Ford Castle, Northumberland

Has been described as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameFord Castle, Northumberland
Alternative NamesFowrde; ffurde; Forde; Foord
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishFord

Ford Castle is an early example of a quadrangular or courtyard castle. It later became a country house and is now a field study centre. Granted a licence to crenellate in 1338 it is the earliest quadrangular castle in Northumberland. Of the four original corner towers, three are surviving. The castle was converted into a mansion 1694 and given Gothic style detailing in 1761 by George Raffield for Sir John Hussey Deleval. It was restored to 17th century style and a new north wall added, as well as internal alterations in the mid-19th century by David Bryce for Louisa, Marchioness of Waterford. It is constructed mainly of ashlar with medieval squared stone and stone slate and graduated Lakeland slate roofs. (PastScape)

Crenellated in 1338. It is of the quadrilateral type with four corner towers, three of which survive.King James's, the largest, is at the N.W. corner, the S.W.tower is isolated, and that at the N.E corner submerged in later buildings. The fourth has gone completely. The N range is Elizabethan, but was largely rebuilt, together with the forecourt and gateway in 1861 (Pevsner).

The N and W curtain walls remain (Vickers 1922).

The buildings now serve as a field study centre for the Northum Education Committee and are generally correctly described. Remains of the curtain are incorporated in the N range and W wall of the forecourt. The probable site of the S E tower, and E wall are marked by an ornamental platform at NT 94453751 (F1 RWE 10-JAN-67).

Ford was the earliest example of a quadrangular, or 'courtyard' castle built in Northumberland, building commencing in 1338. It replaced an earlier fortified residence built after 1288 (Dodds 1999). (PastScape)

Country house, now field study centre. C14 (licence to crenellate 1338), converted into mansion 1694, given Gothick detail 1761 by George Raffield for Sir John Hussey Deleval

Restored to C17 style, new north wall added and altered internally from 1862 by David Bryce for Louisa, Marchioness of Waterford. Mainly ashlar, medieval work squared stone; stone slate and graduated Lakeland slate roofs. Originally a quadrilateral castle with 4 corner towers; three of these survive but one is now detached (see the Flagpole Tower, item 17/88). Present house E-plan, 3 storeys plus attics. 5-bay centre with projecting porch tower; projecting wings with 4-storey, one-bay stair towers in re-entrant angles. Rusticated basement. Steps up to 2-leaf door. 2-light mullioned windows in basement, cross windows above. Wings have large 4- and 5-light mullioned-and-transomed windows on ground floor. 4-light window above door. C18 modillion cornice and castellated parapet. Gabled roofs with tall diagonally-set stacks of several conjoined shafts.

Left return has C18 masonry to right, medieval masonry in centre and C14 King James' Tower to left with blocked arched window on 1st floor and irregular C19 openings.

Rear facade has King James' Tower to right with original slit window in sub-basement, blocked window above. The centre is by Bryce with consciously irregular Gothic openings including to the right a stone balcony on large stone brackets and in the centre a large oriel on 4 huge brackets. Tower to left has old masonry with C18 quoins, perhaps a reconstruction of the late C18?

Interior: King James' Tower has vaulted basement approached by stairs in thickness of wall with 2-centred arched doorways top and bottom. Pointed tunnel vault with 5 square-section transverse ribs. Walls 15 ft. thick at this level, 8 ft. thick above. On 1st floor 2 pointed-arched doorways, a C16 or C17 ceiling with stop-chamfered main beam and square close-set joists and a stone fireplace with Tudor-arched lintel and moulded surround. On 2nd floor a Gothic room of 1862; mural stair between these floors. In the angle of the east wing a restored 016 newel stair with a fragment of earlier stair in the wall beside it. Elsewhere in the house seven C16 or C17 stone fireplaces, one of granite with a bold incised curve in the lintel. Good Arts-and-Crafts-style doors throughout inserted by Lord Joicey, 1907. (Listed Building Report)

Ford Castle has its origins in the 14th century. Sir William Heron was given permission to fortify his residence here in 1338 when four towers were positioned on each corner. Of these, three survive, but one is detached 'the Flagpole Tower. The biggest tower was the King James's Tower on the north-west corner; it stands five storeys high if you count its vaulted basement. The basement is approached by a stair hidden within the thickness of the walls. The northern part of the castle is mainly 16th century in date, but was rebuilt, together with the forecourt and gateway in 1861. The main part of the castle was converted into a country house in 1694 and restored in 1862. Once the house was purchased by Lord Joicey the grounds around Ford Castle were improved. A wooded valley was laid out as a wild garden and crossed by bridges. The castle stands on a plateau and in the north-west corner is a small formal garden. A fountain designed by Louisa, Marchioness of Waterford, stands in the grounds. Unusual blue and white patterned tiles are on the walls of the Tower Room. They may be 19th century and Portuguese in origin and part of the alterations made by the Marchioness. The castle is now maintained by Northumberland County Council as a field study centre. (Keys to the Past)

Gatehouse Comments

Possibly the castle itself and the licence to crenellate were inspired by Naworth Castle licenced in 1335, although comparisons can be made with other C14 northern castles. Doods (1999) assertion that a 'strong house' existed here before the castle is not unreasonable but Gatehouse has not been able to reconcile the brief uncited history he gives with the detailed and fully cited history given in Vickers (1922).

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

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 ReferenceNT944374
Latitude55.6311111450195
Longitude-2.08970999717712
Eastings394410
Northings637490
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Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
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Books

  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 261, 407
  • Geldard, Ed, 2009, Northumberland Strongholds (London: Frances Lincoln) p. 75
  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 84-7
  • Salter, Mike, 1997, The Castles and Tower Houses of Northumberland (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 56-7
  • Emery, Anthony, 1996, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 1 Northern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 94-5, 159
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 185
  • Graham, Frank, 1993, Northumberian Castles Aln, Tweed and Till (Butler Publishing) p. 21, 22-27
  • Jackson, M.J.,1992, Castles of Northumbria (Carlisle)
  • Pevsner, N., 1992 (revised by Grundy, John et al), Buildings of England: Northumberland (London, Penguin) p. 282-4
  • Rowland, T.H., 1987 (reprint1994), Medieval Castles, Towers, Peles and Bastles of Northumberland (Sandhill Press) p. 5, 6, 9-11, 19-20
  • Desmond, R., 1984, Bibliography of British Gardens (Winchester), 127
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 333
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 231-2
  • Binney, M., and Hills, A., 1979, Elysian Gardens (London) p. 17
  • Harris, J., 1979, The Artist and the Country House: A history of country house and garden view painting in Britain, 1540-1870 (London) p. 205
  • Graham, Frank, 1976, The Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Frank Graham) p. 168-75
  • Hedley, W. Percy, 1968-70, Northumberland Families Vol. 2 p. 52
  • Long, B., 1967, Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) p. 107-8
  • Hugill, R.,1939, Borderland Castles and Peles (1970 Reprint by Frank Graham) p. 109-111
  • < >Vickers, Kenneth H. (ed), 1922, Northumberland County History (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) Vol. 11 p. 369-425 < > online copy
  • 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. 388-90 online copy
  • Bates, C.J., 1891, Border Holds of Northumberland (London and Newcastle: Andrew Reid) p. 9, 14, 24, 39, 305-9 (plan and elevation) (Also published as the whole of volume 14 (series 2) of Archaeologia Aeliana view online)
  • Timbs, J. and Gunn, A., 1872, Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales Vol. 3 (London) p. 392-408 online copy
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 412 online copy
  • Hutchinson, Wm, 1776, A View of Northumberland (Newcastle) Vol. 2 p. 19 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. 343
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1906, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 3 p. 24 online copy

Journals

  • King, Andy, 2007, 'Fortress and fashion statements: gentry castles in fourteenth-century Northumberland' Journal of Medieval History Vol. 33 p. 377, 378, 388
  • 1979, Journal of the British Archaeological Association Vol. 132 p. 85
  • Fawcett, R., 1976, 'Ford Castle' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 133 p. 190-2 (plan)
  • St Joseph, J.K., 1950, 'Castles of Northumberland from the air' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser4) Vol. 28 p. 7-17 esp 16-7
  • Hussey, C., 1941 Jan, Country Life Vol. 89 p. 32-5, 56-60, 78-82
  • 1928, 'Reports of meetings for 1928' History of the Berwickshire Naturalist Club Vol. 26 p. 308-9 (only plans from N.C.H.) online copy
  • 1891-2, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (ser2) Vol. 5 p. 62-3
  • Bates, C.J., 1891, 'Border Holds of Northumberland' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser2) Vol. 14 p. 9, 14, 24, 39, 305-9 online copy
  • Bates, C.J., 1887-8, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (ser2) Vol. 3 p. 347-9
  • 1882-4, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (ser2) Vol. 1 p. 146-7

Primary Sources

  • 1584, Report of the Commissioners on the Borders (1584) under Lord Hunsdon; largely the work of Christopher Dacre. Online transcription
  • 1541, View of the Castles, Towers, Barmekyns and Fortresses of the Frontier of the East and Middle Marches Survey of the East and Middle Marches
  • Brewer, J.S. (ed), 1867, Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, of the Reign of Henry VIII Vol. 3 p. 852 No. 1986 online copy
  • 1509, Holdis and Towneshyppes too lay in Garnysons of horsmen Survey of Tevedale
  • 1415, Nomina Castrorum et Fortaliciorum infra Comitatum Northumbrie online transcription
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1898, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward III (1338-40) Vol. 4 p. 114 (licence to crenellate) online copy
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1912, Calendar of Charter Rolls Edward III 1327-1341 Vol. 4. (HMSO) p. 468 (freedom to call a castle 'per nomen castri tenere possit')

Other

  • Historic England, 2015, Heritage at Risk North East Register 2015 (London: Historic England) p. 13 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2014, Heritage at Risk Register 2014 North East (London: English Heritage) p. 13 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2013, Heritage at Risk Register 2013 North East (London: English Heritage) p. 14 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2012, Heritage at Risk Register 2012 North East (London: English Heritage) p. 29 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011 North East (London: English Heritage) p. 28 online copy