Longford Castle

Has been described as a Possible Fortified Manor House

There are major building remains

NameLongford Castle
Alternative Names
Historic CountryWiltshire
Modern AuthorityWiltshire
1974 AuthorityWiltshire
Civil ParishOdstock

House constructed in 1591 comprising a triangular plan with corner towers. It was remodelled during the 18th century and between 1802-17 when a hexagonal scheme was used. A restoration was carried out during the 1870s. (PastScape)

Large house. 1591 by Thomas Gorges, C18 remodelling including James Wyatt's 1796 hexagon scheme, for 2nd Earl of Radnor, partially executed by D. A. Alexander 1802-17, restoration and additions of 1870's by A. Salvin for 4th Earl of Radnor. Chilmark stone with flint bands, Westmorland slate roofs, lead domes to stair turrets, ashlar stacks. Elizabethan triangular plan, two towers and linking wings added C19 to east. 3-storey, 11-window symmetrical entrance front to north-west, restored by Salvin. Central round-arched door, 5-bay loggias to ground and first floors with recessed second floor over, to sides are projecting bays of 2 windows with central niches, linked by recessed bay to 3-storey flanking round towers, the left one altered by Salvin with basement, the right original. All cross windows, decorative features include caryatids, string courses, pilasters and three Dutch gables. Circular stacks in groups of five. Towers have battlemented parapets with stacks. South or garden front entirely rebuilt by Salvin in C17 style, 1876; 3-storey, 9-window symmetrical front with flanking towers; 2 round-arched doors to left and right, cross windows to ground and first floors, five 3-light mullioned windows to second floor, string courses, two projecting bays with Dutch gables, central recessed bay with balustraded parapet, tall square stacks with circular stacks to flanking towers. Attached to right is one storey, 2-window range by Salvin, linking south-east tower to Alexander's east tower reduced by one storey in 1950's; windows to both are mullioned and transomed

East and north ranges and north tower by Alexander, altered by Salvin: Tower in banded stone and flint, ranges are buff-coloured Flemish bond brick, 2-storey east range with basement has cross windows, formerly 5 bays but partly demolished after 1949 fire. North range is 5-bay service wing with 3-light mullioned and transomed windows, 2-storey and basement with prominent glacis. Interior: Original Elizabethan fittings include three circular stair turrets with stone spiral stairs, in angles of central triangular court, south-west tower has wainscot panelling and carved stone overmantel depicting Vulcan to ground floor, former chapel to first floor has fine ribbed vaulted ceiling with central pendant, carved overmantel of c1600 depictng Orpheus, but from elsewhere. C18 fittings in Picture Gallery of 1730s and Green Drawing Room of c1741, fine Rysbrack fire surround and overmantel of 1744 in ground floor of south-east tower, composite capitals to black marble columns in chapel, by H. Barrell. Extensive refitting and rearrangement of interior by Salvin; glass dome covering of central court and wrought-iron galleries at first floor, many marble fireplaces and fine 6-panelled mahogany doors, ribbed plaster ceilings replacing C18 plasterwork. Original hall was in position of present billiard room, to right of front door. Gorges's house completed by 1591 and probably influenced by Tresham's Lodge at Rushton begun 1580. House depicted in series of plans and drawings by Thacker in 1680s when owned by Lord Coleraine, sold to Bouveries in 1717 and remained with them until present day. Surrounding park partly landscaped by Capability Brown. (Listed Building Report)

Perhaps the most ambitious late sixteenth-century castle in England is Longford in Wiltshire, which was constructed by Sir Thomas Gorges at some time between 1578 and 1591. Plans for the building drawn up by the surveyor John Thorpe label the three towers 'Father', 'Son' and 'Holy Ghost', an indication that the unusual triangular form of the building was intended to evoke the Trinity. As a matter of fact, it is also the shape of the artillery fort at Hurst Castle, Hampshire, where Gorges acted as keeper in the 1580s. Whatever inspired the plan, Sir Thomas was evidently fascinated by complex geometry. (Goodall)

Gatehouse Comments

The Castle does not seem to be separately recorded in the online Wiltshire SMR although the associated parkland is recorded under number SU12NE526.

- 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 ReferenceSU171266
Latitude51.0392303466797
Longitude-1.75689995288849
Eastings417140
Northings126670
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Copyright Howard Noyce All Rights Reserved
Copyright Howard Noyce All Rights Reserved
Copyright Howard Noyce All Rights Reserved
Copyright Howard Noyce All Rights Reserved

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Books

  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 430, 459-61, 462
  • Cooper, Nicholas, 1999, Houses of the Gentry, 1480-1680 (Yale University Press) p. 26, 30
  • Pevsner, N. (Revised by Cherry, Bridget), 1975, Buildings of England: Wiltshire (London, Penguin) p. 303-308
  • Pevsner, N., 1963, Buildings of England: Wiltshire (London, Penguin) p. 271-6
  • Cornforth, J., 1968, Country Life Annual

Journals

  • Whinney, M., 1947, The Archaeological Journal Vol. 104 p. 174 online copy
  • 1931 Nov/Dec, Country Life Vol. 70 p. 648, 696
  • Gotch, J.A., 1888, 'Longford Castle, and Longleat' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 45 p. 158-66 online copy