Coberley Castle

Has been described as a Questionable Masonry Castle, and also as a Questionable Fortified Manor House

There are no visible remains

NameCoberley Castle
Alternative NamesCubberly; Cow Berkeley
Historic CountryGloucestershire
Modern AuthorityGloucestershire
1974 AuthorityGloucestershire
Civil ParishCoberley

SO 96561577 Old Coberley Hall, the home of the Berkeleys, was sketched by Ravenhill in 1791 and demolished soon afterwards (TBGAS 1924). It stood on the site of Coberley churchyard, which in 1879 was bounded on the east and south by high ashlar walls with two doorways of probable Elizabethan date (TBGAS 1879-80). The remains of the walls were still to be seen in 1924 (TBGAS 1924). (For the probable site of the castle see SO 91 NE 5 - aka Defra no 117382).

To the south and west are ponds, both waterfilled and dry, apparently connected with the original complex (F1 ANK 06-JUN-72). (PastScape 117379)

A barrel-vaulted passage, 3'6" wide and about 4ft high, was uncovered in April 1951 during the laying of water mains on the road by Bookers Farm, (?Bookers Cottages - Name SO956162). The site is reputably that of Coberley Castle, belonging to a branch of the Berkeleys, and the passage presumably a medieval drain. It ran from the direction of the present houses below the road and opened on to the side of the valley known as Town End (O'Neil)

In 1846 however, Gromonde and Capt Bell uncovered some 15ft of the passage: they found a stone-framed doorway and fragments of encaustic tiles and painted glass possibly dated to Henry II.

At 'Town End' they 'investigated' turf covered, dry-stone foundations in field called 'The Castle' and extending to the banks of a small stream. A 'sort of bakehouse' had been reported earlier. They put in a spade at intervals and found a variety of pottery ('No fine Roman') and an early English penny. Some disturbance on APs but nothing definable in area SO 956161.

'Townsend Ground' is applied to three fields on the S and W side of Glebe, to the W of Booker's and 'Lower Baileys'. 'Upper Baileys' is applied to fields South of the valley stream. 'The Castle' was not then a field name (Coberley Tithe Map & Award 1838). (PastScape 117382)

Gatehouse Comments

The PastScape suggestion that the probably site of the medieval castle was at SO956161 seems to be based on a reading of O'Neil (1958) in which he partly quotes from Gromonde (1846). Gromonde and Bell investigated two separate sites in Coberley; The passage, glass and tiles was one site (not identified, and therefore, probably an obvious site such as that next to the church) and a second site where they found foundation of unmortared walls and pottery at Town End in a field called 'the Castle'. Both sites may have had drains (passages) and this seems to have caused some confabulation between the two sites. The manorial centre is more likely to have been south of the church where the manor house is known to have stood and where it seems likely that the high status finds made by Gromonde were actually found. The 'Castle' field at Town End may have been part of the demense of this manor ('bailey' field names in this context probably mean "of the bailiff" i.e. Steward) and seems to have contained a 'bakehouse' (possibly some industrial activity rather than bread making?) David King recorded this as a possible castle, which in his terms usually meant a questionable or doubtful site. There does seem to have been a high status manor house, with a castle name, south of the church although it is unlikely this was a size or form to be regarded as a castle in the sense that King would usually use the term.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSO965157
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 185 (possible)


  • 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. 167
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1909, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 4 p. 131, 132 online copy; Vol. 5 p. 147 [online copy >]


  • Rawes, B., 1977, 'A Check List of Castles and other Fortified Sites of Medieval Date in Gloucestershire' Glevensis Vol. 11 p. 39-41 online copy
  • O'Neil, H.E., 1958, 'A Reputed Underground Passage at Coberley, Gloucestershire' Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society Vol. 77 p. 161-3 online copy
  • 1924, Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society Vol. 46 p. 56 online copy
  • 1879-80, Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society Vol. 4 p. 46 online copy
  • Gromonde, W.H., 1846, Journal of the British Archaeological Association Vol. 1 p. 153 online copy