John of Gaunts Castle, Daventry

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

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains

NameJohn of Gaunts Castle, Daventry
Alternative NamesDaventry Wood
Historic CountryNorthamptonshire and the Soke of Peterborough
Modern AuthorityNorthamptonshire
1974 AuthorityNorthamptonshire
Civil ParishDaventry

John O'Gaunt's Castle. A substantial building, with stone walls and a tower surrounded by a moat, known in later centuries as John o' Gaunt's Castle, formerly stood within the park, near its north side. An adjacent low mound may mark the site of an earlier building. It has been suggested that this may have been a medieval hunting lodge, although it is possible that the manor house was relocated to the park. In 1284 the prior had agreed that when the lord of Daventry and his wife were present 'in the mansion house taken by the lord out of his park at Daventry, then they might have mass and all other religious offices celebrated in a chapel within the said mansion house'. This suggests that the manor house was relocated in the 13th century by one of the fitz Walters. (Extensive Urban Survey)

Moated site (SP 581612; Fig. 57), known as John of Gaunt's Castle, lay in the S.E. corner of the parish within the deer park on almost flat ground at the base of a steep slope, on Upper Lias Clay at 15 m. above OD. It was probably a medieval moated hunting-lodge, but little is known of its history.

There are various records of Roman bricks and tiles having been found on the site; this may be a mis-identification of medieval materials. In 1816 the wood which then covered the area was removed and a 'double ditch was disclosed within which, just below the surface, was the foundation wall, varying from 4 ft. to 5 ft. in thickness, of a rectangular building 40 yards long and intersected with three cross walls' (G. Baker, Hist. of Northants., I (1822–30), 339).

The N. part of the site, including all but the S. side of the moat, was worked for clay for a brickyard from at least 1857 until 1904 and during this time massive foundation walls were exposed and then destroyed

A building, apparently the one described by Baker, is recorded and described as 'square' and occupying an area of about one third of an acre with 'three cross walls'. On the S.W. side the foundations of a detached round tower 8 m. in diam. were discovered and traces of another, similar one were noted on the E. side. Foundations of 'an entrance which had evidently been approached by a drawbridge' were found there apparently on the S.E. of the building (W. Edgar, Borough Hill and its History (1923), 49–51; Northants. N. and Q., 5 (1921–3), 212–3). Recently the whole site has been built over except for the S. side of the moat which remains as a long ditch 1.2 m. deep. In the field to the S. is a small roughly D-shaped enclosure, bounded by a low scarp 0.5 m. high, with traces of an outer ditch on its W. side; this enclosure has been completely overploughed in ridge-and-furrow. There are slight indications that there was once a further enclosure to the S. again. A medieval glazed roof tile, said to be from the site, survives (DS), but a stone mortar of the 14th or 15th-century date and found in about 1853 on the site is lost ( BNFAS, 3 (1969), 1; Northants. Archaeol., 8 (1973), 26; J. Morton, Nat. Hist. of Northants. (1712), 519). (RCHME)

Gatehouse Comments

The site of a substantial medieval hunting lodge for the Lord of the Over Manor (John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, acquired part of the Over Manor of Daventry in the C14). Arguably not of sufficient strength or political authority to be called a castle but was a strongly built manor house and hunting lodge. It may be a successor to the possible manor house/hunting lodge of Burnt Walls.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSP581612
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of the East Midlands (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 74
  • Emery, Anthony, 2000, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 2 East Anglia, Central England and Wales (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 184
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 319 (possible)
  • RCHME, 1981, An inventory of the historical monuments in the County of Northampton Vol. 3: North-west Northamptonshire (HMSO) p. 68, 70 online transcription
  • Edgar, W., 1923, Borough Hill (Daventry) and its History (London: Taylor and Francis) p. 49-51
  • Baker, G., 1822-30, History and Antiquities of Northamptonshire Vol. 1 p. 339 online copy
  • Morton, John, 1712, _The Natural History of Northamptonshire_ (London) p. 521 online copy


  • Brown, A.E., 1973, 'Archaeology in Northamptonshire 1972' Northamptonshire Archaeology Vol. 8 p. 26 download from ArchLib
  • Smith, D., 1969, Bulletin of the Northamptonshire Federation of Archaeological Societies Vol. 3 p. 1 download from ArchLib
  • 1921-3, Northamptonshire Notes and Queries Vol. 5 p. 212-3


  • Glenn Foard, J Ballinger, J Taylor, 2006, Extensive Urban Survey - Northamptonshire (Northamptonshire County Council, English Heritage) Download copy