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Brampton Bryan castle

A Scheduled Monument in Brampton Bryan, Herefordshire,

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Latitude: 52.3478 / 52°20'51"N

Longitude: -2.9259 / 2°55'33"W

OS Eastings: 337027.668483

OS Northings: 272589.911293

OS Grid: SO370725

Mapcode National: GBR B9.T89Y

Mapcode Global: VH76R.78K1

Entry Name: Brampton Bryan castle

Scheduled Date: 4 June 1935

Last Amended: 18 June 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014109

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27500

County: Herefordshire,

Civil Parish: Brampton Bryan

Traditional County: Herefordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Herefordshire

Church of England Parish: Wigmore Abbey

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument includes the ruined, earthwork and buried remains of the
quadrangular castle at Brampton Bryan, situated on floodplain south of the
River Teme, 50m north of the church. The medieval layout of the castle appears
to have been four ranges built around a courtyard, with a gatehouse contained
within the southern curtain wall, to which a large outer gatehouse was later
added. The whole monument was constructed on a mound or motte, and surrounded
by a moat. The north range contained the hall and service bay, both at first
floor level, with the kitchen to the east. Private accommodation was contained
in the other ranges, with further chambers above the gate passage of the inner
gatehouse, and on the first floor of the outer gatehouse.

The castle originally stood on an earthen motte, part of which can be seen
around the inner gatehouse and hall range. This in turn was surrounded by a
moat, with the approach to the castle being from the south across a bridge to
the gatehouse. Subsequent landscaping for the later house and gardens has
obscured the full extent of the castle accommodation and the moat at the
surface, however evidence for these features will survive below ground. The
steep slope to the north of the hall range wall, which now continues eastwards
along the edge of the garden, probably represents the original northern extent
of the motte.

The standing remains are built of local sandstone rubble and ashlar, and are
Listed Grade I. They represent several phases of construction, and include the
outer gatehouse, part of the inner gatehouse, and part of the south wall of
the hall and kitchen range. The earliest documentary references tell us that
Bryan de Brampton had a `tower with curtilage' on the site in 1295. It is
generally considered that the earliest phase of the present structure is
represented by the great hall and inner gatehouse, which were either
de Brampton's work or were built shortly after 1309, when the castle passed to
Robert Harley by his marriage to Bryan's daughter Margaret. The inner
gatehouse projected inwards from the southern curtain wall, which still stands
to its east and west, and its north and south wall stand almost to their full
original height. The entrance is formed by two arches through the wall, with
an opening for a portcullis between them; an early example of ball-flower
ornament can still be seen over the inner arch. There is a single arch at the
northern exit of the gateway passage, to the east of which is a contemporary
doorway, and to the west the shell of a 16th century stair-turret. The first
floor would have housed the portcullis, and contains a single chamber, with a
garderobe or latrine closet. A fireplace in the north wall is flanked by
single windows, both with seats in their embrasures. With the construction of
the outer gatehouse, two doorways were inserted into the south wall of the
inner gatehouse, giving access to the upper staircases and walkway along the
top of the outer gatehouse walls. At second floor level the single chamber in
the inner gatehouse also has a fireplace and garderobe. There is a window with
seat to the north, west of which a foliate capital of 13th century date has
been reused in the wall.

The outer gatehouse was added some time later in the 14th century. The gateway
in its south wall consists of two arches enclosing a portcullis groove, above
which a moulded string with ball-flower decoration is set below a further
arch. This entrance is flanked by two round towers, each of c.5m external
diameter and with two storeys remaining. On the ground floor the east tower
houses a polygonal chamber, containing a fireplace in the south west quarter
with a single window to the west, and garderobe to the north of the gate-
passage doorway. The first floor chamber is open to a portcullis room over the
gate arch, and has two windows and a garderobe above the one on the ground
floor. The portcullis room itself has a fireplace in the north wall, which is
carried by an arch over the entrance passage. Its octagonal chimney stack is a
16th century addition and has a crenellated top. The west tower houses a
circular chamber at ground floor level, with a well at its centre now
infilled. An opening to the south west is roofed with a series of arches
stepped down towards the well. The chamber above has two windows, one with
ball-flower ornament, and was entered via a mural stairway opening off the
west side of the gatehouse passage.
The remains of the hall and kitchen range are c.12m north of the inner
gatehouse; the courtyard which separated them was cut through within the last
century to provide access between the later hall to the west and the tennis
courts to the east. All that remains of the hall block is part of the original
14th century south wall, and the three-storeyed 16th century staircase bay, or
porch, enclosing the original hall doorway. To either side of this doorway are
small windows which would have lit the basement. Above the eastern one is a
similar window with a window-seat; the remains of others to the east would
have lit the service bay. The hall would have been lit by similar windows
overlooking the courtyard; both hall and service bay were at first floor level
while the kitchen, to the east, was at basement level and rose through two
floors. There was a chamber over the service bay and kitchen, from which
access was later made into a small room on the upper floor of the porch. With
the construction of the porch a fireplace was inserted above the door. Lit on
all three sides by large windows, the porch was entered through a door in its
east wall; the stairs to the hall doorway have been removed.

The staircase-bay, and the stair-turret in the south west corner of the
courtyard, were part of considerable alterations begun in the late 16th
century by Thomas Harley. His intention was to increase the comfort and
convenience of the castle as a home rather than a military stronghold. The
work continued after the succession of Sir Robert Harley MP in 1631, and
appears to have been still in progress when the castle was besieged by the
Royalists in 1643. In Sir Robert's absence, his wife Lady Brilliana held the
castle for seven weeks, despite bombardments from a canon on the church tower,
and a poisoned water supply (which killed the cook). The Royalist force under
Colonel Lingen eventually withdrew, however Lady Brilliana died suddenly in
October that year, and shortly afterwards the castle was taken by Sir Michael
Woodhouse and burnt to the ground; a print made some 60 years later shows
little more standing than at present survives. Twenty years after the sacking
of the castle Lady Brilliana's son, Edward, began construction of a
two-storeyed, seven-bayed house, which was later incorporated into the present
18th century Hall.

Brampton Bryan castle guards the Teme valley route into mid-Wales, an area
which has been of military importance since Roman times; three Roman forts are
situated within 2.5km to the east. Contemporary associations include motte
castles at Walford and Buckton to the east, and Bucknell to the west, and the
motte and bailey castle at Lower Stanage 4km west. All these monuments are
the subject of separate schedulings. The shed just west of the hall range and
the gravel surfaces of the Hall driveway and paths are excluded from the
scheduling, however the ground beneath them is included.

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.

Although surface evidence for the original layout of Brampton Bryan castle has
been obscured by subsequent building and landscaping, both standing and buried
remains will retain evidence for its sequence of construction and the
activities which took place at and around it. The standing remains demonstrate
its phases of construction and include a fine example of a 14th century
gatehouse, enhancing an earlier structure, with and early examples of ball-
flower ornament remaining in good condition. Below ground evidence for the
layout and method of construction of the moat will survive, and its fills will
retain environmental evidence for activities at the castle. Evidence for
structures such as the bridge will also be preserved in these fills. Within
the motte, further structural information will be preserved, including
evidence for the extent and layout of the hall, service bay and kitchen range.
In addition, it will have sealed beneath it environmental evidence for the
wider medieval landscape in which the castle was built.

In its strategic position guarding the Teme valley route into Wales, the
castle is an important element of Herefordshire's medieval defences. When
viewed with other contemporary defensive monuments in the area it will
increase our understanding of the wider political and social organisation of
the county. The Harley family is well known through contemporary records, and
interest in the castle is increased by its well-documented association with
historic events of national significance.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Slade, H G, 'Archaeological Journal' in Brampton Bryan Castle, , Vol. 138, (1981), 26-9
Harley, C C, (1995)
plan, RCHM, Herefordshire, Volume III, (1934)
Stocker, DS, (1995)

Source: Historic England

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