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Quadrangular castle at Beverston

A Scheduled Monument in Beverston, Gloucestershire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.6442 / 51°38'39"N

Longitude: -2.2013 / 2°12'4"W

OS Eastings: 386163.462024

OS Northings: 193955.866007

OS Grid: ST861939

Mapcode National: GBR 1NR.VMV

Mapcode Global: VH95B.SXLX

Entry Name: Quadrangular castle at Beverston

Scheduled Date: 9 October 1981

Last Amended: 8 August 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008620

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22881

County: Gloucestershire

Civil Parish: Beverston

Traditional County: Gloucestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Gloucestershire

Church of England Parish: Beverston St Mary the Virgin

Church of England Diocese: Gloucester

Details

The monument includes a quadrangular castle set on level ground 50m south of
St Mary's Church at Beverston, in an area of the Cotswold Hills. The castle
includes medieval, post-medieval and modern components and is partially
occupied. Some areas of the castle survive largely in their original medieval
form, while others are now occupied by more recent structures. Those parts of
the castle which survive as upstanding masonry are Listed Grade I.
The western wing, which remains unoccupied, constitutes the best surviving
section of the original castle. This survives as a three storey building
attached to a rectangular corner tower at each end. The southern range is now
largely occupied by an 18th century house, built of rubble with a Cotswold
stone roof, while in the east the only upstanding remains are those of the
gatehouse. The former northern wing has been replaced by modern structures.
The monument has a well recorded history of construction. The earliest
surviving parts of the castle relate to the fortifications developed by
Maurice de Gaunt who purchased the site in around 1225; by c.1229 a roughly
pentagonal castle had been constructed without licence. This structure was
associated with round towers and a twin tower gatehouse. In 1873 the footings
of a circular tower 8m in diameter were uncovered within the rectory garden
outside the moat on the western side of the monument. These have not been
located precisely, but are likely to relate to the fortifications of the early
castle.
In 1330 Thomas Lord Berkeley is known to have purchased the site and
redeveloped its fortifications. This period witnessed the addition of a large
square south western tower with a vaulted basement and an integral chapel,
together with the associated domestic block and the eastern gatehouse. The
surrounding ditch was constructed during this period and there was an external
drawbridge leading to the gatehouse. The smaller north western tower is likely
to have been constructed during the 15th century.
The redevelopment of the castle was completed during the 15th century and it
eventually took a quadrangular form, with four corner towers, a barbican and
gatehouse arranged around a central courtyard and surrounded by an external
ditch. The courtyard survives as an open area to the west of the gatehouse
with dimensions of 28m by 15m. The surrounding ditch remains visible on the
western and southern sides of the monument. On the western side the ditch is
an earthwork 10m wide and up to c.4m deep and on the southern side it is
visible as a terrace within a landscaped garden. Elsewhere the ditch has
become infilled, although it survives as a buried feature c.10m wide.
The house, which now occupies the southern range of the castle, dates to
around 1791. This overlies the site of the former 13th century hall which was
destroyed by fire during the early 17th century and itself replaced by another
farmhouse also destroyed by fire prior to 1791.
The castle does not occupy a particularly good defensive position and is
likely to have been of strategic importance because of its proximity to the
main Bristol to Gloucester road which lies c.100m to the south. The site was
twice besieged in 1644, during the Civil War, before being taken by the
Parliamentarians.
The structures comprising the western area of the castle, including the towers
and intermediate domestic block which are Listed Grade I and the eastern
gatehouse also Listed Grade I, are included. All structures which are
permanently occupied are excluded from the scheduling. These include the
structure adjacent to the eastern side of the castle building and the
structures to the north and south of the central courtyard; the underlying
ground is, however, included. The metalled surfaces in the courtyard are also
excluded, as is the footbridge, although the underlying ground is included.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A quadrangular castle is a strongly fortified residence built of stone, or
sometimes brick, around a square or rectangular courtyard. The outer walls
formed a defensive line, frequently with towers sited on the corners and
occasionally in intermediate positions as well. Some of the very strongly
defended examples have additional external walls. Ditches, normally wet but
sometimes dry, were also found outside the walls. Two main types of
quadrangular castle have been identified. In the southern type, the angle and
intermediate mural towers were most often round in plan and projected markedly
from the enclosing wall. In the northern type, square angle towers, often of
massive proportions, were constructed, these projecting only slightly from the
main wall. Within the castle, accommodation was provided in the towers or in
buildings set against the walls which opened onto the central courtyard. An
important feature of quadrangular castles was that they were planned and built
to an integrated, often symmetrical, design. Once built, therefore, they did
not lend themselves easily to modification. The earliest and finest examples
of this class of castle are found in Wales, dating from 1277, but they also
began to appear in England at the same time. Most examples were built in the
14th century but the tradition extended into the 15th century. Later examples
demonstrate an increasing emphasis on domestic comfort to the detriment of
defence and, indeed, some late examples are virtually defenceless. They
provided residences for the king or leading families and occur in both rural
and urban situations. Quadrangular castles are widely dispersed throughout
England with a slight concentration in Kent and Sussex protecting a vulnerable
coastline and routes to London. Other concentrations are found in the north
near the Scottish border and also in the west on the Welsh border. They are
rare nationally with only 64 recorded examples of which 44 are of southern
type and 20 are of northern type. Considerable diversity of form is exhibited
with no two examples being exactly alike. With other types of castle, 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 to wider aspects of
medieval society. All examples retaining significant remains of medieval date
are considered to be of national importance.

The quadrangular castle at Beverston survives in part in its original
medieval form and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence
relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed. The
monument, which represents one of only two such sites known in Gloucestershire
offers an insight into the structure of medieval society in this area and the
nature of the local economy. The location of the monument will also have
exerted a strong influence over the development of the local settlement
pattern.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
'Trans of Bristol and Gloucester Arch Soc' in Annual General Meeting 1928, , Vol. 50, (1928), 35
'Trans of Bristol and Gloucester Arch Soc' in Annual General Meeting 1899, , Vol. 22, (1899), 9
'Trans of Bristol and Gloucester Arch Soc' in Annual General Meeting 1899, , Vol. 22, (1899), 6-7
'Trans of Bristol and Gloucester Arch Soc' in Annual General Meeting 1899, , Vol. 22, (1899), 6
'Trans of Bristol and Gloucester Arch Soc' in Annual General Meeting 1899, , Vol. 22, (1899), 5
'Trans of Bristol and Gloucester Arch Soc' in Annual General Meeting 1899, , Vol. 22, (1899), 5
'Trans of Bristol and Gloucester Arch Soc' in Annual General Meeting 1899, , Vol. 22, (1899), 6-7
'Trans of Bristol and Gloucester Arch Soc' in Annual General Meeting 1899, , Vol. 22, (1899), 6-7
Other
15th century date of smaller tower,
Best surviving medieval remains in w,
Details of 14th century alterations,
Discovery of circular footings 1873,
Find of gold slater,
Originally surrounded by moat,

Source: Historic England

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