Ancient Monuments

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Pengersick Castle and associated building platform

A Scheduled Monument in Breage, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.1067 / 50°6'24"N

Longitude: -5.3828 / 5°22'58"W

OS Eastings: 158213.863089

OS Northings: 28433.893484

OS Grid: SW582284

Mapcode National: GBR FX2D.K55

Mapcode Global: VH131.NL52

Entry Name: Pengersick Castle and associated building platform

Scheduled Date: 10 August 1923

Last Amended: 9 December 2009

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021407

English Heritage Legacy ID: 36039

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Breage

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: St Germoe

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes the below ground remains associated with Pengersick
Castle and an associated building platform protected within two areas. The
castle and platform sit within a shallow basin on a south facing slope
overlooking the English Channel.

The building platform, located to the north east of the castle, probably
represents the site of a large dwelling, confirmed by geophysical survey,
which was abandoned when the adjacent castle was constructed in the early
part of the 16th century. The platform survives as a 33m long by 19m wide
levelled area cut into the hillside and may date to the 14th century or

Pengersick Castle itself included a substantial mansion associated with a
tower, two courtyards and a range of service buildings including a chapel,
stables and gatehouse. The tower is the most visually impressive of the
surviving structures and is a Listed Building Grade I, which is excluded from
the scheduling, although the ground beneath is included. The gatehouse
stands to the north of the original entrance into the western courtyard and
is Listed Grade II* along with the shippon which overlies the site of the
mansion whose position and character are known from early antiquarian
drawings. The mansion was situated north of the tower and was aligned north
to south. It is known to have had a very fine east facing porch and
information relating to this building will survive as buried archaeology. The
gatehouse and shippon are excluded from the scheduling, but the ground
beneath is included.

The southern edge of the western courtyard is known from archaeological
investigations. The eastern courtyard was denoted by a range of buildings
linked to the tower and mansion by two separate lengths of walling. External
entry to this courtyard was limited to a single passage leading through the
eastern side adjacent to the stables, whilst there was also access from the
house and tower. The stables situated along the eastern and south eastern
edges of the courtyard were subsequently converted into farm buildings and
ultimately into a dwelling. These buildings are Listed Grade II and are
excluded from the scheduling, but the ground beneath is included. A single
building is known to have existed against the northern wall of the eastern
courtyard and this has been identified as a chapel. Partial excavation in
this area revealed window glass and lead cames believed to be late medieval
in date.

Considerable quantities of documentary evidence survive relating to both
Pengersick and the people who lived there. A number of early 13th century
individuals are named de Pengersick, but many of them may have come from the
adjacent hamlet. By the start of the 14th century a Henry Lord of Pengrysek
was in control of the estate and he may have been responsible for building
the first defended house on the site now represented by the building platform
to the north east of the later castle. The owners of Pengersick played a
major role in the Cornish social scene and politics with for example John of
Pengersick being granted the capteynshippe of St Michael's Mount in 1522.
There is considerable debate concerning who was responsible for building the
new mansion, tower and courtyards which were to become known as Pengersick
Castle. The accepted sequence of events is that the mansion and courtyards
were built in the early part of the 16th century after Pengersick passed
through marriage into the Millaton family. Finally, the tower was added by a
William Millaton in the mid 16th century shortly before his death and the
breakup of the estate following the premature death of his son and its
partition between six daughters. The partition of the estate was followed by
a period in which the mansion and tower were occupied only as an occasional
residence by tenants and finally sometime in the 17th century it was
abandoned and by the early 18th century was largely uninhabitable. In
subsequent years, some of the ruinous buildings were robbed for building
stone and some converted into barns and other farm buildings. Finally during
the 20th century some of these farm buildings together with some parts of the
castle were converted into dwellings.

All dwellings, roofed buildings, modern surfaces and garden features are
excluded from the scheduling, but the ground beneath is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Fortified houses were residences belonging to some of the richest and most
powerful members of society. Their design reflects a combination of domestic
and military elements. In some instances, the fortifications may be cosmetic
additions to an otherwise conventional high status dwelling, giving a military
aspect while remaining practically indefensible. They are associated with
individuals or families of high status and their ostentatious architecture
often reflects a high level of expenditure. The nature of the fortification
varies, but can include moats, curtain walls, a gatehouse and other towers,
gunports and crenellated parapets.
Their buildings normally included a hall used as communal space for domestic
and administrative purposes, kitchens, service and storage areas. In later
houses the owners had separate private living apartments, these often
receiving particular architectural emphasis. In common with castles, some
fortified houses had outer courts beyond the main defences in which stables,
brew houses, granaries and barns were located.
Fortified houses were constructed in the medieval period, primarily between
the 15th and 16th centuries, although evidence from earlier periods, such as
the increase in the number of licences to crenellate in the reigns of Edward I
and Edward II, indicates that the origins of the class can be traced further
back. They are found primarily in several areas of lowland England: in upland
areas they are outnumbered by structures such as bastles and tower houses
which fulfilled many of the same functions. As a rare monument type, with
fewer than 200 identified examples, all examples exhibiting significant
surviving archaeological remains are considered of national importance.

Despite alterations, Pengersick Castle and the associated building platform
survive very well and will contain significant archaeological and
architectural information relating to their development and use.
Archaeological investigations over the years have confirmed that much
information remains below the present day ground surface.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Herring, P et al, Pengersick, Breage - An archaeological and historical assessment, (1998)
Johns, C, Pengersick Castle, Breage, Cornwall Archaeological recording, (2001)

Source: Historic England

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