Somerton Castle, Lincolnshire

Has been described as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameSomerton Castle, Lincolnshire
Alternative Names
Historic CountryLincolnshire
Modern AuthorityLincolnshire
1974 AuthorityLincolnshire
Civil ParishBoothby Graffoe

Antony Bek, Bishop of Durham, received a licence to crenellate in 1281 from Edward I. The castle was built in the most up-to-date style of the time, that of the Welsh castles. It is quadrangular, with circular towers at the angles, curtain walls, and surrounded by a moat. The size was 330 by 180ft. In 1309 Antony Bek gave a gift of Somerton Manor to Edward II, himself having received it from his mother, Eva De Grey, 30 years earlier. Some repairs were carried out in 1323-26, but when the castle was surveyed on the accession of Edward III the buildings were in a poor condition. In 1328 the castle was granted to John De Roos for life for a rent of £10 per annum, but 6 years later the King took it back and granted the constableship of Somerton to John Crabbe, a position he held until his death in 1351-52. King John I of France was confined here after being taken prisoner at Poitiers in 1356. Of the original building only the south east tower with three storeys and a conical roof, and the ground floors of the north east and north west towers. The north west tower was mostly demolished in 1849, but the remains of all four circular towers were described in 1856. In 1601 the castle is recorded as being almost completely ruinous, except for the south eastern tower which stood almost to full height. Attached to the south eastern tower is the south front, extended by a wing built in the late sixteenth or early seventeenth century by the Disney family. More curtain wall is thought to survive attached to the south western tower. The L-shaped wing was built in about 1660. The castle seems to have been Crown property until the Victorian period. It is suggested that the moated site to the south of castle was a walled 'grange' mentioned in a survey of 1279, pre-dating the castle, belonging to the De Grey manor. It is also suggested that it was where the Lord's dues were stored, including crops, foodstuffs and livestock

(Lincolshire HER)

Antony Bek, Bishop of Durham, received a licence to crenellate this castle in 1281. Of the original building the following parts remain:-

The SE tower with 3 storeys and a conical roof, and the ground floors of the N.E. and S.W. towers. Attached to the SE tower is the south front extended by an Elizabethan wing before 1595, part of which may be the original curtain wall. More curtain wall is attached to the SW tower base.

King John I of France was confined here after being taken prisoner at Poitiers in 1356.

The castle, which is double moated, remained Crown property till Victorian times.

Scheduled. RB potsherds were found 5 ft down when an inspection pit was dug at SK 95395876 in 1958. (Pevsner; Blagg 1933; Scheduling notice)

Medieval earthworks associated with Somerton Castle were mapped from good quality air photographs. The main feature is a huge ditch (40m wide) and bank running around three sides of a raised platform (at SK 9541 5871) upon which part of the castle may have stood. At the southern edge of this platform is a small pond 36m by 8m. To the north of the present farm are three sides of a long moat, centred at SK 9544 5892. In close proximity to this moat and probably associated with it are three small ponds, ranging in length from 30m to 52m. There are three mounds located near the castle earthworks, two to the east at SK 9554 5883, SK 9553 5880 and one to the west at SK 9535 5890. They are roughly circular, 10m in diameter and of unknown function. To the east of the main earthworks, at SK 9561 5864, is a pond which appears to be of the same type of construction as parts of the castle earthworks.

Immediately south of the main large ditch and bank is a complete, roughly square moat, 80m by 70m, centred at SK 9533 5856 also assumed to be Medieval in date. (Morph Nos. LI.878.1.1 - 1.7) This description is based on data from the RCHME MORPH2 database. (Antonia Kershaw/05-AUG-1996/RCHME: Lincolnshire NMP)

Antony Bek, Bishop of Durham, had inheritted Somerton Castle from his mother, Eva de Grey, and been granted licence to crenellate it in 1281. In 1309 he granted the castle to Edward II. A survey of 1328 showed the great hall, chapel and other buildings to be delapidated, and the foundations of the ange towers undercut by the moat. In 1372, the stables in the outer bailey, which could hold circa 100 horses, collapsed. From 1421 it was little repaired and in 1628 was described as being long a ruin (HKW). (PastScape)

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 ReferenceSK954587
Latitude53.1175193786621
Longitude-0.575550019741058
Eastings495400
Northings358750
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Books

  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 229
  • Osborne, Mike, 2010, Defending Lincolnshire: A Military History from Conquest to Cold War (The History Press) p. 55, 56, 61
  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of the East Midlands (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 60-61
  • Thompson, M.W., 1998, Medieval bishops' houses in England and Wales (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing) p. 134, 175
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 144-5
  • Roffe, David, 1993, 'Castles' in Bennett, S. and Bennett, N. (eds), An Historical Atlas of Lincolnshire (University of Hull Press) p. 40-1
  • Pevsner, Nikolaus and John Harris; revised by Nicholas Antram, 1989, Buildings of England: Lincolnshire (Harmondsworth) p. 640
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 262-3
  • Colvin, H.M., Brown, R.Allen and Taylor, A.J., 1963, The history of the King's Works Vol. 2: the Middle Ages (London: HMSO) p. 838-9
  • 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. 440-2 online copy
  • Timbs, J. and Gunn, A., 1872, Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales Vol. 3 (London) p. 6-9 online copy
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 403 online copy
  • White, W., 1856, History, Gazetteer and Directory of Lincolnshire p. 334
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1853, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 2 p. 238 online copy
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1851, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 1 p. 172-3 online copy
  • Buck, Samuel and Nathaniel, 1774, Buck's Antiquities (London) Vol. 1 p. 175

Antiquarian

Journals

  • Richard Nevell, 2014-15, 'Castles as prisons' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 28 p. 203-224
  • Blagg, T.M., 1933, 'Somerton Castle' Transactions of the Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire Vol. 37 p. 49-60
  • Sutton, 1909, The Archaeological Journal Vol. 66 p. 362-5 online copy
  • Bishop of Nottingham, 1890, 'Somerton Castle: its builder, character, and royal prisoner' Journal of the British Archaeological Association Vol. 46 p. 1-7 (history) online copy
  • Bishop of Nottingham, 1882, 'Somerton Castle' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 39 p. 180-3 online copy
  • Trollope, E., 1857, 'The Captivity of John, King of France, at Somerton Castle, Lincolnshire' Associated Architectural Societies' reports and papers (Lincoln, York, Northampton, Bedford, Worcester, Leicester and Sheffield) Vol. 4 p. 49-64 online copy
  • Trollope, E., 1857, 'Somerton Castle and its Builder' Associated Architectural Societies' reports and papers (Lincoln, York, Northampton, Bedford, Worcester, Leicester and Sheffield) Vol. 4 p. 83-91 online copy

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1901, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward I (1272-81) Vol. 1 p. 440 online copy
  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 293-5
  • C145/149(36) (Survey of 1343) The National Archives reference (calendared in Maxwell Lyte, H.C., 1916, Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous (Chancery), preserved in the Public Record Office (H.M.S.O.) Vol. 2 p. 462 No. 1858 [online copy > https://archive.org/stream/calendarofinqu02grea#page/462/mode/1up])
  • C145/104(8) (Survey of 1327) The National Archives reference (calendared in Maxwell Lyte, H.C., 1916, Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous (Chancery), preserved in the Public Record Office (H.M.S.O.) Vol. 2 p. 233 No. 939 [online copy > https://archive.org/stream/calendarofinqu02grea#page/233/mode/1up])
  • C145/216(2) (Survey of 1378) The National Archives reference (calendared in Evans, D.L. (ed), 1957, Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous (Chancery), preserved in the Public Record Office (H.M.S.O.) Vol. 4 p. 28-9 No. 43 [online copy > http://hdl.handle.net/2027/inu.30000095331652?urlappend=%3Bseq=40])
  • DL3/16 No. 12 (Survey of 16 Henry VIII) The National Archives reference
  • C145/252(13) (Survey of 1393) The National Archives reference
  • C47/67/10(406) (Survey of 6 Edward III)
  • DL44/615 (Survey of 43 Elizabeth) The National Archives reference
  • E101/484/10 (Survey of 1 Edward III) The National Archives reference
  • E142/82(3) (Survey of 1 Edward II) The National Archives reference

Other

  • Historic England, 2015, Heritage at Risk East Midlands Register 2015 (London: Historic England) p. 34 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2014, Heritage at Risk Register 2014 East Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 33 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2013, Heritage at Risk Register 2013 East Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 2 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2012, Heritage at Risk Register 2012 East Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 45 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011 East Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 42 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010 East Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 36 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2009, Heritage at Risk Register 2009 East Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 44 online copy