Ancient Monuments

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Leybourne Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Leybourne, Kent

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Latitude: 51.3043 / 51°18'15"N

Longitude: 0.4209 / 0°25'15"E

OS Eastings: 568848.96486

OS Northings: 158911.215296

OS Grid: TQ688589

Mapcode National: GBR NPC.57J

Mapcode Global: VHJM5.7GVZ

Entry Name: Leybourne Castle

Scheduled Date: 22 February 1929

Last Amended: 10 August 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1007461

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23023

County: Kent

Civil Parish: Leybourne

Built-Up Area: Ditton

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Kent

Church of England Parish: Leybourne St Peter and St Paul

Church of England Diocese: Rochester


The monument includes an enclosure castle situated on a gentle east facing
slope in an area of Greensand. The castle has ruined upstanding remains of
medieval masonry dating from about 1300, surrounded by a partially infilled
circular moat.

The enclosed central area of the castle measures c.48m in diameter and
contains the remains of the enclosing wall, which constituted the castle's
main defence, with the gateway entrance on the north east side. The gatehouse
is formed by two drum towers which survive to the first floor level. These
incorporate a number of features including arrow-loops, external portcullis
grooves and a water chute above the entrance way. Within the eastern tower is
a well. On the south eastern edge of the enclosed area are the remains of a
mural tower which survives up to c.7m high and appears to be contemporary with
the gatehouse.

On the west side of the interior inside the enclosing wall is a rectangular
building 11m north-south by 6m east-west, thought to be a chapel. Although the
building may incorporate some of the earlier construction of the castle, it is
believed to relate to the private house which was built within the castle
ruins during the 16th century.

Surrounding the central area is a moat, visible to the north, west and south
as an earthwork up to 15m wide and 1m deep. To the east the moat has become
infilled and is no longer visible from ground level, surviving as a buried
feature. An entrance causeway crosses the moat to the north east.

There is little documentary evidence which records the earliest history of
Leybourne Castle but it has been suggested that the castle was originally
Norman, dating to the 11th or 12th century. The majority of the upstanding
masonry, however, dates to the early 14th century and the gateway was built
during the reign of Edward III.

The 16th century house, erected in the ruins of the castle, remained until
1930 when the present house was built along the eastern line of the castle

Leybourne Castle ruins are Listed Grade II*, but are nevertheless included in
the scheduling except where incorporated into the modern house.

Excluded from the scheduling are the modern inhabited house, fences, fence
posts and gates, although the ground beneath all these features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

An enclosure castle is a defended residence or stronghold, built mainly of
stone, in which the principal or sole defence comprises the walls and towers
bounding the site. Some form of keep may have stood within the enclosure but
this was not significant in defensive terms and served mainly to provide
accommodation. Larger sites might have more than one line of walling and there
are normally mural towers and gatehouses. Outside the walls a ditch, either
waterfilled or dry, crossed by bridges may be found. The first enclosure
castles were constructed at the time of the Norman Conquest. However, they
developed considerably in form during the 12th century when defensive
experience gained during the Crusades was applied to their design. The
majority of examples were constructed in the 13th century although a few were
built as late as the 14th century. Some represent reconstructions of earlier
medieval earthwork castles of the motte and bailey type, although others were
new creations. They provided strongly defended residences for the king or
leading families and occur in both urban and rural situations. Enclosure
castles are widely dispersed throughout England, with a slight concentration
in Kent and Sussex supporting a vulnerable coast, and a strong concentration
along the Welsh border where some of the best examples were built under Edward
I. They are rare nationally with only 126 recorded examples. Considerable
diversity of form is exhibited with no two examples being exactly alike. With
other castle types, they are major medieval monument types which, belonging to
the highest levels of society, frequently acted as major administrative
centres and formed the foci for developing settlement patterns. Castles
generally provide an emotive and evocative link to the past and can provide a
valuable educational resource, both with respect to medieval warfare and
defence and with respect to wider aspects of medieval society. All examples
retaining significant remains of medieval date are considered to be nationally

Leybourne Castle survives comparatively well despite the later construction
of a house within the defences. Large areas of the ward and surrounding moat
have remained undisturbed and contain both archaeological remains and
environmental evidence. These will provide an insight into the construction of
the castle as well as the economy and way of life of the inhabitants of a
13th century enclosure castle.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County, (1906), 481
Pevsner, N, Newman, J, The Buildings of England: West Kent and the Weald, (1980), 380
Ordnance Survey, TQ 65 NE 19, (1959)

Source: Historic England

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