Titchmarsh Castle

Has been described as a Certain Fortified Manor House

There are no visible remains

NameTitchmarsh Castle
Alternative NamesTichmarsh; Tichemersh; Tychemersh
Historic CountryNorthamptonshire and the Soke of Peterborough
Modern AuthorityNorthamptonshire
1974 AuthorityNorthamptonshire
Civil ParishTitchmarsh

Titchmarsh Castle is a well documented site with a diversity of well defined features, including a moated site and a large fishpond. Records show that substantial stone buildings surrounded by a circular wall and towers were built on the site, and early excavations of a small part of the moat island confirmed the presence of such buildings. A large proportion of the moat island is undisturbed and therefore retains potential for the preservation of substantial archaeological remains of these buildings.

This monument lies on the south-eastern edge of Titchmarsh village. It is composed of the remains of the moated site of Titchmarsh Castle, a fishpond and the earthworks of the associated water management system. The moat island is almost completely surrounded by a substantial ditch 3m to 4m deep and up to 15m wide. There is an entrance causeway across the ditch in the north-west corner of the moat, and in the north-east corner the ditches have been partly infilled. The moat island is 70m square and in places remains of stonework can be seen just below the surface; when the area was excavated in 1887 remains of stone buildings were discovered. It is recorded that in 1304 John Lovell obtained a licence to crenellate a house on this site, and in 1346 the house was described as a moated site enclosed with a stone wall after the manner of a castle. It is known that the buildings were in a ruined condition by 1363. Just to the south-east of the moated area lies a large waterfilled fishpond connected to the moat by a water channel and earthworks surrounding the pond indicate that it was originally about 30m square. The water was held in the pond by a massive dam on the south and east sides which still stands up to 3.5m high. To the west of the moated site is a large rectangular mound and there are other small irregular mounds to the south west of the moat. These are likely to be spoil heaps from the original digging of the site and pond

(Scheduling Report)

the house which Sir John Lovel in 1304 obtained licence to crenellate, and which in the inquisition on his death (1346–7) was described as moated round and enclosed with a stone wall after the manner of a castle. In 1363, however, the castle is returned as being in a ruinous condition, (fn. 10) and no part of it now remains above ground. An excavation of the site by Sir Henry Dryden in 1887, however, revealed considerable remains of the lower portion of numerous buildings, apparently of two different periods, some of the older having been destroyed before the others were erected. It was found impossible from the fragmentary nature of the remains and the confusion of the plan to appropriate the greater number of the buildings or to decide the period of their erection. The material was all of limestone, and Sir Henry Dryden was of the opinion that the earliest building on the site had been bounded by a wall nearly circular in plan, inclosing several irregular buildings, of which some of the foundations uncovered were portions. This first building he assumed to have been pulled down when the house was reconstructed by Sir John Lovel, and he conjectured that it was an early castle, built, as he suggests, by the Ferrers family, but possibly by the grandsons or greatgrandsons of Saswalo, the Domesday holder, in the latter part of the 12th century. If this was so, the present quadrangular moat is of early 14th century date, and belongs to Sir John Lovel's building, the lower parts of whose external walls were laid bare along the greater part of four sides, from 12 in. to 8 ft. in height above the bottom of the moat. The space inclosed was an irregular parallelogram, (The measurements from outside to outside of opposite walls are thus given: north-east side about 238 ft., south-west about 257 ft., south-east about 220 ft., north-west about 210 ft.) and at three of the angles were found the foundations of five-sided towers projecting from the walls; the north-west angle had disappeared. (VCH)

Titchmarsh Castle (TL 02457952; Fig. 109; Plate 10), in the village on the S. side of High Street, on flat land at 170 ft. above OD. The site is that of one of the manor houses of the village, which passed to the Lovell family in the mid 13th century. In 1304 John Lovell obtained a licence to crenellate his house which, on his death in 1346–7, was described as moated round and enclosed with a stone wall after the manner of a castle. In 1363 it was described as being in a ruinous condition. (VCH Northants., II (1906), 413; III (1930), 143–4)

The site consists of a small rectangular enclosure, surrounded by a ditch up to 3 m. deep and with no indication of an original entrance. The interior is much disturbed and uneven as a result of excavation, but traces of stone wall-footings along the edge of the ditch survive on the E. side ('a' on Fig. 109). Immediately outside the ditch on the W. side is a large rectangular mound up to 2 m. high, of unknown purpose ('b'), while near the S.W. corner are two irregular mounds, probably spoil-heaps from the original ditch-digging ('c'). To the S.W. is a rectangular pond of considerable size set into the valley side and connected to the castle ditch by a narrow channel. The water was held in this pond by a massive bank or dam on its S. and E. sides, which still stands up to 3.5 m. high.

The site was extensively excavated in 1887 when numerous limestone buildings were discovered in the interior; these were said to be of two periods. The buildings of the first period were surrounded by a wall of almost circular plan, and these were destroyed by the rectangular moat, enclosing buildings, belonging to the second period. These later buildings were bounded by a wall with five-sided towers at its four corners. (Ass. Arch. Soc. Reps., XXI (1891–2), 243–52; drawings in Northampton Public Library) (RCHME)

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTL024795
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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. 252-3
  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of the East Midlands (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 83
  • Emery, Anthony, 2000, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 2 East Anglia, Central England and Wales (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 183
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 318
  • RCHME, 1975, An inventory of the historical monuments in the County of Northampton Vol. 1: North-east Northamptonshire (HMSO) p. 99-100 plate 10 online transcription
  • Page, Wm (ed), 1930, VCH Northamptonshire Vol. 3 p. 142-9 (tenurial history) online transcription
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Downman, E.A., 1906, 'Ancient Earthworks' in Serjeantson, R.M., Ryland, W. and Adkins, D. (eds), VCH Northamptonshire Vol. 2 p. 413 (as homestead moat) online copy
  • Dryden, Sir H., 1903, Memorials of Old Northamptonshire (London) p. 24-30
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 404 online copy


  • 1976, South Midlands Archaeology: CBA Group 9 Newsletter Vol. 6 p. 24-6 online copy
  • Dryden, Sir H., 1892, Associated Architectural Societies' reports and papers (Lincoln, York, Northampton, Bedford, Worcester, Leicester and Sheffield ) Vol. 21 p. 247-8

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1898, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward I (1301-1307) Vol. 4 p. 290 (Licence to crenellate) online copy
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1906, Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Edward II Vol. 5 p. 289-90 no. 520 view online copy
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1916, Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Edward III Vol. 9 p. 24-5 no. 44 view online copy
  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 345-6


  • 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. 563-66
  • Monika E. Simon, 1999, The Lovells of Titchmarsh. A Late Medieval Baronial Family (1297-148?)' (unpubl. DPhil Thesis, University of York) Available via EThOS