English Heritage's Record
EXTRACT FROM ENGLISH HERITAGE'S RECORD OF SCHEDULED MONUMENTS MONUMENT: Myddle Castle immediately south of Castle Farm PARISH:
MYDDLE AND BROUGHTON DISTRICT: NORTH SHROPSHIRE COUNTY: SHROPSHIRE NATIONAL MONUMENT NO: 32318 NATIONAL GRID REFERENCE(S): SJ46872355
Myddle Castle is the only quadrangular castle in Shropshire, and despite its alteration with the construction of modern farm buildings it survives as a significant example of this class of monument.
DESCRIPTION OF THE MONUMENT
The monument includes the earthwork, buried and standing structural remains of Myddle Castle, a quadrangular castle surrounded by a moat. The castle walls, including the stair turret, are Listed Grade II. The castle is considered to be the centre of the manor of Myddle. By 1165 the manor was acquired by the Lords le Strange of Knockin. As a Marcher Lordship, the Lord of Myddle was granted a royal licence to crenellate his mansion in 1308. In the late 15th century the manor passed from the le Stranges to the Stanley family, the Earls of Derby, and in the final decade of the 16th century the Castle was sold to the Egerton family. Many of the lords, especially the later ones, were non-resident and the castle was occupied by a constable or castle-keeper. It functioned as the Court House and the head farm of the demense - the land under the direct control of the lord of the manor. John Leland visited the castle in about 1540 and described it as `veri ruinous'. An earthquake in 1688 is said to have led to a partial collapse of the structure.
Myddle Castle was constructed on a gentle east to north east facing slope, in an area of undulating land. Little now survives of the moat as a visible feature, but the earliest large scale Ordnance Survey map (published in 1881) shows that all the arms contained water and were between 8m and 14m wide. The moat defines a rectangular island approximately 42m eastwest and 48m north-south (maximum dimensions), with a later entrance causeway across the northern part of the western arm. Material excavated from the moat was used to raise the surface of the island up to 1.8m above the level of the surrounding land. All the moat arms have been subsequently drained and infilled. The southern and western arms survive as buried features and are included in the scheduling. The opposing arms have been affected by the insertion of a late 20th century farm building, walls and a yard surface, and hence are not included in the scheduling. In his account of Myddle produced at the beginning of the 18th century, Richard Gough describes the castle as a series of `rooms' set round a courtyard with a gatehouse at the north eastern corner of the site. He notes a possible kitchen range on the eastern side, a parlour on the southern side and a hall on the western side. The early Ordnance Survey map (published in 1881) also provides some evidence of the castle's building plan. Two extant retaining walls are set at right angles along the southern and eastern sides of the island, together with the remains of a stair turret opposite the moat causeway. The extant walling is shown joining the foundations of other walls. This map indicates that the size of the castle building, excluding any ancillary structures, was about 32m east-west and 42m north-south. A small scale archaeological excavation undertaken in 1966 confirmed the extent of the castle structure and concluded that the principal living quarters lay on the western and northern sides of the island. These ranges, together with the stair turret, are shown in ruins in 18th and 19th century illustrations. The upper battlemented portion of the turret collapsed in 1976. All the visible castle walls are built of dressed blocks and neatly coursed. Red and white sandstone has been used which probably came from the quarries at Grinshill, 5km to the east. The stair turret stands as the most prominent feature on the site and was restored in 1849 and 1982. The moulded trefoilheaded doorway with panelled spandrels provided direct access to the stone newel stair, the first few steps of which survive. To the south of the stair turret the remains of a large rectangular window opening at first floor level confirm the existence of a hall on this side of the castle. A large sandstone block inscribed with the le Strange crest has been placed next to the remains of the stair turret. A number of features are excluded from the scheduling, these are: all fences, gates and modern walls, the surfaces of tracks which surround the site on its southern and western sides and the electrity pole, the ground beneath all these features is, however, included.
ASSESSMENT OF IMPORTANCE
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. Myddle Castle is the only quadrangular castle in Shropshire, and despite its alteration with the construction of modern farm buildings it survives as a significant example of this class of monument. The upstanding and buried remains of the castle buildings, together with historical illustrations, documented accounts of the castle and the records of the archaeological investigation, provide important information contributing to the architectural study of medieval manorial residences. The artefactual and organic remains surviving on the moated island and within the surviving arms of the moat will provide valuable evidence about the various and changing nature of the activities carried out on the site. The archaeological excavation has helped to demonstrate the nature and extent of the structural remains and associated deposits. Organic remains surviving in the buried ground surface under the raised interior and in the moat will also provide information about the changes to the local environment and use of the land before and after the castle was constructed. The importance of the site is further enhanced by the documentary sources which provide ownership information.
SCHEDULING HISTORY Monument included in the Schedule on 14th June 1973 as: COUNTY/NUMBER: Shropshire 16 NAME: Myddle Castle Scheduling amended on 7th July 2000 to: COUNTY/NUMBER: Shropshire 32318 NAME: Myddle Castle immediately south of Castle Farm The reference of this monument is now: NATIONAL MONUMENT NUMBER: 32318 NAME: Myddle Castle immediately south of Castle Farm SCHEDULING AFFIRMED ON 09th May 2001