Cranborne Manor

Has been described as a Certain Palace (Royal), and also as a Certain Fortified Manor House

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameCranborne Manor
Alternative Names
Historic CountryDorset
Modern AuthorityDorset
1974 AuthorityDorset
Civil ParishCranborne

A three storey, early 17th century hunting lodge with basements and attics. It was originally built as a hunting lodge between 1207-8, and appears to have been referred to as a castle in 1241 and 1322. The original plan probably comprised a first floor hall and additional rooms over a vaulted undercroft with a tower to the south west. The building was heavily buttressed and crenellated with arrow slits in the machiolations. The 17th century alterations included the heightening of the south west tower and the construction of a new tower to the south east. Wings were added to the west and east sides of the 13th century house, but the western wing was rebuilt in 1647 and the eastern wing demolished in 1716. From the 18th century until 1860 the house was divided and in use as two farmhouses. The building was restored and reconverted to a single dwelling in 1863. (PastScape)

Hunting Lodge, now country house, c.1207/8, remodelled and extended 1608-1636, further extended c.1647 and restoration 1863. C13 work for Ralph Neville on behalf of King John; early C17 work by William Arnold for Robert Cecil, 1st earl of Salisbury; 1647 work by Captain Richard Ryder; 1863 restoration for the 2nd Marquess of Salisbury. Partly rendered rubble and flint with ashlar dressings and partly ashlar. Tiled and stone slated roofs. North front has brick stacks with triple flues set diamondwise symmetrically disposed. Other brick stacks in various locations. Original plan probably a first floor hall and subsidiary rooms over a vaulted undercroft together with south-west corner tower. 3 storeys with basements and attics. Original main facade to the north; symmetrical, of 3 main bays. South front of 5 bays with an additional 2 bays to the west. Windows are C17, mullioned and mullioned and transomed with returned labels. North front has a porch in the form of an open loggia of 3 semicircular arches on Doric columns. The battlements rise from a partly C13 corbel table

To the right of the porch is a C13 double archer's loop. C13 buttresses with C17 facing in the form of coupled classical pilasters. The south front has an embattled parapet above a corbel table. To the centre is a C17 portico with 3 rusticated arches on Doric columns supporting a strapwork entablature. The upper floor of the portico bears niches and a parapet with recesses containing sculptured symbols of Libra and Virgo. C17 doorway with original plank door. To the right of the portico is a C13 canted vice turret. The west wing has a steep hipped roof with overhanging eaves and heavy modillions. The windows are C19 replacements. Internally a number of rooms have C17 panelling and fireplace, some being reset. A number of C17 stone doorways with 4-centred heads and original plank doorways are retained. C17 vaulted undercroft. C17 screens with Doric pilasters and gallery with arcaded panelling over. C13 vice rises the entire height of the house. Some remnants of C13 shafted rere-arches. Various remnants of a C13 chapel in the east end of the house. Various other C19 features, largely in a Jacobean style. The building is extremely important both as a rare survival of early C13 domestic architecture and as a fine early C17 country house. (Listed Building Report)

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 ReferenceSU053132
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  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 461, 473
  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of Wessex (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 22
  • Cooper, Nicholas, 1999, Houses of the Gentry, 1480-1680 (Yale University Press) p. 35, 116, 117, 118, 121
  • Wilton, P., 1995, Castles of Dorset (Wimborne)
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 65-6
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 129
  • RCHME, 1975, An inventory of historical monuments in the County of Dorset Vol. 5: east p. 7-12 no. 4 (plan) online transcription
  • Pevsner, N. and Newman, J., 1972, Buildings of England: Dorset (London) p. 171-4
  • 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. 922-3


  • Smart, T.W.W., 1890, 'Castle Hill, Cranborne' Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society Vol. 11 p. 148-158 online copy
  • William Barnes, 1881, 'Cranborne, the So Called Castle' Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society Vol. 4 p. 134-136 online copy

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1912, Calendar of Fine Rolls Edward II (1319-1327) Vol. 3 p. 101 (John de Botiller of Lanultit appointed Constable) see online copy


  • Dorset County Council, 2011, Dorset Historic Towns Survey: Cranborne Download copy