Ancient Monuments

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Bretby Castle fortified manor

A Scheduled Monument in Bretby, Derbyshire

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Latitude: 52.8053 / 52°48'19"N

Longitude: -1.5659 / 1°33'57"W

OS Eastings: 429358.199003

OS Northings: 323169.261858

OS Grid: SK293231

Mapcode National: GBR 5DZ.0Y5

Mapcode Global: WHCG6.XRH8

Entry Name: Bretby Castle fortified manor

Scheduled Date: 15 February 1982

Last Amended: 13 April 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011443

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23306

County: Derbyshire

Civil Parish: Bretby

Traditional County: Derbyshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire

Church of England Parish: Bretby St Wystan

Church of England Diocese: Derby


The monument includes the core area of the site of Bretby Castle fortified
manor and incorporates manorial remains dating from the 13th to the
17th centuries. The visible remains, which occupy a sub-rectangular
enclosure of c.3.5 ha, are those of the 16th century manor partially
excavated in 1800. The remains of earlier buildings and structures will
survive as buried features beneath the earthwork remains of later buildings.
The visible remains include, on the west and north sides, a massive outer bank
measuring up to 5m high. This bank is flanked on the inside by a ditch-like
feature which has, in the past, been inaccurately termed a moat. Although it
undoubtedly served as a boundary feature and may have had different functions
at different times, in its present form the feature has been reinterpreted as
a sunken driveway. This is in part due to the presence of two gateways visible
at its southern end. One of these leads southward towards Bretby Park and the
other westward towards Home Farm. Although the present day Home Farm was not
built until the early 19th century, it is believed to stand on the site of
earlier farmsteads belonging to the fortified manor.
On the inside, the sunken driveway is flanked by the remains of buildings
which reveal that the 16th century manor was built round two courtyards.
Although partly masked by numerous mounds of excavation spoil, the layout can
be seen to have included a large court to the north and another to the south.
Along the south-east edge of the latter, adjacent to the south gate, are the
well preserved foundations of three rectangular buildings. These are each
roughly 40m long by 15m wide and were previously thought to be fishponds. In
fact, there is no evidence for this and several factors, including the lack of
a water supply, make it unfeasible. One example includes a 2m deep cellar and
two exhibit evidence of opposing doorways. It is therefore likely that they
were ancillary or service buildings. These three features previously thought
to be fishponds are excluded from the scheduling. Alongside them to the north-
east is a level area interpreted as a small yard or, alternatively, a kitchen
garden. Additional features lie to the north of this. Formerly, the manor site
would also have extended further to the north-east. However, although further
remains, including those of a chapel, will survive beneath modern development
in this area, they are not included in the scheduling as their extent and
state of survival is not sufficiently understood.
Originally a berewick or outlier of Newton Manor, Bretby became a separate
manor in the 13th century when it was granted by Ranulf, Earl of Chester, to
Stephen de Segrave who, amongst other attributes, was Justiciar of England
between 1232 and 1234 and once acted as joint regent for Henry III during the
king's absence. It may have been he who built the first manor house. In 1300,
Edward I granted Stephen's great-grandson John Segrave licence to crenellate,
that is fortify the manor house at Bretby. This may have been the origin of
the massive outer earthworks which would have been surmounted by a castellated
wall. John Segrave had a distinguished career as a royal servant, including in
1302 being made constable of Berwick Castle and the king's lieutenant on the
Border and in occupied Scotland. However, during the civil strife between the
factions of Edward II and his queen, Isabella, the Segraves incurred royal
displeasure and John and his sons were despatched to serve in Gascony and
Aquitaine where John and his heir, Stephen, died.
Stephen's son, John, inherited the Segrave lands which then passed to his
daughter after his own death in 1352, and from there, by marriage, to the
Mowbray and Berkley families. The Bretby estate was purchased by Philip
Stanhope in 1610 and the manor house subsequently demolished, reputedly to
provide building materials to build a mansion house in the new Bretby Park.
The house known as Castlefield, all modern boundary fences and gates, and a
stable are all excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these
features is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Fortified manors were the residences of the lesser nobility and richer
burgesses and date from the late 12th century and throughout the rest of the
Middle Ages. Generally they comprise a hall and residential wing, domestic
ranges, and fortifications such as a moat or crenellated wall or both. The
site at Bretby is relatively typical in that it is a large and complex site
which remained occupied until the 17th century and therefore retains
archaeological remains of buildings and structures of all periods over a very
wide area. It is an exceptionally well documented site with important
historical associations.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Derby: Volume I, (1905)
Craven, M, Stanley, M, The Derbyshire Country House, (1982)
Craven, D. and Drage, C., Moated Sites List, 1982, SMR
On EH file, Sinar, Joan, Bretby (historical notes),
On EH file, Staples, David, Bretby: Proposed Conservation Area (historical notes),

Source: Historic England

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