Stafford Castle, Castlechurch

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte), and also as a Certain Masonry Castle, and also as a Certain Tower House

There are masonry footings remains

NameStafford Castle, Castlechurch
Alternative NamesBarons Castle, Monetvile
Historic CountryStaffordshire
Modern AuthorityStaffordshire
1974 AuthorityStaffordshire
Civil ParishCastle Church

Stafford Castle survives well and is a good example of a motte and bailey castle with two baileys. Partial excavation of the site has indicated that the castle retains important structural and artefactual evidence for the history of the castle's construction and for the economy of its inhabitants. The wealth and importance of Stafford Castle is reflected in extensive documentary records dating from the mid 14th century to the site's abandonment in the mid 17th century. The remains of the 19th century reconstructed keep represents an important early example of Gothic Revival architecture. Field survey and partial excavation of the medieval settlement remains have indicated that important archaeological deposits will survive undisturbed within the settlement site which will provide evidence of building plots and field and property boundaries, allowing an interpretation of the layout and date of the settlement and of its relationship in date and function to Stafford Castle.

The monument is situated 60m north west of St Mary's Church on the western outskirts of Stafford and includes the standing and buried remains of Stafford Castle, an associated medieval settlement and an early 19th century Gothic Revival reconstruction of the castle keep. The motte and two baileys are arranged on a north west-south east alignment and the settlement is situated to the east and south east of the lower bailey. The motte and double bailey castle, known as Stafford Castle, is thought to have been constructed towards the end of the 11th century or in the early 12th century by Robert de Stafford or one of his successors. The castle occupies a commanding position at the north west edge of an elevated ridge. It is surrounded and strengthened by a ditch which measures up to 22m wide. The south west side of the outer bailey is defended by the natural hillslope. Along the northern, western and southern sides of the motte and bailey castle is a counterscarp bank

Part of the north east section of this outer bank has been removed by a post-medieval quarry. The motte is situated at the north west corner of the site and has been artificially raised on the site of a natural hill. The ditch between the motte and the bailey has been infilled but a geophysical survey has indicated that it survives as a buried feature. The flat-topped motte measures 90m north west-south east and 70m north east-south west across its base. In the mid 14th century a stone keep was constructed on the summit of the motte by Ralph, Earl of Stafford. The rectangular keep measures 34m north west-south east and 14m north east-south west and there are octagonal towers, 9m across, at each corner. A fifth tower was added to the south wall of the keep between the mid 14th and early 16th centuries and, although it is not visible on the ground surface, it will survive as a buried feature. In 1984, an excavation at the base of the north west tower uncovered the foundations of an earlier octagonal tower. The standing remains of the medieval keep are Listed Grade II and are included in the scheduling. At the outbreak of the Civil War, in 1642, Stafford Castle was held by Lady Isabel Stafford for the Royalist cause. In the following year, the castle keep was demolished by the Parliamentarians and it remained a ruin until the early 19th century. During the early 19th century the Jerningham family of Norfolk attempted to reconstruct the medieval keep of Stafford Castle, using the earlier building's foundations. This 19th century structure, which has been built in the form of an elongated rectangle with an octagonal tower at each corner, was never completed. The eastern end of the keep was occupied for a period of time but, by the 1950s, the building had been abandoned. The remains of this Gothic Revival castle, which has recently been consolidated, are Listed Grade II and are included in the scheduling. The two baileys are separated by a 20m wide ditch. The inner bailey is crescent-shaped and contains an area of approximately 0.4ha. There is a slight earthen bank along the edge of the inner bailey and it is thought that the bailey was originally defended with a timber palisade. A resistivity survey along the line of the bailey rampart has indicated the remains of stone structures beneath the ground surface. These may mark the positions of stone mural towers. A small area within the western part of the bailey has been destroyed by a 19th century quarry. Excavations within the inner bailey have recovered evidence of a number of medieval structures of a variety of types. A number of post holes with connecting beam slots were thought to represent the remains of a bridge connecting the motte with the bailey. The outer bailey has an oblong plan and contains approximately 1.7ha. Access into the castle is by means of a causeway across the the central part of the south east outer bailey ditch. It is aligned with a causeway across the inner bailey ditch and is thought to mark the site of the original entrance to the castle. There is a second entrance across the outer bailey's southern defences and a modern access road runs northwards along the western edge of the castle's defences towards the motte. Immediately to the south east of the outer bailey are the earthwork remains of a medieval settlement associated with Stafford Castle. The north west boundary to the settlement remains is defined by the defences of the outer bailey. An earthen bank forms the southern, eastern and north east edges of the settlement site. Much of the south east boundary bank has been incorporated into private gardens and partly terraced, but it remains clearly visible. It can also be traced as an intermittent earthwork at the eastern and north east edges. There is no surface evidence for the boundary bank at the western edge of the site but this area is now occupied by the modern access road to Stafford Castle. A resistivity survey has indicated that a ditch defines the western boundary of the settlement to the north of the access road. A hollow way is visible running north west-south east from the entrance to the outer bailey, across the central part of the settlement site, towards Castle Church church. This earthwork is thought to represent the original approach road to Stafford Castle. An excavation within the central area of the settlement site revealed a complex series of features relating to medieval occupation, including a number of hollow ways and the remains of timber buidings. Finds recovered during excavations of the site support documentary evidence that the settlement was occupied between the 12th and the mid 15th centuries. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

Early large motte and bailey which has been extensively excavated. Although early this is not the castle built by William I and recorded in Domesday which was in Stafford town - see Stafford King's Castle. The castle does not lie in the manor of Stafford but on the edge of the adjoining manor of Bradley and had a small village grow up by it, now called Castlechurch. Was a powerful timber castle in C12 presumably built by the Stafford family, possibly after the royal administration of the county had moved to Shrewsbury, to assert a claim to the county, although the Staffords were not to become earls until the C14 (The family were often Sheriffs of Staffordshire). In mid C14 a tower house was built on the motte. This was destroyed during Civil War and the foundations were reused in C19 as base for a Gothick house. Excavation found masonry beneath the 1348 remains on the motte and it has been suggested this was an earlier round tower, possible a tower 'en bec'. License to crenellate granted in 1348 to Ralph, first earl of Stafford, specifically giving permission to make his 'manse' of Stafford a castle. The building accounts suggest work had started well before the licence and recent excavations suggest a masonry tower already existed on the powerful earthworks.

- 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 ReferenceSJ902222
Latitude52.7978782653809
Longitude-2.14738988876343
Eastings390250
Northings322250
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
Copyright Martin Handley All Rights Reserved
Copyright Martin Handley All Rights Reserved

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Books

  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 263-4, 413
  • < >Soden, I. (ed), 2007, Stafford Castle: Survey, Excavation and Research 1978-98 Vol. 2: The Excavations (Stafford: Stafford Borough Council) < >
  • < >Darlington, John, 2001, Stafford Castle: Survey, Excavation and Research 1978-1998 Vol. 1: The Surveys (Stafford: Stafford Borough Council) < >
  • Emery, Anthony, 2000, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 2 East Anglia, Central England and Wales (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 432-5
  • Salter, Mike, 1997, Castles and Moated Mansions of Staffordshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 42-7
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 229
  • Salter, Mike, 1993, Midlands Castles (Birmingham) p. 67-71
  • Higham, R. and Barker, P., 1992, Timber Castles (Batsford) p. 289-93
  • Drage, C., 1987, 'Urban castles' in Schofield, J. and Leech, R. (eds) Urban Archaeology in Britain (CBA Research Report 61) p. 117-32 online copy (where assumed to be King's castle)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 451, lxvii (history mixed with King's castle)
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 302
  • Pevsner, N., 1974, Buildings of England: Staffordshire (London, Penguin) p. 249-50
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 315 (mistaken)
  • Midgley, L.M. and Donaldson, B., 1959, in Midgley, L.M. (ed), VCH Staffordshire Vol. 5 p. 84-88 - online transcription
  • Salzman, 1952, Building in England (Oxford) p. 438-9 (the building contract of 1348)
  • Braun, H., 1936, The English Castle (London: Batsford) p. 107
  • Armitage, Ella, 1912, The Early Norman Castles of the British Isles (London: John Murray) p. 211-6 (Believed this to be same as Stafford King's castle) online copy
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Lynam, Charles, 1908, 'Ancient Earthworks' in Page, Wm. (ed), VCH Staffordshire Vol. 1 p. 355 (plan) online copy
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 1 p. 399-401 online copy
  • Timbs, J. and Gunn, A., 1872, Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales Vol. 2 (London) p. 530 online copy
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 235, 415 online copy

Antiquarian

Journals

  • Creighton, O.H., 2010, 'Room with a View: Framing Castles Landscapes' Château Gaillard Vol. 24 p. 37-49 (slight)
  • Hislop, M., 2010, ‘A missing link: a reappraisal of the date, architectural context and significance of the great tower of Dudley Castle’ Antiquaries Journal Vol. 90 p. 211-33 online copy
  • Creighton, O.H., 2004, ''The Rich Man in his Castle, The Poor Man at His Gate': Castle Baileys and Settlement Patterns in Norman England' Cha^teau Gaillard Vol. 21 p. 25-36
  • 2003-4, 'Stafford Castle' Castle Studies Group Bulletin Vol. 17 p. 31
  • Darlington, John, 1996-97, 'The Stafford Castle Project' Castle Studies Group Newsletter No. 10 p. 37 online copy
  • Hislop, M.J.B., 1993, 'Master John of Burcestre and the Castles of Stafford and Maxstoke' Transactions of the South Staffordshire Archaeological and Historical Society Vol. 33 p. 14-20
  • Darlington, J., 1992, 'Excavation at Stafford Castle' West Midlands Archaeology Vol. 35 p. 46-7
  • Darlington, J., 1991, 'Geophysical Survey at Stafford Castle' West Midlands Archaeology Vol. 34 p. 65-8
  • Youngs, S.M., Clark, J. and Barry, T., 1987, 'Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1986' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 31 p. 159 online copy
  • Klemperer, W.D., 1986, 'Stafford Castle 1986' West Midlands Archaeology Vol. 29 p. 38-9
  • Youngs, S.M., Clark, J. and Barry, T., 1985, 'Medieval Britain and Ireland in 1984' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 29 p. 198-9 online copy
  • Klemperer, W.D., 1985, 'Stafford Castle 1985' West Midlands Archaeology Vol. 28 p. 15-17
  • White, H., 1985, 'Stafford Castle Project' Staffordshire History Vol. 2
  • Hill, C., 1984, 'Stafford Castle — the development of an amenity' West Midlands Archaeology Vol. 27 p. 122-3
  • Moffett, C., 1983, 'Stafford Castle, Staffordshire' West Midlands Archaeology Vol. 26 p. 117, 119
  • Hill, C., 1981-2, 'Stafford Castle' CBA Newsletter and Calendar 5 p. 149
  • Webster, L.E. and Cherry, J., 1981, 'Medieval Britain in 1979' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 25 p. 202 online copy
  • Hill, C., 1980-1, 'Stafford, Staffordshire' CBA Newsletter and Calendar 4 p. 129
  • Hill, C., 1980, 'Stafford Castle, Staffordshire: excavation and survey at castle and DMV' West Midlands Archaeology Vol. 23 p. 113
  • Webster, L.E. and Cherry, J., 1978, 'Medieval Britain in 1977' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 22 p. 262 online copy
  • Barker, P.A., 1978, 'Stafford Castle' West Midlands Archaeological news sheet Vol. 21 p. 93-4
  • Palliser, D.M., 1974, 'The castles at Stafford' Stafford Historical and Civic Society Transactions 1971-3 p. 1-17
  • Palliser, D.M., 1972, 'Staffordshire Castles: A Provisional List' Staffordshire Archaeology Vol. 1 p. 5-8
  • Cantor, Leonard, 1966, 'The Medieval Castles of Staffordshire' North Staffordshire Journal of Field Studies Vol. 6 p. 38-46
  • Armitage, E., 1904, 'The Early Norman Castles of England' English Historical Review Vol. 19 p. 209-245, 417-455 esp. 430-4 online copy
  • Mazzinghi, T.J., 1887, 'History of the Manor and Parish of Castre, or Castle Church' Collections for a History of Staffordshire (William Salt Archaeological Society Transactions) Vol. 8 Part 2 p. 71-84 online copy

Guide Books

  • 1992, Stafford Castle - A Brief History (Stafford Borough Council)

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1905, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward III (1348-50) Vol. 8 p. 13 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. 434
  • The National Archives E36/150 Survey of the lands late of Edward, duke of Buckingham, attainted online details
  • E36/150 (Survey of 1521) (calendared in Brewer, J.S. (ed), 1867, Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, of the Reign of Henry VIII Vol. 3 p. 510 No. 1286 online copy)
  • E36/150 (Survey of 1321) The National Archives reference (calendared in Brewer, J.S. (ed), 1867, Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, of the Reign of Henry VIII Vol. 3 p. 510 No. 1286 [online transcription > http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=91063])

Other

  • Jecock, M. and Corbett, G., 1997, Stafford Castle, Staffordshire, NMR Number SJ92SW2 (National Monuments Record Centre)
  • Moffett, C., 1992, Stafford Castle-An Archive Report on the Standing Structure
  • Dyer, S., 1990, A Geophysical Survey of Stafford Castle