Wingfield Manor

At South Wingfield are the stately ruins of a mansion erected by Sir Ralph Cromwell in the 1440s. Lord Cromwell was High Treasurer of England and builder of the grass brick tower at Tattershall Castle. Unlike Tattershall, Wingfield Manor is all of one period and entirely of stone. It follows the late medieval trend for two courtyards, one containing Cromwell’s residential buildings and the other a base court for retainers. This arrangement is often described as a security measure but here the distinction was purely a social one. Neither courtyard can be described as defensive and both are entered by gatehouses that have side arches for pedestrians in addition to the main arch. The flanking turrets cannot make up for …

Wigmore Castle

According to the Domesday Book, this was one of the strongholds founded by William Fitz Osbern, Earl of Hereford. Soon after the castle was granted to Ralph de Mortimer. Henry II captured the castle from Hugh de Mortimer in 1155, and it was here that Prince Edward obtained refuge following his escape from Hereford Castle in 1265. The most notorious of the line was Roger Mortimer, first Earl of March, who played a leading part in the deposition and murder of Edward II. In concert with his lover, Queen Isabella, Mortimer ruled England for three years until being overthrown by the young Edward III. He died on the gallows at Tyburn and Wigmore was given to the Earl of Salisbury, …

Tiverton Castle

According to tradition, Richard de Redvers, Earl of Devon, first raised a castle here around 1106, but if so nothing remains of it. Hugh Courtenay built the present stronghold soon after 1300, and the quadrangular plan is very typical of that era but would be unlikely in a Norman castle. We may compare Hugh’s reconstruction of Okehampton Castle, where his work was conditioned by the old motte and bailey layout. Tiverton’s quadrangle was surrounded by a curtain wall, which remains on three sides. There were towers at the corners but only the two southern ones remain. The southeast tower is circular and rather picturesque with its later conical roof; the larger southwest tower is square and ruinous. Windows piercing the …

Naworth Castle

Naworth Castle has become a fine mansion without sacrificing its medieval character. Ranulf de Dacre obtained a license to crenellate in 1335. His castle, on a promontory two miles east of Brampton, consists of an irregular, quadrilateral courtyard surrounded by a curtain wall. The only level approach is from the southeast and this side has a tower at each end, named Dacre and Howard after the two prominent families who have lived here since the fourteenth century. Dacre Tower is the original tower house. Five stories high with corner turrets, it flanks the original gateway through the curtain though it does not project at all from the southeast front. The doorway into its vaulted ground floor preserves an iron yert. …

Hever Castle

Hever Castle, beside the River Eden, two miles east of Edenbridge, is set within a wet moat between beautiful gardens and what appears to be a Tudor village. Gardens, “village” and the splendid interior of the castle are all the creation of a rich American, William Waldorf Astor. He purchased the castle in 1903 and immediately set about its transformation, which thus went on at the same time as Lord Conway was restoring Allington Castle. To his credit, Viscount Astor did not interfere with the exterior, which remains largely authentic. There is some doubt as to the original builder. William de Hever obtained a license to crenellate in 1340 and Sir John de Cobham obtained another in 1384. The latter …