Lea Castle

Has been described as a Certain Tower House

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameLea Castle
Alternative NamesLee; Lye; Lay
Historic CountryShropshire
Modern AuthorityShropshire
1974 AuthorityShropshire
Civil ParishLydham

Despite its ruinous condition, having been used as a source of stone for the construction of later buildings, the tower keep castle at Lower Lea is a good example of this class of monument. The extant and buried remains of the tower keep will provide significant information about the construction and development of tower keep castles in the Welsh Marches. The buried deposits within and immediately surrounding the tower keep will contain artefactual remains, which will provide important evidence about the social standing and lifestyles of the castle's inhabitants. The importance of the castle is further enhanced by the documentary references regarding its ownership in the 14th and 17th centuries.

The monument includes the standing structural and buried remains of a tower keep castle at Lower Lea, which forms part of the hamlet of Lea. The tower keep is believed to have been built in the late 13th or early 14th century for the Corbet family. The earliest known occupant, Robert Corbet, is mentioned in a document of about 1328-29. The Corbets were still in possession of the castle in 1645 when Parliament ordered a Royalist garrison to be removed and the castle destroyed. A farmhouse, of probable 17th or 18th century date, was built immediately next to the tower keep to the south. The farmhouse was enlarged in the mid-19th century and contains a wooden panel inscribed with a date of 1560, which has been reset into the modern extension. A 19th century cartshed and granary abut the remains of the tower keep to the north. The tower keep, farmhouse, cartshed and granary are all Listed Buildings Grade II.

The tower keep occupies a slightly elevated position in an area of undulating land and is overlooked by higher ground to the south east. The tower keep is rectangular in plan, with three of its walls extant and standing to a maximum height of 9m. The extant remains measure approximately 10m east-west by 13m north-south, with walls about 2.5m thick

The tithe map of 1844 shows the outline of the tower keep prior to the demolition of the northern part of the building and the construction of the granary and cartshed. It would appear from this map that the tower keep was originally about 16m long (north-south). The foundations of the northern part of the building, together with the contemporary remains of internal floor and external yard surfaces, will survive as buried features. The tower keep is a three-storeyed structure with a basement, a first floor hall, and private chambers above. It is constructed of coursed limestone rubble with dressed sandstone around the door and window openings. In the southern wall of the basement is a splayed opening, blocked with stone and incorporating a modern wooden lintel. Along the western wall the division between the basement and the first floor is marked by a scarecement (a ledge created by the additional thickness of the lower part of the wall to support floor joists). At first floor level in the south western corner of the building are the remains of two blocked doorways. Access to the first floor from outside was through the doorway in the southern wall, visible as a pointed (four-centred) arch with a portcullis groove and drawbar holes. Next to this doorway in the southern wall is a splayed window opening, adjacent to an external stone balcony with a dressed sandstone plinth and supported by four dressed sandstone corbels. Access from the first and second floors would have been by means of an internal circular stairway, remains of which were noted in 1858 prior to the demolition of the northern part of the building. In 1844 excavations, undertaken in the course of building work close to the tower keep, found the remains of an arch about five feet (1.5m) wide and five feet high. (Scheduling Report)

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 2 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 ReferenceSO351891
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Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image

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  • Historic England, 2016, Heritage at Risk West Midlands Register 2016 (London: Historic England) p. 15 online copy
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