Ancient Monuments

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Wressle Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Wressle, East Riding of Yorkshire

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Latitude: 53.7758 / 53°46'32"N

Longitude: -0.9289 / 0°55'44"W

OS Eastings: 470681.854816

OS Northings: 431579.099754

OS Grid: SE706315

Mapcode National: GBR PSYS.P7

Mapcode Global: WHFD4.PCV8

Entry Name: Wressle Castle

Scheduled Date: 8 February 1915

Last Amended: 16 December 2014

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1005210

English Heritage Legacy ID: ER 149

County: East Riding of Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Wressle

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Riding of Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Wressle St John of Beverley

Church of England Diocese: York


Late C14 quadrangular castle built for Sir Thomas Percy, Earl of Worcester. Opulently refurbished for Henry Percy, fifth Earl of Northumberland, in the early C16. Slighted in 1650, the surviving south range was gutted by fire in 1796. The castle survives mainly as buried and earthwork remains, but retains the south range standing to full height as a roofless ruin, along with the ruin of the early C16 bakehouse.

Source: Historic England


The scheduling includes the upstanding remains of the castle (the south range Listed grade I) including the Bakehouse (Listed grade II*) and a C16 brick wall (Listed grade II), along with buried remains of the rest of the castle extending across the moated island. It also includes most of the earthwork and buried remains of the moat ditch.

The moated island is approximately square and around 80-90m across, with the footprint of the quadrangular castle being just over 50m across. The south range survives as a roofless ruin standing effectively to full height, with the Chapel Tower to the east and Lords Tower to the West, linked by a slightly lower central range. The whole south range is built of ashlar magneisian limestone with later repairs in brickwork, and is furnished with a very large number of outward facing windows, many being very large. Even the ground floor rooms were lit by several outward facing windows, these subsequently being blocked.

The Lords Tower is of three storeys, with a low ground floor with tall upper floors: the first floor Lord's chamber being lit by a large oriel window which would have provided a good view across the gardens to the south, with the Lord's lodging chamber above. The chapel tower is of similar height, but divided into four storeys. Its two upper floors formed the Lady's Chamber (the only dedicated female space of the castle) with a chamber named Paradise forming the top floor above. This latter chamber was fitted out by the fifth Earl as a library and was the highest status room in the castle. The connecting range between the two towers is partially three storied, but mainly of two storeys, the centre portion being occupied by a double height hall known in the C15 as the Dining or great chamber. However this was not the principal hall of the castle: the principal hall occupied most of the castle's west range between the Lord's Tower and the Kitchen Tower to the north west, being demolished in 1650.

The extent of the central courtyard of the quadrangular castle is marked by the single storey Bakehouse which was built into the north western corner of the courtyard in the early C16. This is also constructed of ashlar magneisian limestone and is a roofless shell, measuring some 6m by 8m.

Extending about 30m eastwards from the north east corner of the Chapel tower is a length of brick walling including remains of a building on its northern side incorporating a large, blocked archway and a doorway with a carved lintel inscribed "Robert Prickett 1674".

The moat surrounding the castle is most clearly defined as an earthwork on the northern side, including the northern part of the eastern moat arm. Here it survives as a substantial ditch around 20m wide. The western and southern sides are less distinct, but can still be identified as earthworks, although the south western corner (probably including the site of a bathhouse mapped in circa 1600) was left out of the area scheduled in 1915.

The boundary of the scheduled monument is derived from the 1:10560 map used for the 1915 designation and does not necessarily follow modern boundaries. Fencing, modern gates and feed troughs are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath is included.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Wressle Castle, a late C14 quadrangular castle built for Sir Thomas Percy, Earl of Worcester is scheduled for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural: the castle is a good example of late C14 high status secular architecture;

* Historical: the castle was built by one of the most powerful families in the England, remaining an important residence until the later sixteenth century;

* Archaeological potential: the site retains buried remains which have the potential to increase our knowledge and understanding of the castle, and of this building type.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
P. Brears, , 'Archaeological Journal Vol 167' in Wressle Castle: Functions, Fixtures and Furnishings for Henry Percy 'The Magnificent' Fifth Earl of Northumberland, 1498-1527, , Vol. 167, (2010), 55-114
Samantha Stones, Wressle Castle: Conservation Management Plan, 2013,

Source: Historic England

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