (University of Exeter PhD Thesis) available via EThOS
  • James Greig, 1989, The medieval site at Coventry, Bayley Lane: An Assessment of the potential of the site for work on Environmental Archaeology, and in particular Archaeobitony