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Dudley Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Castle and Priory, Dudley

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Latitude: 52.5146 / 52°30'52"N

Longitude: -2.0796 / 2°4'46"W

OS Eastings: 394693.026045

OS Northings: 290744.94363

OS Grid: SO946907

Mapcode National: GBR 4QC.XZ

Mapcode Global: VH91B.W2Y5

Entry Name: Dudley Castle

Scheduled Date: 8 February 1915

Last Amended: 18 January 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014042

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21613

County: Dudley

Electoral Ward/Division: Castle and Priory

Built-Up Area: Dudley (Dudley)

Traditional County: Staffordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Midlands

Church of England Parish: Dudley St Edmund King and Martyr

Church of England Diocese: Worcester


The monument is situated in a commanding position on a high limestone ridge
overlooking the town of Dudley and includes the standing, earthwork and buried
remains of Dudley Castle.
In c.1071 William the Conqueror granted extensive estates centred on Dudley
to William FitzAnsculph. By the early 12th century a large part of his estate,
including the castle, passed to Fulke Paganel who is thought to have
replaced the original timber defences with stone. Due to the family's support
of the king's sons in their rebellion of 1174, the castle was partly
demolished by Henry II the following year. In 1194 Dudley Castle came into the
possession of the de Somery family and, at the end of the 13th century, was
refortified by Roger de Somery. On his death it passed through marriage to
John de Sutton and remained in the family's possession until the mid-17th
century. During the Civil War, it was surrendered to the Parliamentarians who
demolished part of the castle's defences to render it untenable. However,
Dudley Castle remained in use as a residence until the mid-18th century, when
a fire within the habitable parts of the castle effectively ended domestic
The motte and bailey castle was constructed by William FitzAnsculph towards
the end of the 11th century and is mentioned in the Domesday survey of 1086.
The motte and the oval bailey to its north are surrounded and strengthened by
a dry ditch to the west, north and east. A large proportion of this ditch is
now occupied by the animal enclosures of Dudley Zoo and it is best preserved
along the south eastern side of the bailey. The ditch is in turn surrounded on
all sides by an outer court which takes the form of a level platform beyond
which the ground falls away steeply, particularly to the west and east. The
northern, north eastern and western boundaries of the outer court are now
difficult to identify on the ground since modern buildings associated with the
zoo have cut into the platform. It is thought to have originally been bounded
by earthen banks which were replaced, at least along the south eastern side of
the court, by a masonry wall and a gateway. These structures are believed to
have been erected by the de Somery family in the late 16th century and they
are included in the scheduling. During the medieval period the outer court is
thought to have been occupied by the castle's ancillary and industrial
structures and although there is no surface evidence for these remains they
will survive as buried features.
The motte is located at the southern end of the bailey and has been
artificially raised. It stands to a height of approximately 9m and an
excavation of part of the motte itself revealed dry stone revetments and
platforms thought to be associated with its initial construction. The motte
was originally separated from the bailey by a ditch which, although now
infilled, will survive as a buried feature.
In 1264 John de Somery was granted a licence to crenallate Dudley Castle and
was responsible for constructing the stone keep on the motte and the curtain
walls around the bailey at the beginning of the 14th century. The standing
remains of these structures are Listed Grade I and are included in the
scheduling. The distinctively planned keep measures approximately 22m east to
west and 15m north to south externally and has semicircular towers 9.8m
across, projecting slightly from each corner. Following the Civil War the
southern half of the keep was slighted in order to render it untenable, but it
was partly restored and battlements were added by Viscount Dudley and Ward in
the late 18th century. An excavation on the southern side of the motte during
the 1980s exposed the foundations of the keep, and its main batter (inwardly
sloping wall) was found to sit over an offset stone plinth which, in turn,
lies upon a wider bed of masonry askew to the alignment of the keep. The
offset is considered to predate the construction of the keep and represents
the remains of part of an earlier keep which was reused as the foundations of
its 14th century replacement. A wall which encloses a narrow area roughly
concentric to the later keep was also located and this is believed to have
been constructed during the late 14th century as a defensive feature to
protect the foot of the keep walls. The excavation also recovered evidence for
a semicircular brick structure on the motte and this is included in the
scheduling. It is thought to represent the remains of a World War II
searchlight and lookout post, which illustrates the continued topographic
importance of the castle's location into the mid-20th century.
The bailey has a relatively level surface and measures 100m north to south and
80m east to west, an area of approximately 0.8ha. Excavations within its
eastern half have recovered evidence for the early occupation of the castle,
including traces of timber structures and a number of pits, but further
archaeological remains relating to the castle's original buildings will
survive as buried features.
A 2m thick curtain wall surrounded the bailey from at least the early 14th
century. Much of its eastern length has been incorporated within the later
domestic buildings of the castle, whilst parts of the north and west curtain
wall have been replaced by thinner walling of 16th century date. The south
eastern curtain wall was demolished after the Civil War and replaced in the
17th century by a wall to the north on a different alignment. Those parts of
the curtain wall which are no longer visible above ground will survive as
buried features.
Access into the bailey is via a gatehouse which was built into the original
south eastern curtain wall. It was erected by John de Somery in c.1300, but
its side walls are earlier in date and are thought to represent part of a
pre-existing gateway. The gatehouse is a rectangular two storeyed structure
with a stone vaulted gate passage which was defended at both ends by a
portcullis. In the late 14th century a barbican was added to the gatehouse
projecting south eastwards into the castle's outer enclosure. There is also a
small gateway within the northern curtain wall. It is thought to date from the
16th century and was constructed to provide access into the northern part of
the outer court.
During the mid-14th century a building range with a chapel and domestic
apartments was erected to the north east of the main gatehouse. The chapel is
situated above a tunnel vaulted undercroft and occupies the southern half of
the range. It has a traceried, three light window within its west wall and, in
the south west wall, an ogee-headed upper doorway. To the north of the chapel
are the remains of a suite of rooms which include what is thought to have
been the Grand Chamber. Most of the window openings were altered in the 16th
century to allow more light to enter the rooms on the first floor and the
internal walls retain elaborate 16th century fireplaces.
In 1533 Dudley Castle came into the possession of Sir John Dudley, who later
became Duke of Northumberland. He sponsored the redesigning of the
accommodation at the castle under the direction of Sir William Sharrington. A
new two storeyed range of buildings, built of coursed limestone with sandstone
quoins, was erected against the eastern curtain wall. Those immediately to the
north of the chapel can be divided into two principal blocks, of which the
southern contained the hall, and the northern block the kitchen. A further
building was erected between the kitchen and the northern gateway. It has an
octagonal turret with an external entrance at its north western corner which
originally contained a staircase to provide access to the upper floors. The
first floor hall at the opposite end of the new range is approximately 24m
long and 9.5m wide and is believed to occupy the site of an earlier hall which
will survive as a buried feature. Its eastern wall has been demolished, whilst
the western wall retains mullioned and transomed windows. A loggia (a recessed
colonnade) was constructed against the external face of the hall's western
wall in the mid-16th century and it extends along much of the length of the
room. A central flight of steps originally provided access from the bailey
onto the loggia and, via a porch at its northern end, into the hall itself.
The ground floor of the adjoining northern block was occupied by the kitchen
and a large room to the south. The dividing wall retains 12th century masonry,
including the remains of a semicircular arched opening. Much of the eastern
wall of this block dates from the 16th century and has been built on the line
of the medieval curtain wall. The standing remains of these buildings, known
as the Sharrington Range, are Listed Grade I and are included in the
Excavations at Dudley Castle in the 1980s recovered further evidence of
structures associated with the 16th century remodelling of the castle. The
buried remains of a substantial building, which formed part of the Sharrington
Range, were located between the chapel and the gatehouse. It cut through a
surface which had been created by the levelling of an earlier stone building
thought to be associated with the late 12th century occupation of the castle.
An excavation immediately to the north of the keep recovered evidence for a
building which formerly stood along the south western side of the bailey. Its
position corresponds with a round headed doorway leading through the curtain
wall and it has been identified as a 16th century kitchen annexe which was
connected to the keep by a flight of steps. Further evidence for the buildings
which originally stood along the west side of the bailey include a line of
corbels and a large fireplace within the fabric of the central section of the
western curtain wall.
During the Civil War Dudley Castle was held for the king but in 1646 it was
surrendered without a siege to Sir William Brereton. The southern half of the
keep, parts of the curtain wall and the barbican were subsequently demolished
to render the castle untenable. However, it continued in use as a residence
and in the mid-17th century a two storey building, thought to have been a
stable block and further lodgings, was erected between the motte and the
gatehouse. It overlies the line of the medieval curtain wall which was
demolished after the Civil War and was built flush against the south western
wall of the gatehouse. Although the castle was inhabited until the fire in
1750, it is thought to have been used only infrequently for formal occasions
and was maintained by a skeleton staff. In the 1930s a zoo was established in
Dudley which incorporated the castle remains within its grounds. A number of
the animal enclosures were erected within the castle's outer court and include
several structures built to the designs of Messrs Tecton which are pioneering
examples of the use of reinforced concrete and are Listed Grade II. The zoo
buildings and enclosures are not included within the scheduling.
All concrete and tarmac surfaces, the animal zoo enclosures (of which the
penguin pool, sealion pool, prairie marmot enclosure and elephant house are
Listed Grade II), the modern house and its associated outbuildings which
occupy the southern end of the outer court, and the restaurant (Listed Grade
II) at its northern end are excluded from the scheduling. The street
furniture, including litter bins and benches, the floodlights, service
inspection chambers, flag pole, cannon, sundial and all railings are also
excluded, although the ground beneath all of these features is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Motte and bailey castles are medieval fortifications introduced into Britain
by the Normans. They comprised a large conical mound of earth or rubble, the
motte, surmounted by a palisade and a stone or timber tower. In a majority of
examples an embanked enclosure containing additional buildings, the bailey,
adjoined the motte. Motte castles and motte-and-bailey castles acted as
garrison forts during offensive military operations, as strongholds, and, in
many cases, as aristocratic residences and as centres of local or royal
administration. Built in towns, villages and open countryside, motte and
bailey castles generally occupied strategic positions dominating their
immediate locality and, as a result, are the most visually impressive
monuments of the early post-Conquest period surviving in the modern landscape.
Over 600 motte castles or motte-and-bailey castles are recorded nationally,
with examples known from most regions. As one of a restricted range of
recognised early post-Conquest monuments, they are particularly important for
the study of Norman Britain and the development of the feudal system. Although
many were occupied for only a short period of time, motte castles continued to
be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they
were superseded by other types of castle.

Dudley Castle survives well and is a good example of a motte and bailey castle
which was remodelled in stone in the mid-12th and early 14th centuries. The
quality of the surviving remains has been enhanced by excavation which
indicated that the castle retains important structural and artefactual
evidence relating to both its early history, and to the 16th century
structural improvements which converted it from a defensive castle into a high
status domestic residence. The 16th century Sharrington Range is of particular
interest as one of the earliest known examples of the influence of the Italian
Renaissance on the secular architecture of the West Midlands.
The wealth and importance of the castle and its inhabitants is reflected in
extensive surviving documentary records. As a monument which is open to the
public, Dudley Castle serves as a valuable educational and recreational

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
CBA Archaeology in Britain, (1984), 98-100
Boland, P, Dudley Castle Archaeological Project - Summary of Excavations, (1985), 20-24
Cocroft, WD, Dudley Castle Archaeological Project- A Summary of Excavation, (1985), 20
Linnane, SJ, Dudley Castle Archaeological Project - A Summary of Excavation, (1985), 31-32
Simpson, W D, 'Archaological Journal' in The Castles of Dudley and Ashby-de-la-Zouch, , Vol. 95, (1940), 142-158
Simpson, W D, 'Archaological Journal' in Dudley Castle : The Renaissance Buildings, , Vol. 101, (1944), 101
Youngs, S M, 'Medieval Archaeology' in Dudley Castle, , Vol. 32, (1988), 286

Source: Historic England

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