Maxstoke Castle

Has been described as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are major building remains

NameMaxstoke Castle
Alternative NamesMaxstok
Historic CountryWarwickshire
Modern AuthorityWarwickshire
1974 AuthorityWarwickshire
Civil ParishMaxstoke

Fortified manor house or Castle, built circa 1345, and partly remodelled by the Earl of Stafford a century later. The surviving remains consist of a restored Medieval gatehouse, curtain wall and angle towers. A range of buildings dating from C15-C19 are enclosed within the walls. the surrounding water filled moat measures 110m north to south by 100m transversely. The steep-sided arms average 20m in width. The entrance is over the east arm. Sir William Clinton obtained licence to crenellate in 1345. The castle was built on a new site and a completely new layout was possible, and a perfectly symmetrical planned building was the result. It is rectangular, measuring about 55m from N-S and about 49m E-W. At each angle there is an octagonal tower 9m across, and in the centre of the E side is a gatehouse (PRN 351). The main building, of which part of the original walls still remain in the modern residence, was along the W side, and on the N and S there were subsidiary buildings, the evidence for which is to be seen in the corbels and other features on the main wall. Castle partly remodelled by the Earl of Stafford a century after its construction. A private residence maintained in excellent order. The castle has survived intact and the fabric has been skilfully restored so that it presents an outstanding example of its period. (Derived from PastScape and Warwickshire HER)

Maxstoke Castle is one of the best preserved examples of this type of castle in England and it is largely unencumbered by later development. The construction of Maxstoke Castle in the mid 14th century illustrates the transition in architectural styles between the purely defensive castle of the early 14th century and the increasingly informal defences of residences of the 15th century

The importance of the site is enhanced by detailed documentary records.

The monument is situated in an isolated context, approximately 2km west of Coleshill, and includes the standing and buried remains of Maxstoke Castle. In 1345, William de Clinton, who was also responsible for the construction of nearby Maxstoke Priory, was granted a licence to crenallate a new dwelling at Maxstoke. This new dwelling was Maxstoke Castle, a site which has external dimensions of 110m north-south and 100m east-west. The quadrangular castle is built of squared and coursed red sandstone and includes a single court which is encompassed by a curtain wall and surrounded by a moat. The area of land between the curtain wall and the moat has a levelled surface and is thought to have served as a terraced walkway around the inner edge of the moat probably within a low, outer curtain, of which all trace has now been buried. The stone-revetted moat measures approximately 20m wide. The four arms of the moat are waterfilled and are fed by a stream which enters at the south east corner of the site. An outlet channel is visible at the north west corner of the moat. Access into the interior of the castle is by means of a bridge across the eastern arm of the moat. The 2m thick curtain wall encloses an area of approximately 50m square and is embattled. Beneath the embattlement is a moulded cornice with beast gargoyles and embrasures for shutters. There is an octagonal tower at each corner and these measure up to 9m in diameter. Three of the towers, the north east, south east and south west, have three storeys and contain ogee-headed windows. The north west tower, also of three storeys, has a vaulted basement. The curtain wall and octagonal towers are Listed Grade I and are included in the scheduling. In the central part of the east curtain wall is a gatehouse flanked by octagonal turrets which projects into the moat. The outer and inner gateway arches are two-centred and of two chamfered orders. The rebate for the drawbridge, which originally provided access into the castle, is visible. The passage between the gate arches is vaulted and of two bays. The quadrangle formed by the curtain wall was originally occupied by building ranges along all four sides. With the exception of two garderobes within the curtain wall to the south of the gatehouse, there is little evidence to indicate the character of the building range along the eastern side of the quadrangle. The main range is situated against the west curtain wall. It has been much altered, particularly during the late 15th century and the 1820s. The western range originally contained the Great Hall, a kitchen and a chapel. A large traceried, six light window, is visible within the fabric of the west curtain wall. It is thought to indicate the location of the 14th century chapel within the range. The north west part of the courtyard is occupied by a mid-17th century timber-framed building which is in use as a dwelling. It is Listed Grade I. There were originally building ranges along the remainder of the north and along the south curtain walls, both of which are included within the scheduling. The south east ranges are thought to have been at least partly demolished during the early 16th century when the northern range was remodelled. Traces of these ranges remain within the fabric of the curtain walls. The corbels for first-floor beams, a number of single-light upper windows and fireplaces are visible in the south, and part of the north walls. Two doorways are visible in the central part of the north curtain wall; the lower pierces the curtain wall, providing access onto the moat walkway. The foundations of the northern and southern ranges will survive beneath the ground surface. In c.1438, the de Clintons exchanged Maxstoke Castle for properties in Northamptonshire and the castle passed into the hands of Humphrey, Earl of Stafford, who became the first Duke of Buckingham. There is documentary evidence to indicate that slight alterations were made to the site by the Buckinghams. In 1521 the manor of Maxstoke and the castle were granted to Sir William Compton, but at the end of the 16th century Maxstoke Castle became the property of Sir Thomas Dilke. (Scheduling Report)

Maxstoke Castle. 1345. Built by Sir William de Clinton, Earl of Huntingdon, altered mid C15 by Duke of Buckingham. Late C16 alterations to courtyard buildings following acquisition by Sir Thomas Dilke in 1589. Squared and coursed red sandstone on plinth with splayed upper edge. Square plan on moated site with gatehouse in centre of east wall and an octagonal corner tower projecting well out from each corner of the curtain wall. Embattled curtain wall with embrasures fitted for shutters and below the embattlement a moulded cornice of mid C15 with beast gargoyles. Single- and 2-light openings also C15, with trefoil heads in ogee arches. In the north wall there are late C16 4-light windows some with transoms, in square heads. Entrance bridge leads to gate house in the middle of the east wall flanked by semi-octagonal turrets, one with leaded bell-shaped roof of C18/C19. One C15 window of 2 cinquefoil lights in ogee arches at first and second floors. Loop openings to the corner turrets. Outer gateway arch is 2-centred and of 2 chamfered orders. There is a rebate for the drawbridge and sites for at least 2 other doors and a portcullis. The outer gates are C18. Wrought iron with main gates and side standards with overthrows all enriched with scroll and leaf ornament. The inner arch is also 2-centred and of 2 chamfered orders. The doors are C15. The gateway passage is covered by 2 bays of tierceron vault with carved bosses at the intersection of the ribs. The west wall has a chapel window of 5 cinquefoil lights with reticulated tracery in 2-centred arch. There are 2 other windows of 2-lights with Y-tracery in 2 centred arches and at the north end late C16 windows with mullions and transoms in square heads. Interior: Wall-walk approached by stairways in each corner tower with doorways in 2-centred chamfered arches. Courtyard buildings originally extended on south, west and north walls. The corbels to carry ceiling beams are visible in south and part of north walls. The range of buildings to the west wall is buttressed to the courtyard, indicating the great hall at first floor. Coursed and squared sandstone walls and slate roof. First floor windows are C16, now blocked. At ground floor at the south end a doorway in a 2-centred wave moulded arch with label and stops. Another doorway further to the north has an ogee head. The south end of this range was the kitchen end and the 2-centred doorway may have led to the former cross-passage. At the north end of the west range a c.1820 block projects. Red brick, with hipped slate roof. 2 storeys. 2 hung sashes with pointed top panes in square heads with raised surrounds of stone at first floor. Similar ground floor windows and doorway with panelled door, and square head. North-west range. Late C16. Timber-framed, rendered infill, on sandstone plinth. Slate roof. 4 bays. 3 storeys. 5-light casements, with ovolo windows and some with transoms. One bay has late C16 projecting octagonal 3 storey porch with part open sided ground stage on Doric columns of wood. Interior not inspected but source material notes the following. West range has part of original first floor Great Hall. 3 bays. The roof is concealed by plaster coving and the walls are lined by C17 panelling. To the North was the chapel of which the 6-light window in the curtain-wall remains. In the late C15 another first floor hall was inserted north of the chapel. The roof has arch-braced and cambered tie beams with octagonal king-posts and 4-way struts. The north range has principal rooms at first floor. There is a richly carved oak lobby in the corner of the drawing-room. 2 doorways each with a doorcase of late C16. Shafts, with pedestals and entablatures enriched with carving. Original doors. The room is lined with C17 panelling and the fireplace in the north wall has an overmantel in 2 bays with the panels inclosing the arms of Sir Thomas Dilke and Anne Fisher, his wife. The flat ceiling is divided into panels by moulded ribs with foliate bosses. (Listed Building Report)

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 ReferenceSP223891
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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

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  • Charles Hollwey, 2015-16, 'From Chilham via Caernarfon to Thornbury: The rise of the polygonal tower' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 29 p. 263-85
  • Guy, Neil, 2011-12, 'The Rise of the Anti-clockwise Newel Stair' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 25 p. 113-174 online copy
  • 2003-4, 'Maxstoke Castle' Castle Studies Group Bulletin Vol. 17 p. 20-22
  • 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
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  • Alcock, N.W., Faulkner, P,A. and Jones, S., 1978, 'Maxstoke Castle, Warwickshire' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 135 p. 195-233 (illus)
  • Binney, M., 1974 April 11, 18, 'Maxstoke Castle' Country Life
  • Fetherston-Dilke, C.B., 1972, 'Maxstoke Castle' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 128 p. 244-5
  • Chatwin, P.B., 1947-8, 'Castles in Warwickshire' Transactions of the Birmingham and Warwickshire Archaeological Society Vol. 67 p. 29
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Guide Books

  • Fetherston-Dilke, C.B. and M.C., 2000, A Short History of Maxstoke Castle and its Owners (privately published) (mainly genealogy)

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1902, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward III (1343-45) Vol. 6 p. 444. 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. 455
  • The National Archives E36/150 Survey of the lands late of Edward, duke of Buckingham, attainted online details