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Ravensworth quadrangular castle

A Scheduled Monument in Lamesley, Gateshead

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Latitude: 54.9263 / 54°55'34"N

Longitude: -1.6389 / 1°38'19"W

OS Eastings: 423242.119077

OS Northings: 559128.503514

OS Grid: NZ232591

Mapcode National: GBR JCZG.ZV

Mapcode Global: WHC3X.SFSR

Entry Name: Ravensworth quadrangular castle

Scheduled Date: 22 October 1976

Last Amended: 24 September 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016975

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32068

County: Gateshead

Civil Parish: Lamesley

Traditional County: Durham

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Tyne and Wear

Church of England Parish: Lamesley

Church of England Diocese: Durham


The monument includes the medieval remains of Ravensworth Castle, which is
situated in woodland 600m south east of Trench Hall. There are three phases to
the castle; a medieval quadrangular castle, an 18th century country house, and
a 19th century country house. The monument includes the remains of the
medieval fortified house and the below ground remains of the 18th century
country house built within the area of the medieval castle. The 19th century
country house, Listed Grade II*, and stable block, Listed Grade II, are not
included in the scheduling.
The medieval fortified house, the standing remains of which are Listed Grade
II*, was built in the style of a quadrangular castle, which is a typical form
of the 14th century. The remains include two corner towers, sections of
curtain walling and deposits preserved beneath the present ground surface. The
two surviving corner towers are in the north east and south east corners of
the quadrangle. Both stand to 10m high, almost their full original height,
although the crenellation of both towers is now absent. They are of roughly
coursed sandstone construction quoined with ashlar. The quoins of the south
tower (between 0.5 and 1m wide) are wider than those of the north tower,
(approximately 0.25m wide) and the north tower is only quoined above a
chamfered string course at first floor level. The south tower is also larger
(8.5m by 6m) than the north tower (7.5m by 6m). The north tower has a brick
vaulted basement level entered and lit from an opening in the west wall. A
doorway in the south wall gives access to a stair leading up to the principal
chamber of the tower. An additional stair, immediately inside the doorway,
leads up the south wall to the roof and also provides access to the top of the
east curtain wall. The principal chamber has a pointed vault supported on a
chamfered string, a fireplace in the north wall, a window in the east wall, a
recessed shelf in the south wall and access to a garderobe which extends along
the south side of the chamber. A doorway in the west wall, which provided
access to the curtain wall, is partially blocked to form a round headed
window. The south tower has a basement level entered via an opening in the
west wall. A small room is immediately on the left of the entrance and is lit
by a window in the west wall. The principal chamber is entered through an
internally rebated doorway. It has a slab vault, a blocked window in the east
wall and a fireplace in the south wall. A narrow chamber is accessed from the
principal chamber and runs the length of the north wall. A doorway in the
north wall of the tower gives access via a stair along the west wall to the
upper levels of the tower. It is lit by a four-light window at first floor
level in the west wall. The principal chamber of the first floor has a slab
vault, an inserted window in the west wall and a firepalce in the south wall.
This room gives access to a small chamber built into the south curtain wall
and a long narrow chamber running the length of the north wall with a stone
sink at its western end. The principal chamber of the second floor has a
rounded vault carried on a roll moulded string course. The chamber has a
projecting fireplace in the north wall, a window in the east wall, and a
recessed shelf and blocked window in the south wall. The south wall also gives
access to a garderobe in the south west corner. The stair gives access to a
mezzanine level and the roof.
Sections of curtain wall survive attached to the towers. These are of roughly
coursed rubble construction, 1.5m wide, and standing up to 4m high. The two
surviving sections of the east curtain extend approximately 7m out from each
of the surviving corner towers. The section attached to the north tower
decreases in height by a series of steps; this was first depicted in 1728 on
an illustration by Nathaniel and Samuel Buck. The section attached to the
south tower also decreases in height with distance from the tower, although
the stepped profile depicted in the 1728 illustration has been altered by a
stair leading onto the wall from the first floor of the north tower. The
surviving section of the south curtain wall extends west from the south tower
for 7m and is of two parts. The first 3m from the tower is of roughly coursed
rubble construction and has a splayed window at ground level, and above this a
room contained within the wall which is accessed from the first floor of the
south tower. The south curtain wall has been extended with well-coursed
The 18th century country house was erected within the medieval quadrangle in
1724 and altered and improved under the advice of James Paine (the architect
who also designed nearby Gibside chapel) by 1759. It was demolished prior to
the erection of the second house in 1808. No identifiable remains of it are
visible, although remains will be preserved beneath the present ground
surface. Plans of this house prior to the alterations of the mid-18th century
show features of the medieval period incorporated into its fabric.
The second house was built between 1808 and 1846. The main house lay
immediately west of the medieval castle but some of its service buildings and
yards overlay the medieval centre or, in the case of the stable block, stand
to its east. The majority of the house was demolished in 1953. Two parts of
the 19th century house are within the medieval quadrangle: a gateway and the
remains of service buildings. The Tudor arch gateway is flanked on either side
by a 4m long, 4m high wall terminating at a 7m high round turret. It is of
coursed ashlar sandstone and the crenellations, which only survive above the
gateway, extended along the walls and on the turrets. The surviving remains of
the service buildings are constructed of a mixture of roughly coursed rubble
and brick. The gateway and service block within the area of the medieval
centre are included in the scheduling as they may retain medieval fabric
within their structures.
The first reference to the place name of Ravensworth occurs in AD 1080 in
association with Bishop Flambard. It was granted to the bishop's nephew,
Richard Fitz-Marmaduke in whose family it remained until the 14th century. The
castle then passed by marriage to the Lumleys, who retained it until the
latter part of the 15th century. In 1489 it passed by marriage to Sir Henry
Boynton of Sedbury and similarly in 1530 it passed to Sir Henry Gascoigne. In
1607 the castle was bought by Sir Thomas Lidell, in whose family it remained
until 1976.

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.

Though altered the surviving remains of the medieval fortified house and the
18th century country house will provide information on the form and evolution
of the site known as Ravensworth Castle. The 19th century country house,
although not included in the scheduling, continues the story of development on
the site into the 19th and 20th centuries.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hutchinson, W, The History and Antiquaries of the County Palatine of Durham, (1787)
Surtees, R, History of the County Palatine of Durham: Volume II, (1820), 208
Wardle, S, Ravensworth Castle, (1997)
Notes: Society of Antiquaries visit, Ryder, P, Ravensworth Castle (Durham), (1996)
WWW-BR 177 3, 7 and 8, Sheffield City Archives, Plans of Ravensworth Castle,

Source: Historic England

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