Spofforth Castle

Has been described as a Certain Fortified Manor House

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameSpofforth Castle
Alternative NamesSpofford
Historic CountryYorkshire
Modern AuthorityNorth Yorkshire
1974 AuthorityNorth Yorkshire
Civil ParishSpofforth With Stockeld

Spofforth Castle's importance lies in the good survival of standing remains and extensive archaeological deposits, and in its connections with one of the most important noble families in medieval England, the Percys. Spofforth Castle is located on a low hill to the west of Spofforth village. The monument includes the ruins of the west range of the 13th century manor house and the buried remains of other buildings, including those of an earlier 11th century residence. The extant west range is of two storeys, the oldest part being the undercroft which is early 13th century. Above this is the great hall and the private rooms of the lord and his family, built and modified in the 14th and 15th centuries after licence to crenellate was granted to Henry Percy in 1309. The plan of the west range is a parallelogram with an extension at the north-east corner and a polygonal stair turret and spire at the north-west. The back of the building is set against rock so that the rear entrance leads directly into the upper floor containing the hall and private rooms. The undercroft consists of three rooms, later subdivided into four, with the kitchen occupying the north-west corner room and containing two large fireplaces. Fragments of other buildings indicate that the standing remains formed one side of a quadrangle stretching to the east. Earthworks in the field to the east, and cropmarks showing up on aerial photographs, show the location of its foundations. Underlying the deposits of the later medieval house are those of the Norman foundation. The first house on the site was built some time after 1067 by William de Percy, a favourite of William the Conqueror. The Percys were an important and influential family, and William's gift to the family numbered eighty-six lordships in Yorkshire, of which Spofforth was one. It remained the principal seat of the Percys until the 14th century, when Henry Percy bought the manor of Alnwick

As his family increased in power and influence in the north-east, so the residence at Spofforth lost favour and fell into disrepair. During the Wars of the Roses, after the Battle of Towton in 1462, it was fired by Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, and remained neglected until restored in 1559. Records suggest that it was last inhabited in 1604 and it was slighted some years later during the Civil War. The monument is now in State care and is a Grade II-star Listed Building. (Scheduling Report)

Ruins of fortified house. C13 with major rebuilding in C14 and C15. Coursed sandstone and ashlar. 2 storeys on north side, single storey on south - built against rock outcrop. 6 bays. First-floor hall with solar above undercroft and kitchens. Stair turret at north-west corner. Entrance to undercroft at north end of west side; rock-cut steps down to undercroft from centre of east side. Windows include trefoil-pointed arched windows and some with plate tracery. Chamfered plinth, continuous dripmould at first-floor level. Buttresses with offsets, pointed stone roof with finial to stair turret. Interior of undercroft has bases of octagonal piers and rock-cut doorway. (Listed Building Report)

Gatehouse Comments

The embankment of the, now disused, railway SW of the castle has totally disrupted the medieval landscape and, in particular, the relationship of the castle with the deer park.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

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 ReferenceSE360511
Latitude53.9547500610352
Longitude-1.4524199962616
Eastings436030
Northings451100
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
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

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Books

  • Turner, Maurice, 2004, Yorkshire Castles: Exploring Historic Yorkshire (Otley: Westbury Publishing) p. 248
  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles and Tower Houses of Yorkshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 102
  • Ingham, Bernard, 2001, Bernard Ingham's Yorkshire Castles (Dalesman) p. 100-1
  • Emery, Anthony, 1996, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 1 Northern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 399, 421
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 309
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 532 (possible)
  • Ryder, P.F., 1982 (paperback edn 1992), The Medieval Buildings of Yorkshire (Ash Grove Book) p. 108-22
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 300-2
  • Pevsner, N., 1959, Buildings of England: Yorkshire: West Riding (London) p. 487-8
  • Illingworth, J.L., 1938 (republished 1970), Yorkshire's Ruined Castles (Wakefield) p. 143-4
  • 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. 2 p. 267-8 online copy
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 405 online copy
  • Grainge, W., 1855, Castles and Abbeys of Yorkshire p. 100-104 online copy
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1853, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 2 p. 234 online copy
  • King, Edward, 1782, Observations on Antient Castles (London) p. 161-9

Antiquarian

  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 562
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1907, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 1 p. 87-8 online copy; Vol. 5 p. 49 [online copy > http://archive.org/stream/itineraryofjohnl05lelauoft#page/49/mode/1up]

Journals

  • 1934, The Archaeological Journal Vol. 91 p. 389 online copy
  • King, Edward, 1782, 'Sequel to the observations on Ancient Castles' Archaeologia Vol. 6 p. 337-45

Guide Books

  • Bunnett, R.J.A., Weaver, O.J. and Gilyard-Beer, R., 1965, Spofforth Castle (HMSO)

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1894, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward II (1307-13) Vol. 1 p. 144 online copy
  • Martin, M.T. (ed), 1911 for 1909, The Percy Chartulary (Surtees Society 117) passim online copy
  • 1903, 'Humberstone's Survey' Yorkshire Archaeological Journal Vol. 17 p. 129-154 esp. 141-2(Survey of 1570) online copy

Other

  • Humble, E., 2003, Yorkshire courtyard castles and social identities c 1360 - 1420: ambitions and anxieties (University of York dissertation)