King John's Castle, Tewkesbury

Has been described as a Rejected Masonry Castle, and also as a Rejected Fortified Manor House, and also as a Possible Pele Tower, and also as a Questionable Palace (Other)

There are major building remains

NameKing John's Castle, Tewkesbury
Alternative NamesMythe Castle
Historic CountryGloucestershire
Modern AuthorityGloucestershire
1974 AuthorityGloucestershire
Civil ParishTewkesbury

Detached house. Medieval and mid C16. Coursed lias stone, tile roof. PLAN: a former staircase tower, from the medieval building, to which abuts, on the W side, a cross-gabled Tudor house; the full width of the back has late C20 single storey additions. The title of 'Castle' seems to be a misnomer, as no firm evidence for a castle here. In 2 parts; to left a broad gabled front, and to right the tower. Windows generally are set flush, with stone recessed hollow-mould mullions and transoms, under drip moulds, and with diagonal leading. The gabled block, in 3 storeys with attic, has a small square light above a 3-light casement to the gable, and two 3-light casements, off-centre left, to the first and ground floors, paired under the drip-courses. To the right a C20 part-glazed door in a wide wood frame. A string runs full width at the base of the gables, which are not coped. EXTERIOR: the tower, in the same front plane, is in 3 slightly recessed stages with string courses. Ground floor has a lofty 2-light casement with transom, the string course slightly lifted over, and, at second floor left a blocked former doorway to a 4-centred head. A decorative cast-iron rainwater hopper and downpipe runs down this front. Return, left has a small square light to the gable, at first floor left a 12-pane sash in flush rough-worked stone surround, and a late C20 two-light casement ground floor, right, to concrete lintel and cill. To the left a single storey crenellated addition of 1991. The back has a decorative Tudor brick twin stack, joined at the cappings, on a stone base externally central to the gable, and a 2-light casement, left, to the staircase. The right return has a brick and tile C20 gabled extension to the right of the tower, which has various 2-light casements, disposed to correspond with stair or landing levels within. 3 casements to the top stage, 2 of these blocked, and 2 at the middle stage

The ground stage has a blocked door to 4-centred head to the left, and a small slit to dressed stone surround to the right. Beyond the tower a part of the E gable to the Tudor wing projects, and contains one small square light. INTERIOR: a narrow entrance hall, with a straight-flight stair to winders at the landings, has a principal room to each side. That to the left, formerly a kitchen, has a wide fire opening to heavy unmoulded lintel and surround, and an inserted partition set to a window mullion. To right the tower has a plain square room; no internal evidence for the supposed original staircase. At first floor the tower room has blocked doorway to 4-centred chamfered head on plain jambs, and door from staircase is similar, but has one jamb marked out to form a chamfer which was not cut. At the second floor to left of staircase is a heavy square-panel timber-framed partition containing 2 door openings, one, now filled, with a peaked head. The partition lies under one of the A-frame roof trusses. Room to left has a projecting plain stone fire surround with very deep overmantel with moulded cornice, and on brackets to the flat square jambs; to left, a deep square candle recess. The tower room has a blocked doorway similar to that on floor below. HISTORICAL NOTE: the Castle, probably the seat of the Manor of Mythe, belonged to the Abbey, and formerly also had a free-standing chapel. The extent of the earlier house is not known; reported that when additions were made to the N side, no remains of any kind were located during excavations. The tower had a fourth stage, removed in the early C19, when the remaining stages were also stepped back. In the mid C18 the Castle was replaced as the chief house of the estate by Mythe Court (qv), built just to the S. (Victoria County History: Gloucestershire: London: 1968-: 135; The Gentleman's Magazine: London: 1818-1820). (Listed Building Report)

Gatehouse Comments

Over looked by the usual castle studies authorities. Is this because it obviously wasn't a castle and had the clearly fantastical 'King John' attribution? If this was a house in the northern marches it would be undoubtable recorded as a pele tower.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

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 ReferenceSO889341
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  • Elrington, C.R. (ed), 1968, 'The borough of Tewkesbury: Manors and other estates' VCH Gloucestershire Vol. 8 p. 131-137 online copy
  • Verey, D., 1970, The Buildings of England: Gloucestershire Vol. 2 The Vale and Forest of Dean
  • Bennett, J., 1830, The History of Tewkesbury p. 269-70 online copy


  • 1885-6, 'Transactions of Tewkesbury' Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society Vol. 10 p. 147-8 online copy