Astley Castle

Description of this historic site

Astley Castle which was originally built during the Medieval period. It is situated in Astley, 100m east of Church Lane.

Notes about this historic site

1 The original fortified manor house was the home of Sir Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk and his daughter Lady Jane Grey. The house was dismantled in 1555, but almost immediately rebuilt. The existing house, still moated, is almost entirely 16th century, but there is evidence of 12th century work. There were substantial alterations in 17th century and again in 1820 when it was restored. The building is roughly rectangular, of 2 storeys, with embattled parapets throughout. The principal front, in which 17th century and 19th century inteference is marked, has 5 large stone transomed-mullioned windows, all restored, 2 of them having arched traceried heads of early 19th century character. On W side is a little timber framing. The interior is wholly modernised and has no early features except for a Jacobean fireplace.
2 There are only scanty remains, in grey and red sandstone, of the original curtain wall and gatehouse. Some portions appear to be 14th century, but may date from 1266, when a grant was made to inclose a house in Astley with a dyke and wall and to crenelate it. The bailey is level and the present house is on its W side with outbuildings lining the W curtain wall
3 There was a manor house here from quite early times; the Astleys lived here from the time of Henry II (1154-89). There is no certainty that a castle was built here in 1266.
4 In 1963 it was a hotel.
5 The hotel has moved out and the house is now abandoned and is falling down.
6 Photograph taken in 1977.
7 Astley Castle and associated features (see PRNs 357, 362 amd 7224) was Scheduled as an Ancient Monument in April 1994.
8 Astley Castle surveyed during 1996, includes plans, photographs and elevations.
9 A substantial amount of archaeological monitoring was carried out during below-ground works associated with the conversion of the standing remains of Astley Castle into accomadation by the Landmark Trust. The report includes substantial information on the historical background of the site, together with detailed reporting on the results of monitoring of work, which recorded substantial medieval and post-medieval remains. The foundations of the fortified medieval manor house were recorded at two locations during the watching brief. Evidence of the late-medieval castle was uncovered in the threshold stone outside the wide four-centred arched doorway located in the north wall of the c.16th century addition to the medieval west range. A similar construction date is attributed to a stone wall outside this range and a further section which appears to have formed a boundary wall on the northwest corner of the 16th/17th century castle above the moat. A stone drain of similar date was observed in the excavation of a service trench across the moat bridge, overlain by a cobblestone surface. The double-barrel vaulted cellars, believed to date to the 1820s, were recorded, together with an earlier smaller cellar. Few finds were recovered from the site, and were mainly residual, redeposited during the successive stages of rebuilding and restoration that the castle has undergone since the mid 13th-century.

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