Beaudesert Castle

Description of this historic site

The site of Beaudesert Castle which dates to the Medieval period. The castle is a large ringworkwith two probable baileys. The ringwork was eventually surrounded by a stone curtain wall and is known to have contained several stone buildings. It is visible as an earthwork and is known from documentary evidence. It is situated 400m east of Henley in Arden.

Notes about this historic site

1 Remains of earthworks on a steep hill called ‘The Mount’, which forms a promontory. The site is by nature strong and commanding. The extant remains consist of a flat-topped oval artificial mound surrounded by a ditch covering about 0.83 ha; a raised bank of earth crossing the ditch to the SW connects this moated ‘keep’ with its accompanying courtyard. 82m from this entrance another ditch runs across the flat top of the hill and possibly divided an outer from an inner courtyard. The defences which formerly encircled these courts have gradually been demolished and the ditches filled.
2 Hardly anything is known of its architectural history. It existed by c1140, but its importance probably declined when the de Montfort estates passed to the Earl of Warwick c1369. An account roll of 1411 mentions repairs to the castle, but there is no mention in 1547, by which time it is presumed to have fallen into ruin.
3 It has been suggested that the earthworks have a prehistoric origin, but this is unlikely. At the E end of the enclosed area children have scrambled up and down the steep sides and some stones and a few fragments of roof tile have been exposed. From this it would appear that the top was surrounded by a stone wall set some 1.8 to 2.6m back from the present edge. In three places there are slight circular depressions about 3m across, possibly the sites of towers, and another larger depression well within the enclosure could be the site of an isolated tower or keep. A further detailed account of the earthworks is given. It was probably erected by Thurstane de Montfort and was also occupied by Peter de Montfort.
4 A castle mound with a double bailey to the SW. The ditch between the two baileys has been mutilated by the insertion of a buried observation post. Access to the castle was by a terraced way from the S into the inner court through an inturned entrance.
6 Scheduled as Warwickshire Monument No. 52.
7 In 1840 a piece of 13th century or 14th century moulded capital was found.
10 The scheduled area around the castle has now been revised and extended as SM 21510.
11 The Manor of Beaudesert and Henley in Arden were held by the Montfort family in the twelfth, thirteenth and into the fourteenth centuries. In the late fourteenth century, the manors passed to the Beauchamp family. In 1410, part of the manor of Beaudesert, and the borough of Henley in Arden, were joined to form one manor which passed to the Botleler family. The Vill of Henley in Arden appears to have developed as the trading centre for Beaudesert; Henley in Arden is less than one mile west of Beaudesert. Market Charter granted for Sundays mercartum in 1141 by Empress Matilda to Turstin de Mont[fort]. Charter for Monday Market granted 10th Feb 1227 by Henry III to Peter de Montfort. This market seems to have succeeded the one at Henley in Arden but seems to have migrated back there by 1232.
Fair charter granted for vigil feast morrow Giles (1 Sept) 10th Feb 1227 to as previous
11 Markets as described in 1 Charter for Fair vigil feast morrow Giles (1st September) granted 10th February 1227 by Henry III to Peter de Montfort. To be held at the manor. Sheriff of Warwickshire ordered to proclaim the fair and cause it to be established 14th February 1227. The market and fair apparently suceeded ones in Henley in Arden and the market seems to have migrated back there by 1232.
12 Correspondence from 1964.
13 Correspondence from 1989.
14 Correspondence from 1996-98 from the owners of the freehold of the site.
15 Letter from 1991.
16 Geophysical survey carried out at Beaudesert castle as part of a Time Team programme. The results were mixed, with only robbed-out walling encountered on the motte. Survey across the Bailey was affected by the high bedrock across these survey areas.
17 A series of 8 evaluation trenches were excavated and recorded over the course of 3 days by The Time Team, within the motte and bailey of Beaudesert. Evidence of the constructional sequence of the castle was recorded, through to its dismantling in the 16th century. Analytical earthwork survey also recorded a single bailey, rather than the two as had previously been supposed.

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