Collyweston House

Has been described as a Questionable Masonry Castle, and also as a Questionable Palace (Royal), and also as a Possible Fortified Manor House

There are earthwork remains

NameCollyweston House
Alternative Names
Historic CountryNorthamptonshire and the Soke of Peterborough
Modern AuthorityNorthamptonshire
1974 AuthorityNorthamptonshire
Civil ParishCollyweston

The Castle at Collyweston was probably built by Sir William Porter during the reign of Henry V and Henry VI (1413-1461). The building later became a royal palace being the residence of Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII.

About 1741 the structure was described as ruinous but comprising a great hall, tower, dungeon and kitchen (Ass. Arch. Soc. Rep. 1906).

Collyweston house built 1412-1441. Enlarged or rebuilt late fifteenth century. Adjacent pt 1412-1441. Enlarged or rebuilt late fifteenth century. Adjacent park enclosed during fifteenth century.

1720 house pulled down and park disparked. Materials removed 1780-82. House site enclosed by seventeenth or eighteenth century stone wall: no other structural remains. Earthworks include terraces, probably for gardens, and two fishponds fed by natural springs with earth banks up to 3.5m high. Park boundaries survive as fragmentary low banks (RCHME; VCH; HKW). (PastScape)

After an uneventful history the manor of Collyweston was sold, soon after 1412, to Sir William Porter who is traditionally said to have been lowly-born but to have later acquired wealth. He is also thought to have begun the building of Collyweston House. After his death the land and house were sold in 1441 to Ralph Lord Cromwell, who lived at Collyweston and apparently enlarged or rebuilt the house. There followed an illdocumented and confused period of ownership, but by the end of the 15th century the house had passed into the hands of the Crown. By this time the park was already in existence; it was probably enclosed either by Porter or by Cromwell. The Crown's first tenant, Margaret Countess of Richmond, was granted the manor in 1486. She spent a considerable time there and is said to have improved the house and grounds. After her death in 1509, it was used by the Duke of Richmond, Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth. There is mention of a 'great walnut tree in the outward court' in Tudor times

In 1607 Camden recorded that the house was handsome and elegant. Charles I granted the manor to Patrick Mawle who later sold it to Sir Robert Heath. In 1631 Heath obtained permission to enclose a new park from the woodlands, because the old park 'is of but 108 acres and has no covert'. This new park, if it was ever made, was perhaps in the S. of the parish, and centred on Collyweston Great Wood. By 1720 the house is said to have been entirely pulled down and the park disparked; the 'materials' from it were finally removed in 1780–82 (VCH Northants., II (1906), 551–3; Ass. Arch. Soc. Rep., XXVIII (1906), 569–74; Earl of Exeter's Day Books, 1780–82, Burghley Estate Office, Stamford).

The House stood on the crest of the slope at the W. edge of the village (SK 99450287). No trace remains, except for a high stone wall of 17th or 18th-century date enclosing the site, an elaborate sundial of the 18th century and a set of well-marked scarps up to 1.5 m. high in an area largely landscaped in the late 19th century. The adjacent areas to the S. and W. have been mostly built over and divided into gardens and paddocks, but remains of the Gardens exist in two places. To the S.S.E. of the House ('a' on Fig. 41) is a group of long terraces and platforms, separated by scarps up to 0.5 m. high, mostly running parallel to the natural slope; these terraces may be the remains of a long rectangular garden set axially with the house. To the W. of the House ('b' on Fig. 41) are two rather degraded terraces up to 1.5 m. high and below them a set of smaller terraces together with a bank which is the remains of a stone wall. These also appear to be parts of a formal garden. (RCHME 1975)

Gatehouse Comments

William Porter's C15 house was probably of some size and may well have domestic defences and martial decoration but can not have been a military building.

- Philip Davis

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 ReferenceSK994028
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  • Thurley, Simon, 1993, The Royal Palaces of Tudor England (Yale University Press) p. 78, 81
  • Jones, M.K., 1987, 'Collyweston - an early Tudor Palace' in Williams, D. (ed), England in the Fifteenth Century (Woodbridge: Boydell Press)
  • Colvin, H.M., Ransome, D.R. and Summerson, John, 1982, The history of the King's Works, Vol. 4: 1485-1660 (part 2) (London) p. 67-8
  • English Heritage, 1984, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Northamptonshire Vol. 6: Architectural Monuments in North Northamptonshire p. 33 online transcription
  • RCHME, 1975, An inventory of the historical monuments in the County of Northampton Vol. 1: North-east Northamptonshire (HMSO) p. 30 online transcription
  • Serjeantson, R.M., Ryland, W. and Adkins, D. (eds), 1906, VCH Northamptonshire Vol. 2 p. 551-3 online copy


  • 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. 329, 332
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1907, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 1 p. 22 online copy; Vol. 4 p. 91 [online copy >]


  • 1906, Associated Architectural Societies' reports and papers (Lincoln, York, Northampton, Bedford, Worcester, Leicester and Sheffield) Vol. 28 p. 569-74

Primary Sources