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Name:Sauvey Castle
HER Ref:MLE2675
Parish:Withcote, Harborough, Leicestershire
Grid Reference:SK 787 052
Map:Coming soon

Monument Types

  • CASTLE (Early Medieval to Late Medieval - 1201 AD to 1400 AD)

Summary

Early C13th castle that had fallen into disrepair by the C14th. The site is close to several confluences of the River Chater, one of which was dammed to form the moat.

Additional Information

Sauvey Castle is mentioned in 1215-20 in relation to a rebellion by Earl of AUMALE (ALBERMARLE) against King John. It is referred to as a castle until 1316, often being granted to the Forester of Leighfield Forest with which it seems to have been connected. On 7/7/1244 timber for a chapel in the Castle of Sauvey, 40' x 22' was granted from the Forest. On 4/1/1245 stone slates from a stable in the castle were granted for the chapel, implying that it was a stone building.

The site is at the confluence of several small tributaries of the River Chater. A dam at the SE corner of the site presumably ponded up the water to form a large 'moat' around the castle which, as in motte and bailey castles, was divided into an inner and outer enclosure separated by a deep ditch. The entrance was presumably at the western end of the 'bailey', and there is a prominent platform at its north-eastern corner and remnants of an inner bank. On the other island (the 'motte equivalent') are at least 2 building sites, one perhaps the chapel.

In 1855 Arthur Spencer donated a medieval spout and a Bellarmine jug fragment showing a lion rampant from the site.


Elkin, Kathleen (ed), 2015, Medieval Leicestershire: Recent Research on the Medieval Archaeology of Leicestershire, p138, "Medieval fortified sites of Leics & Rutland", Richard Knox (Bibliographic reference). SLE5149.


<1> Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society, 1855-present, Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society, Vol 53 (1977-8), p37-38 (Journal). SLE6.

The castle stood on Castle Hill, NGR: SK786052, rather less than a mile SW of Withcote (HER ref.: MLE2679) on the edge of Leicestershire. Cantor notes the presence of an earthwork bank and ditch on Castle Hill, defining the outer defences of the castle. According to Nichols, it was built by Lord Bassett of Weldon. However, he gives no supporting documentary evidence and, Cantor considers, it seems more likely that it was built in 1211 by King John on land he had recently acquired near Withcote. There are various references to the appointment of royal officials as governors of the castle for most of the 13th century, however, by the following century it had fallen into disrepair. Its ruins were scarcely visible in 1622 and by the later 17th century no trace of structures remained.


<2> Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society, 1855-present, Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society, Vol 71 (20), p32-33 (Journal). SLE6.

Taking Sauvey as an example, Creighton stresses the integration of the castle, into the manorial and administrative landscape. Sauvey lies on the edge of the forest of Rutland and functioned as the principal centre for the forest's administration, its purpose as a royal hunting seat dictating its physical isolation, however, it was administratively associated with the manor of Withcote. The manor was granted as an appendage of the castle under the reigns of John and Henry III, but this is reversed by the time of Henry IV (early C15th) indicating the declining importance of the castle. Creighton describes the castle as overlooked from its immediate surroundings, relying on the skilful adaption of water defences for its strength. Two curvilinear banks with an interval gap are not defensive in purpose, but represent a remarkable water mangement feature containing, in effect, a shallow lake which entirely surrounded the island, comparisons are drawn with Ravensworth, N. Yorks. and Bardsey cum Rigton, W Yorks.


<3> Jones, Elaine, 2013, Sauvey Castle, Withcote parish, Leicestershire (SK 788 053) (Unpublished document). SLE4165.

The site was visited in 2013. A stone culvert/drain was noted at SK788052.

Sources

---Bibliographic reference: Elkin, Kathleen (ed). 2015. Medieval Leicestershire: Recent Research on the Medieval Archaeology of Leicestershire. p138, "Medieval fortified sites of Leics & Rutland", Richard Knox.
<1>Journal: Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society. 1855-present. Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society. Vol 53 (1977-8), p37-38.
<2>Journal: Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society. 1855-present. Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society. Vol 71 (20), p32-33.
<3>Unpublished document: Jones, Elaine. 2013. Sauvey Castle, Withcote parish, Leicestershire (SK 788 053).

Associated Finds

  • SHERD (Medieval - 1067 AD to 1539 AD)

Designations

  • Scheduled Monument 17033: SAUVEY CASTLE

Images

Sauvey Castle  © LCC

Sauvey Castle © LCC

Sauvey Castle  © LCC

Sauvey Castle © LCC