Mackworth Castle

Has been described as a Questionable Timber Castle (Motte), and also as a Questionable Fortified Manor House

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameMackworth Castle
Alternative NamesMarkeaton
Historic CountryDerbyshire
Modern AuthorityDerbyshire
1974 AuthorityDerbyshire
Civil ParishMackworth

Remains of C15 gatehouse, which formerly led to the courtyard of fortified manor house. The standing remains comprise the facade and part of the outer side walls of a two storey sandstone building. On the ground floor is a round arched central gateway which, originally, would have been flanked by side chambers containing staircases, leading to the guard chamber on the upper floor. The surviving walls of the first floor guardchamber exhibit evidence of a fireplace and show that the room was lit by straight headed, two light windows. The roof is crenellated and has corner turrets. The facade of the building is decorated above the gateway with carved stone heads and waterspouts. (PastScape)

The standing buried and earthwork remains of the abandoned areas of the medieval settlement of Mackworth and Mackworth Castle gatehouse are particularly well preserved. The remains are extensive and as such provide a good picture of the layout of the medieval village and how it fitted within the wider landscape. Taken as a whole the medieval settlement remains of Mackworth will add greatly to our knowledge and understanding of the development, status, organisation and decline of medieval settlement in the area.

The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of the abandoned areas of Mackworth medieval settlement and part of the associated open field system. It also includes the standing and buried remains of the 15th century gatehouse, which formerly led to the courtyard of the fortified manor house known as Mackworth Castle. The monument is within five areas of protection; three to the north of Lower Road and two to the south. The settlement is linear in design and lies on a south east to north west alignment with houses positioned either side of Lower Road. Lower Road is medieval in origin and provides the only route through the village but has been bypassed, to the south, by Ashbourne Road which itself originated as a post-medieval turnpike road

Mackworth is first mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 where it is recorded that Macheuorde, as it was then known, was a berewick of Marchetone (Markeaton). A berewick was a settlement which was physically separate from the village where the lord lived but was still governed as part of the manorial estate. There was, at this time, a priest and church recorded on the manor but this was at nearby Markeaton, not Mackworth. There was certainly a church at Mackworth by 1200 when Mathew Touchet was recorded as the rector there, but no evidence of such an early church is visible in the architecture of the present church building, the earliest remains of which are thought to date to the late 14th century. At the western end of the settlement, in the first area of protection, to the north of Lower Road, are the standing and buried remains of Mackworth Castle gatehouse. The standing remains, which are Listed Grade I, comprise the facade and part of the outer side walls of a two storey sandstone building. On the ground floor is a round arched central gateway which, originally, would have been flanked by side chambers containing staircases, leading to the guard chamber on the upper floor. The remains of these staircases, together with the floors and wall foundations of the side chambers, will survive as buried features beneath the relatively modern brick outbuildings now flanking the gate. The walls of these later structures probably also conceal architectural detail which will provide further evidence of the arrangements within the gatehouse. The medieval floor of the gate passage will also survive as a buried feature beneath the modern farm track which passes through the gate. The surviving walls of the first floor guardchamber exhibit evidence of a fireplace and show that the room was lit by straight headed, two light windows. There is likely to have been access to the roof which is crenellated and has corner turrets. The facade of the building is decorated above the gateway with carved stone heads and waterspouts. The precise origins of Mackworth Castle are unclear. It is possible that the 15th century fortified manorial complex was built on the same site as earlier timber built complexes dating back to the 11th century. The castle, better described as a fortified house, itself may have been built some time after August 1404 when the brothers John and Thomas Mackworth were granted the right to bear part of the arms of Audley and Touchet. Thomas was founder of the family line that subsequently held the estate at Mackworth until, according to a Deed of Conveyance dated 16th June 1655, it was sold by Sir Thomas Mackworth to Sir John Curzon. To the north and west of Castle Farm and extending down to Mackworth Brook are earthworks which survive up to a height of approximately 0.75m. Included within these are two large building platforms, that to the west of the farm measures approximately 41m by 32m and that to the north measures 42m by 34m. Both platforms are defined by ditches but that to the west also has an internal bank. To the east of the northernmost platform are further earthworks which suggest the remains of other medieval buildings. The earthworks in the southern part of this area indicate a courtyard arrangement of buildings with the standing remains of the gatehouse forming the southern range. The existing farmhouse, outbuildings, yard, and paddock to the west of the farm, all lie within the extent of the medieval courtyard. These are not included in the scheduling. To the north of the courtyard the earthworks indicate the site of further medieval buildings. The second area of protection lies to the east of Mackworth House Farm and again includes well preserved earthworks which survive to a height of up to 1m. The area extends over three fields which are divided by two boundaries, one which runs north west to south east and another which runs north east to south west. That which runs north west to south east respects the line of a sunken track which runs from Lower Road before turning to the south east just north of the field boundary. The sunken track terminates at the second field boundary. The track, which is now only used as a farm track, is known locally as Pinfold Lane and is believed to have provided access to Pinfold Cottages. No buildings of this name survive today but the series of banks and ditches to the north of the track indicate the site of building platforms and are again known locally as the site of Pinfold Cottages. The name of both the lane and the cottages make reference to the village pound or pinfold which is also included within the south east corner of this area. The pinfold, which is a small triangular shaped enclosure is situated to the west of a short row of houses and to the north of Lower Road. A pinfold was used to detain cattle and other animals either as a penalty for straying and causing damage, or as an indemnity against debt or default. Between the site of Pinfold Cottages and Lower Road further earthworks represent part of the medieval open field system. The surviving remains are visible as parts of three medieval furlongs (groups of lands or cultivation strips) which are slightly terraced down to the north and are separated by headlands. The cultivation strips collectively form ridge and furrow. The headlands survive to a height of approximately 0.5m but the ridge and furrow is more degraded and slight in appearance and is most clearly visible from aerial photographs. The layout of the pinfold, the sunken track and Pinfold Cottages suggest that the field remains are later in date and overlay an earlier village green which originally had the pinfold in a corner. This is a typical position for a pinfold. The third area of protection lies at the eastern end of the village and includes the fields to the north, south and west of the church. Although some of the earthworks in this area have been degraded and are difficult to interpret on the ground an earthwork survey of this area has identified several phases of village development. The northern limit of the earthworks is marked by two roughly parallel ditches about 0.1m deep, running east to west. The line of the ditches continues into the field to the west but here the line is defined by a high bank. To the south of this bank lies ridge and furrow and to the north the medieval meadow. To the north of the church but south of the bank, a series of irregular platforms survive to a height of approximately 0.3m and are set on a larger platform which shelves down to ground level near the church on the western side. The platforms are interpreted as the sites of late medieval buildings. To the south of the church are two main areas of earthworks which are separated by a large ditch which runs east to west across most of the width of the field. The ditch survives to a depth of 0.85m. Adjacent to the churchyard wall are two rectangular platforms which are aligned east to west and which survive to a height of up to 0.15m. Again, the platforms are interpreted as the sites of medieval buildings. To the east of these is a north to south aligned hollow way which extends approximately 25m south of the churchyard wall. To the south of the large ditch a narrow bank marks the break of the slope and is associated with two platforms which abut it to the south. The bank and platforms continue on the same alignment of the present village and suggest that the settlement has undergone at least one period of contraction. To the south of this is another bank which survives to a height of 0.75m and is approximately 4m wide. This and the now disused lane to the south occupy the edge of a slightly higher terrace which continues the alignment of the present village street. It is suggested that earthworks in this part of the monument represent the remains of late medieval houses and indicate contraction of the village possibly during the population decline which is known to have affected this part of Derbyshire in the mid-14th century. It is thought that these earthworks mask early medieval development of the settlement which was likely to have formed the nucleus of the village next to the church. With the fall in the population in the mid-14th century, it was the settlement on the lower more poorly drained land that tended to be the first to be abandoned. The villages of Mackworth and Markeaton have been served by one church since the time of the Domesday Book in 1086. It was first at Markeaton but the known list of rectors and vicars at Mackworth goes back to 1200. The existing church dates from the early 14th century with alterations having been carried out in the 15th century. The whole of the church was restored in 1851 when the organ chamber and vestry were also added. Considerable internal additions were made in the latter half of the 19th century and the early 20th century. As both the church and churchyard remain in ecclesiastical use they are totally excluded from the scheduling. The fourth area of protection lies to the south of Lower Road and to the west of Church Lane where the land slopes quite steeply down to the north. The earthworks within this area take two basic forms, those to the south and east represent the well preserved remains of the medieval open field system whilst those to the north indicate the sites of more house platforms. In the northern half of the field which lies directly south of the village hall, is a very clearly defined platform surrounded by a substantial ditch. The platform which is terraced into the slope, is situated on the top of a steep bank which runs along the southern edge of Lower Road. Remains of another platform are also visible on a second terrace to the south although the northern edge of this platform is slightly degraded. For most of its length the southern edge of Lower Road is defined by a steep bank suggesting its origins as a sunken medieval track or hollow way. In the field to the east another series of building platforms are evident along the southern edge of Lower Road but towards the centre of this field the platforms appear to lie at right angles to the road. These platforms are associated with a series of terraced, rectangular, enclosures which are aligned east to west and separated by low banks. The south and east edge of this series of enclosures are defined by headlands which divide the enclosures from the open field system. The surviving remains of the open field system are visible as parts of five furlongs. Adjacent to Lower Road there is some evidence of post-medieval quarrying which has caused some degradation of the earthworks. These are difficult to interpret on the ground but the remains are clearly visible from aerial photographs. The fifth area of protection lies at the western end of the village between Jarveys Lane and Gold Lane. Within this area the earthworks represent the well preserved remains of the open field system, sections of a hollow way and enclosures. In the field to the west of Gold Lane there are indications of a small house platform at its northern end. Gold Lane is itself a hollow way and probably of medieval origin. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

The Gatehouse is thin walled and not really defensive and it is probably that the rest of the 'castle' was timber framed buildings long demolished. However this is a form fairly typical for most houses granted a licence to crenellate and, therefore by some definitions, this was a fortified manor houses. Suggested as the site of a timber motte-and-bailey castle on the Earl of Chester's Markeaton manor, and that this was in fact the origin of the elusive castle at Mackworth for which no evidence has yet been found. The castle is located at one end of the, now mainly lost, village with the church at the other end (A relatively new turnpike road distorts the medieval layout) in a fairly typical village layout which does suggest the Castle sits on the site of the early manorial centre. Any early castle, which need not have actually been a motte and could have been quite slight, is now lost from view although geophysical survey might locate it.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 1 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 ReferenceSK313378
Latitude52.9369201660156
Longitude-1.53522002696991
Eastings431320
Northings337780
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Photograph by Andrew Herrett. All rights reserved
Photograph by Andrew Herrett. All rights reserved
Photograph by Andrew Herrett. All rights reserved
Photograph by Andrew Herrett. All rights reserved
Photograph by Andrew Herrett. All rights reserved
Photograph by Andrew Herrett. All rights reserved
Photograph by Andrew Herrett. All rights reserved

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Books

  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of the East Midlands (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 23
  • Craven, Maxwell and Stanley, Michael, 2001, The Derbyshire Country House (Landmark Publishing) Vol. 1 p. 145-6
  • Emery, Anthony, 2000, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 2 East Anglia, Central England and Wales (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 413
  • Turbutt, Gladwyn, 1999, A History of Derbyshire Vol. 2 (Merton Priory Press)
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 51
  • Salter, Mike, 1993, Midlands Castles (Birmingham) p. 61
  • Smith, Michael E., 1992, Castles and Manor Houses in and around Derbyshire (Derby)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 111
  • Pevsner, Nikolaus revised by Elizabeth Williamson, 1978, Buildings of England: Derbyshire (Harmondsworth) p. 177
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Cox, J.C., 1905, 'Ancient Earthworks' in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Derbyshire Vol. 1 p. 384 online copy
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 1 p. 470-1 online copy
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 193-4, 222 online copy

Journals

  • Speight, Sarah, 2008, 'Castles as Past Culture: Living with Castles in the Post-Medieval World' Cha^teau Gaillard Vol. 23 p. 385-94 (slight)
  • Bailey, G., 1911, 'Mackworth Castle' Derbyshire Archaeological Journal Vol. 33 p. 204-8
  • Kerry, C., 1889, 'Mackworth: its castle and its owners' Derbyshire Archaeological Journal Vol. 11 p. 1-8 online copy