Cawood Castle

Has been described as a Certain Masonry Castle, and also as a Certain Palace (Bishop)

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameCawood Castle
Alternative NamesThorpe Lane; Carwood; Cawode
Historic CountryYorkshire
Modern AuthorityNorth Yorkshire
1974 AuthorityNorth Yorkshire
Civil ParishCawood

Cawood Castle, a residence of the medieval Archbishops of York, and Castle Garth, an enclosure containing the palace gardens, fishponds and a quarry pit. The castle is situated on the banks of the tidal River Ouse, 1km downstream from the confluence of the River Wharfe, and at a major ferry crossing on the road from Sherburn in Elmet to York, close to its junction with the road from Selby to Tadcaster. The medieval Bishop Dike, now a main land drain but originally a navigable canal linking the town of Sherburn in Elmet to the river, runs adjacent to the castle and there was an important staith (wharf) at Cawood until the 19th century. Although Cawood Castle could and did serve as a military stronghold in time of strife, it was essentially a well-appointed and comfortable palace, the name implying the status of the building rather than its habitual function. The surviving upstanding buildings of the archiepiscopal palace comprise a three-storeyed stone gatehouse which is Grade I Listed and an adjacent two storeyed hall constructed of brick and stone also Grade I Listed, which were built by Archbishop Kempe (1426-52); both structures were recently restored and are now roofed. The buildings represent the south eastern half of the south west range and the foundations of the rest of the range will survive beneath the attached Grade II Listed 17th century house at 2 Thorpe Lane. The palace precinct is bounded to the north west by the Bishop Dike and extended north and east to Old Road, which will have been the riverfront in the medieval period; substantial sections of the limestone precinct wall are visible to a height of up to 3m in places and are incorporated into the modern garden walls. Further east, the precinct wall is no longer visible but it survives below ground and parts of the wall have been recorded during building works

The precinct wall continued along the line of Old Road as far as the junction with Thorpe Lane; there it turned north westwards, following the line of the present Thorpe Lane frontage to a point opposite the end of the south- west range, where it turned south westwards to adjoin the hall. Trial excavations in the private gardens south east of the hall showed that this area lay outside the precinct and was under cultivation, probably as part of the palace garden. Although the area within the precinct was developed for private housing in the 1970s, the substantial foundations of the palace buildings will survive below ground and archaeological observations carried out during building works confirmed that medieval remains are well-preserved. The exact form and arrangement of the buildings of the castle are not fully understood. Documentary sources note the existence of over 40 rooms and buildings including a chapel, brewhouse, hall, kitchen, porter's lodge, bakehouse, library and gallery. It is thought that these may have been arranged around two courtyards; the surviving gatehouse and hall forming one side of one of these courts. The north westward continuation of Thorpe Lane across the palace site was laid out in 1887, to provide a more direct through-route than was formerly available via Old Road; further archaeological remains will survive beneath the modern road surface. The Castle Garth is a medieval enclosure, lying to the south of the palace itself, and comprises a trapezoidal area 180m-300m wide by 260m long. A recent study of the historical development of Cawood has suggested that the Garth originally extended south east to Broad Lane and north east to Water Row, although, with the exception of a small triangle of common land known as Gill Green, these areas have been largely built-over since the medieval period. The north western boundary of the Garth is formed by the Bishop Dike but, while this was originally a medieval canal, it was deepened and partially culverted in the 19th century so that it no longer retains any visible evidence of medieval engineering. Along the southern boundary of the Garth is a 20m wide, 2m deep ditch or fishpond, known as New Cut. This pond is clearly separated from the Bishop Dike, although it is thought that the New Cut may have been created out of an earlier medieval dock which was linked to the canal. A large irregularly shaped pit, 40m across and extending from the north bank of the New Cut, is an old quarry probably dug to obtain clay for pottery or brick making. Further north, in the rear garden of 2 Thorpe Lane, is an oval water-filled pond, 40m long by 20m wide, which, although enlarged in the 19th century, originated as a fishpond associated with the archbishops' palace. The north eastern third of the Garth is sub-divided by an 8m wide, 1.2m deep ditch into a sub-rectangular garden enclosure. Originally, this enclosure will have extended as far as Broad Lane but was later reduced in size when an 8m wide, 2m deep ditch was constructed along the present south eastern boundary of the Garth. Three rectangular, dried-up fishponds lie in the southern part of the enclosure. The largest pond is 50m long by 18m wide and 1.5m deep; its sides have recently been revetted with timber to prevent erosion. The other two ponds form a parallel pair, each 40m long by 8m wide and partially infilled. Slight parallel linear earthworks, visible in the northern part of the enclosure, are the remains of bedding for trees and shrubs within the garden. Archaeological excavations in areas adjacent to the monument have confirmed that this area of Castle Garth was in use as a garden; further bedding earthworks are visible in the gardens of houses fronting Broad Lane and trial excavation in advance of housing development south of Thorpe Lane showed that area was once cultivated. Part of the garden enclosure continued in use as an orchard until relatively recently, since a small thicket close to the boundary of the monument still contains several old fruit trees. King Edgar granted a vast estate, centred on Sherburn in Elmet, to the archbishop in AD 963. This estate included at least a part of Cawood; the remaining part was held by the de Cawood family, whose manorial seat has been identified as the moated site south east of Broad Lane. Cawood had become an archiepiscopal residence by the 12th century and the archbishops were instrumental in developing the commercial potential of the town, obtaining revenue from its port, ferry and river fishing. Brickworks also counted as one of the archiepiscopal enterprises, whether or not this took place in the vicinity of Cawood. Recent study of the development of the townscape has demonstrated that the medieval expansion of settlement was deliberately planned. A licence to crenellate the palace was granted to Archbishop Gifford, in 1271. As befitted the rank of its occupants, Cawood Castle saw frequent royal visitors, from King John to Elizabeth I. In 1530 the Archbishop Elect, Cardinal Wolsey, stayed at Cawood before his arrest on a charge of treason and his subsequent death at Leicester. When Queen Mary deposed the protestant Archbishop Holgate her soldiers ransacked the castle and it was only partially reoccupied. During the Civil War, the Royalist garrison, under Captain Grey, was ousted by Lord Fairfax and the building was largely destroyed. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse. c 1426-51. For Archbishop Kempe. Magnesian limestone ashlar with stone slate roof to oriel windows otherwise roof concealed by parapet. 3 storeys, 1 bay. North front: full freight, narrow angle buttressing with set-offs. Carriage arch with enriched spandrels and drip mould encroached on to right by 2 Thorpe Lane. Canted oriel window to first floor with heraldic shields to panelled base. Traceried windows with leaded lights. Roof has ornamental cresting. Blocked 2-light flat-arched window to second floor under drip mould. Coved cornice and parapet. Original stair turret with slit windows projects above main roof level. Rear: 4-centred pedestrian archway to left and 4-centred carriage archway to right, both contained under large segmental arch with cornice. First floor band with heraldic shields and capping. Centre 3 shields project slightly to support oriel window of 3 traceried lights, with 4-centred head. Ornamental cresting to roof. To second floor: 2-light window with small leaded panes and traceried heads under drip mould. Angle buttresses with set-offs rise from heraldic band to support coving and parapet. Octagonal stone chimneys to each side. Interior: carriageway has tierceron vaulting. 4-centred doorway to stairs. One original oak door is lying on its side in carriageway. (Listed Building Report)

Gatehouse Comments

The gatehouse is now in the care of the Landmark Trust and used as holiday accommodation. The original gate has been rehung and new matching gates added. It is important to note that the side of the gatehouse visible from the modern road is the back of the gate, the modern road cutting through what was the court of a courtyayd palace/castle that went down to the river. The front of the gate, usually difficult to see, has a 'portcullis' arch but can not have had a working portcullis as the oriel window obstructs this function. The Gatehouse is securely dated to the time of Bishop Kempe (c. 1450) showing 'sham' portcullises were around by this time.

- 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 ReferenceSE574376
Latitude53.8323211669922
Longitude-1.12942004203796
Eastings457400
Northings437600
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved

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Books

  • Turner, Maurice, 2004, Yorkshire Castles: Exploring Historic Yorkshire (Otley: Westbury Publishing) passim
  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 231
  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles and Tower Houses of Yorkshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 29
  • Ingham, Bernard, 2001, Bernard Ingham's Yorkshire Castles (Dalesman) p. 96-7
  • Thompson, M.W., 1998, Medieval bishops' houses in England and Wales (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing) p. 118, 153, 167, 188
  • Emery, Anthony, 1996, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 1 Northern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 325
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 302
  • James, T.B., 1990, The Palaces of Medieval England (London; Seaby) p. 184
  • Bell, M., 1987, Cawood: the History of a Yorkshire Village (Cawood Castle Furniture)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 515, 536
  • Ryder, P.F., 1982 (paperback edn 1992), The Medieval Buildings of Yorkshire (Ash Grove Book) p. 87-107
  • Gee, Eric, 1981, 'Stone from the Medieval Limestone Quarries od South Yorkshire' in A. Detsicas (ed), Collectanea Historica: Essays in Memory of Stuart Rigold (Kent Archaeological Society) p. 247-55
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 207
  • Pevsner, N., 1959, Buildings of England: Yorkshire: West Riding (London) p. 160
  • Ambler, L., 1913, The old halls and manor houses of Yorkshire, with some examples of other houses built before the year 1700 (London: Batsford) p. 45 online copy
  • Armitage and Montgomerie, 1912, in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Yorkshire Vol. 2 p. 48
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Niemeyer, N., 1911, 'Introductory Chapter' in Rait, R.S. (ed), English Episcopal Palaces (Province of York) (London; Constable & Co) p. 2-4 online copy
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 2 p. 212-13 online copy
  • Wheater, W., 1882, The History of the Parishes of Sherburn and Cawood p. 131-5 online copy
  • Timbs, J. and Gunn, A., 1872, Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales Vol. 3 (London) p. 203-6 online copy
  • Grainge, W., 1855, Castles and Abbeys of Yorkshire p. 66-70 online copy

Antiquarian

  • 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. 522
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1909, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 4 p. 12 online copy

Journals

  • Blood, N.K. and Taylor, C.C., 1992, 'Carwood: an Archiepiscopal Landscape' Yorkshire Archaeological Journal Vol. 64 p. 83-102
  • Youngs, S.M. et al, 1988 'Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1987' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 32 p. 290 download copy
  • Youngs, S.M., Clark, J. and Barry, T., 1987, 'Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1986' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 31 p. 168 download copy

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1913, Calendar of Patent Rolls Henry III (1266-72) Vol. 6 p. 632 online copy

Other

  • Payne, Naomi, 2003, The medieval residences of the bishops of Bath and Wells, and Salisbury (PhD Thesis University of Bristol) Appendix B: List of Medieval Bishop's Palaces in England and Wales (available via EThOS)
  • 1982, Yorkshire Vernacular Buildings Study Group Report No 811