Rochford Tower

Has been described as a Certain Tower House

There are major building remains

NameRochford Tower
Alternative NamesKyme Tower; Richmond Tower; Skirbeck
Historic CountryLincolnshire
Modern AuthorityLincolnshire
1974 AuthorityLincolnshire
Civil ParishFishtoft

The medieval fortified house at Rochford Tower survives well as a series of standing remains and buried deposits. Rochford Tower is rare as one of an unusual group of medieval fortified houses on the edge of the Lincolnshire fenland. It will preserve valuable evidence of the way in which this group of high status sites inter-related as distinctive components of the medieval landscape. It is also a rare example of the early use of locally produced brick.

The monument includes the standing and buried remains of a medieval brick fortified house at Rochford Tower. The house is believed to have been built in the late 15th to early 16th century, taking its name from the Rochford family, who were associated with the area from the 13th century. In 1504 the property was granted to the Abbot of Westminster and, from about 1600 until 1816, was owned by the Kyme family and became known as 'Kyme Tower', although it was subsequently known as Rochford Tower. The building formerly included a two storey range adjoining the north side of the tower. This range was dismantled in 1807 when the present house was built again to the north of the tower. The monument includes the standing tower, which is a Listed Building Grade I, and the buried remains of the former range.

The tower is rectangular in plan, measuring approximately 9m by 8m, and stands four storeys high, with a crenellated parapet and turrets at the angles of the tower. The structure is chiefly of red brick, laid in English bond, with stone window dressings. At ground floor level there is a brick vaulted chamber, or undercroft, which would have provided a storage or secure holding area. There is a later brick wall dividing the chamber in two. An entrance is provided in the east wall and an arched doorway in the north wall; there is also a small window in the west wall

Projecting from the south east corner is an octagonal turret with an external door at ground level leading to the stone stair which rises around a central pillar to provide access to the upper storeys and to the roof. The stair turret is lit by narrow vertical openings.

The second storey chamber has a window opening in the west wall with ashlar dressings with a later, 17th century, window built into the original opening. In the north wall is a blocked doorway which formerly gave access to the adjoining range. The third and fourth storeys each have a blocked window with brick mouldings in the west wall. Fireplaces were provided in the south wall of the tower. The upper storeys of the tower would have provided private accommodation.

The tower was formerly part of a larger building, shown by the bonding scars of a two storey range on the exterior of the northern wall of the tower. The range, forming part of the domestic accommodation, was provided with a communicating doorway to the tower at second storey level. The former range, running north from the tower, will survive as buried foundation remains with associated features.

Rochford Tower is one of a number of fortified houses surviving within a small area of the Lincolnshire fenland. It has close architectural parallels with Hussey Tower, 3km to the west, and with Tower on the Moor at Woodhall Spa and Tattershall Castle, all constructed during the same period. The tower is an example of the early use of brick which was probably locally produced at Boston. (Scheduling Report)

Tower. c.1460 with minor C17 alterations and C19 partial restoration. Red brick in English bond with ashlar dressings. Roof now vanished. The tower was attached to a contemporary hall block, demolished 1807. 3 storey with ground floor undercroft, vaulted in brick. Single bay. Roll moulding to base with added plinth. Embattled parapet with shaped brick coping, trefoil headed dummy machicolations. Corbelled out octagonal corner turrets with roll moulding to base and small battlements. On the west front a small opening light to undercroft. To main first floor a large segmental headed window opening with moulded ashlar surround and chamfered cill, now containing C17 wooden cross mullioned 3 light window. To second and third floors are single blank openings with chamfered brick reveals and 4 centred arched heads. On the south side a single opening with brick arched head to second floor. On the right hand side an octagonal stair turret with narrow vertical lights and battlemented parapet. To the top stage a corbelled out brick chimney with roll mouldings, chamfers and dentils to the corbel. On the east side a double chamfered shallow 4 centred doorway to undercroft and a small pointed headed light. To first floor a large window as the west side. On the north side a 4 centred arched doorway to undercroft and above a blocked doorway to vanished hall block. The toothing in scars of the adjoining walls of this 2 storey block can be seen. To second floor a small 4 centred brick arched opening. Interior. Brick vaulted undercroft contains 3 pointed headed niches. Stone newel stair in turret. Wall painting on first floor now vanished, on plaster; 4 centred brick arched fireplaces. Straight doorway through to now vanished connecting building. Series of blocked holes in interior at high level, perhaps indicating previous use as dovecote. On the north side a C18 lead pipe and spout with iron handle and timber support. A topographical print, dated 1811, published by W. Clarke, from a drawing by W. Brand, shows the attached hall block running north, with crow stepped gables and 3 light 4 centred arched window. The property was granted to the Abbot and Church of Westminster by Henry VII in 1504, and held by the Rochford family. Source: Thompson, History of Boston. Other similar towers exist at Tower on the Moor, Woodhall Spa, Hussey Tower, Boston. (Listed Building Report)

A late 15th to early 16th century brick structure, with stone windows, embattled parapet and corner stairway, that is now derelict. There are considerable foundations in the enclosure adjacent to the tower. The tower takes its name from the Rochford family mentioned as early as 1274. Sir Ralph Rochford was living here in 1390. The present tower was probably built about 1504, when the property was granted to the Abbot of Westminster. An adjoining house of that period was taken down in 1807. From about 1600 until 1816, the property was owned by the Kyme family and became known as Kyme Tower. It is published as such on the Ordnance Survey 1 inch map of 1824. It is scheduled as Rochford Tower. Cropmarks both rectangular and circular are visible on an aerial photograph at TF 350446 and possibly indicate associated structures. A red-brick tower resembling Hussey Tower at Boston: both are humbler progeny of Tattershall Castle, in the tower-house tradition. The date is about 1450-60. It has an embattled parapet, turrets corbelled out at the angles and the octagonal stair at the south-east angle communicates with three floors. Some windows are of stone, and two have a little tracery. There is a brick-vaulted ground-floor room or basement. In the first-floor room there are traces of wall paintings, now very weathered showing St Anne teaching the Virgin, the Annunciation, St Michael, St Anthony, and a coat of arms supported by angels. (Lincolnshire HER)

Gatehouse Comments

D.J.C. King rejected this as never forming part of a defensible structure although that seems both a harsh rejection on King's own terms and to be quite wrong on the bases of the more complex multi-factorial understanding of medieval fortified buildings favoured by modern writers. In fact this building is not well described and tends to be mentioned generally as an aside in descriptions of more readily accessible towers of a similar type and age notably Hussey Tower at Boston. It, and several other C15 brick towers in Lincolnshire, clearly take their inspiration from brick great tower of Tattershall Castle.

- 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 ReferenceTF350445
Latitude52.9807395935059
Longitude0.0105799995362759
Eastings535070
Northings344510
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved

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Books

  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of the East Midlands (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 58
  • < >Emery, Anthony, 2000, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 2 East Anglia, Central England and Wales (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 224 < >
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 144
  • Pevsner, Nikolaus and John Harris; revised by Nicholas Antram, 1989, Buildings of England: Lincolnshire (Harmondsworth) p. 278
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 265 (reject)
  • Pevsner, Nikolaus, 1964, Buildings of England: Lincolnshire (Harmondsworth) p. 265
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 1 p. 434 online copy
  • Thompson, P., 1856, The Histories and Antiquities of Boston (Boston: John Noble, jun.) p. 319-22 online copy

Journals

  • 1979, Lincolnshire History and Archaeology Vol. 14
  • Trollope, E., 1870, Lincolnshire Architectural and Archaeological Society reports and papers Vol. 10 p. 207 online copy

Other

  • Historic England, 2015, Heritage at Risk East Midlands Register 2015 (London: Historic England) p. 23 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2014, Heritage at Risk Register 2014 East Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 23 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2013, Heritage at Risk Register 2013 East Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 23 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2012, Heritage at Risk Register 2012 East Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 37 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011 East Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 35 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010 East Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 17 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2009, Heritage at Risk Register 2009 East Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 38 online copy
  • English Heritage. 1999. Revised scheduling document 31626. MPP 23