Ancient Monuments

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Starborough Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Dormansland, Surrey

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Latitude: 51.1783 / 51°10'41"N

Longitude: 0.0387 / 0°2'19"E

OS Eastings: 542595.875011

OS Northings: 144091.587722

OS Grid: TQ425440

Mapcode National: GBR LMR.4KW

Mapcode Global: VHHQ2.MN92

Entry Name: Starborough Castle

Scheduled Date: 11 March 1953

Last Amended: 23 December 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017522

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29297

County: Surrey

Civil Parish: Dormansland

Traditional County: Surrey

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Surrey

Church of England Parish: Dormansland St John the Evangelist

Church of England Diocese: Southwark


The monument includes a quadrangular castle situated within a sandstone valley
on the southern side of the River Eden, around 3km to the south west of
Edenbridge. The castle buildings, which were constructed upon a roughly
square, artificial island of 0.8ha, survive mainly in the form of buried
foundations and associated archaeological remains. Documentary evidence and a
17th century engraving suggest that the castle buildings were faced with
sandstone ashlar and ranged around a central courtyard. The outer defences
included a high curtain wall with projecting, circular corner towers.
Surrounding the island is a water-filled, roughly square moat up to 25m wide.
Modern drainage and service trenches have caused some disturbance to the moat,
although original, in situ masonry survives within its coursed sandstone
lining. The moat walling is Listed Grade II*. Access to the island was by way
of a now dismantled central bridge over the southern arm of the moat, traces
of the foundations of which were discovered during the construction of a
replacement bridge in 1984.
Most of the original castle buildings have been dated to 1341, when the then
owner, Lord Cobham, was granted licence to crenellate his residence at
Starborough. The monument is recorded as one of the places of captivity of the
Duke of Orleans after the battle of Agincourt in 1415. The castle was
dismantled by order of the Parliamentary government in 1648, when it was
feared that it could be used as a focus for Royalist resistance.
During the 18th century the monument was remodelled and reused as an
ornamental landscape feature, forming part of the grounds of the adjacent
country house. The level of the central island was significantly raised and
landscaped, and in 1754, the then owner, Sir James Burrow, built a
Gothic style garden house of dressed sandstone within its north eastern
corner. This building is Listed Grade II*. The building material included some
reused medieval masonry originating from the earlier castle buildings.
The moat, island and garden house underwent renovation during the 1980s and
now form part of a separate residence.
The garden house and its associated outbuildings, all modern paving, garden
structures, modern walling and fencing, the modern surface of the driveway and
the modern stone bridge are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground
beneath all these features 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 the medieval buildings of Starborough Castle have been dismantled,
the monument retains significant evidence for its original form, including the
moat and in situ foundations and masonry. The castle also represents the 18th
and 19th century phenomenon of Romantic Antiquarianism, involving the
remodelling and reuse of an earlier, medieval structure as the focus of a
landscaped garden.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County, (1912), 302
British Museum (copy with owner), Hollar, Wenceslas , Starborough Castle, (1640)

Source: Historic England

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