Thrapston Chancery Lane

Has been described as a Possible Timber Castle (Motte Ringwork), and also as a Possible Masonry Castle

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains

NameThrapston Chancery Lane
Alternative Names
Historic CountryNorthamptonshire and the Soke of Peterborough
Modern AuthorityNorthamptonshire
1974 AuthorityNorthamptonshire
Civil ParishThrapston

Occupation site (SP 99647875), N.W. of the church. Until its almost total destruction by recent building, there appears to have been a large artificial mound surrounded by a ditch. There were some indications of a stone structure, associated with medieval pottery, either within or on top of the mound (inf. D.A. Jackson). (RCHME)

At Thrapston there is a low mote-like platform raised only a few feet above the surrounding level. It has been much mutilated over the centuries and has several houses cutting into it. A section revealed by a sewage trench a few years ago suggested the platform was more complex than expected. A short distance in from the mound edge the strata began to tip downwards again. The structure would therefore appear to be a ringwork subsequently built up in the interior at a later period, similar to Sulgrave. Pieces of pre-Conquest St. Neots wares were recovered.

Further work is required to investigate the true nature of this mound. (Hall and Jackson 1978)

De Veer Castle and Manor House

The de Veer manor, though probably leased out for much of the medieval and post medieval period, had a capital messuage in Thrapston. The castle may have been constructed by the lords of the honour of Bourne themselves in the late 11th or earlier 12th century, the de Veer family only acquiring it in the second half of the 12th century. The castle was probably constructed on or close to the site of the late Saxon manor and it will have served as the capital messuage in the early medieval period.

Bridges recorded in 1720 that 'to the north of the church are two mounts, where a castle is supposed to have stood.' According to Cole in the early 19th century the castle mound extended 74 yards in length. Bridges also records that stone foundation of buildings had been found in Paradise Close

Earthworks and other archaeological features have been recorded in the area of the former Paradise Close and of the later manor which confirm the existence of a medieval castle. The motte. although severely mutilated by modern, Victorian and earlier building, still survives to a height of about 2 metres. Limited observation dming the construction of two houses on its south side in the early 1970s provided evidence of large stone footings on the top of the mound at its southern edge. Although partly robbed out, two distinct phases were distinguishable. These structures were sealed by a 13th century pit. No obvious features were observed during cutting back of the mound, although a massive disturbed area was revealed on the south side, cutting onto natural gravel, which probably represented a defensive ditch. The published section is not located or orientated, but it is suggested there that the layers of the mound are dipping inward to the centre of the mound and it is suggested that this may indicate a ringwork rather than motte. This information is, however, contradicted by D. Jackson who claims the layers in fact fell towards the exterior of the mound.

A bailey may have existed on the west side of the motte, because a second earthwork still survives towards the western side of the area formerly encompassed by Paradise Close. When examined in the late 1970s the linear bank at the western side survived to a substantial height and appeared possibly to have been a remnant of an outer bailey. There was however no evidence of any earthwork connecting it to the motte, although this and the hollow between the two earthworks could be explained as the result of quarrying, perhaps that which led to the discovery of the stone foundations recorded by Bridges. There is however the possibility, in the light of the contiguity of the manor site and the name 'Paradice' recorded in 1782, that this earthwork was simply a landscape garden feature associated with the manor, though one might have expected Bridges, writing in 1720, to have been aware of any such garden feature.

A bailey almost certainly existed on the east side of the motte in the area occupied by the manor in 1782. The 18th century map depicts a curving linear pond arcing around the north side of the manor site which might represent the remnants of a bailey ditch, with the moat perhaps being fed from a spring in Spring Close, or more likely simply penetrating the water table which is relatively shallow in this low lying situation. A deep disturbance containing medieval pottery at a depth of about 4-5 ft was recorded in this approximate area during housing development in the 1960s. The curving boundary on the south side of the manor may also preserve the line of a defensive ditch. The absence of any reference to ramparts in this area could be explained by the continued use of the site by the manor into recent times, involving the levelling of any earthworks.

It is unclear when occupation ceased on the motte, but a pit containing 13th century pottery was reported sealing the stone foundations. The demise of the castle may have been related in some way to the granting out of the manor to the de Veer family in the first half of the 13th century, for they had then residence in the nearby village of Great Addington. After the castle ceased to serve defensive functions the capital messuage seems to have persisted in what may have been the eastern bailey. Medieval pottery has been recovered from this area when the site was developed in the 1960s and it is certainly here that the main manor was to be found by the early 15th century. In 1335 the manor comprised a capital messuage worth 6/8d with two gardens adjoining, though whether this incorporated the area later known as Paradice, the site of the castle motte, is not clear.

Though by the later 18th century Chancery Lane cut through the manor and castle site, running through what must have been the location of the motte ditch and severing the motte on the west from the manor and possible bailey on the east, in the medieval period it seems likely that this road simply gave access through the market place to the castle and manor, which will have fronted directly onto the north side of the market place. (Foard and Ballinger 2000)

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSP996787
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  • Lowerre, A.G., 2005, Placing Castles in the Conquest. Landscape, Lordship and Local Politics in the South-Eastern Midlands, 1066-1100 (Oxford: John and Erica Hedges Ltd: BAR British Series 385) p. 252
  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of the East Midlands (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 82
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 319, lxvii (possible)
  • RCHME, 1975, An inventory of the historical monuments in the County of Northampton Vol. 1: North-east Northamptonshire (HMSO) p. 96 online transcription
  • Page, Wm, (ed), 1930, VCH Northamptonshire Vol. 3 p. 139-42 (tenurial history) online transcription
  • Bridges, John, 1791, The History and Antiquities of Northamptonshire (Oxford) Vol. 2 p. 379


  • Hall, D. and Jackson, D., 1978, 'Thrapston, Northamptonshire' South Midlands Archaeology: CBA Group 9 Newsletter Vol. 8 p. 18-19 online copy
  • Brown, A.E., 1977, 'Ipswich Ware from Thrapston' Northamptonshire Archaeology Vol. 12 p. 190 download from ArchLib
  • 1975, Northamptonshire Archaeology Vol. 10 p. 175 download from ArchLib
  • 1966, Bulletin of the Northamptonshire Federation of Archaeological Societies Vol. 1 p. 12 download from ArchLib


  • Glenn Foard and Jenny Ballinger, 2000, Northamptonshire Extensive Urban Survey - Thrapston (Northamptonshire County Council, English Heritage) p. 14-15 Download copy
  • Lowerre, A.G., 2004, Placing Castles in the Conquest. Landscape, Lordship and Local Politics in the South-Eastern Midlands, 1066-1100 (PhD thesis: Boston College) p. 562-63