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Historic England Research Records

Stafford Castle

Hob Uid: 1084378
Location :
Staffordshire
Stafford
Non Civil Parish
Grid Ref : SJ9016022270
Summary : Ruins of a stone tower keep on the motte at Stafford Castle. It was first built in 1348, but slighted/demolished in 1643; it was subsequently partly rebuilt in the early 19th century, but was demolished to first floor level in 1963 to make the building safe. Listed and scheduled.
More information : (SJ 9016 2226). Stafford Castle (In Ruins) on Site of Stafford Castle (GT). (1)

Stafford Castle was built in 1348 by Ralph, Baron Stafford, on an existing motte (SJ 92 SW 2). It was practically demolished by the Roundheads in 1643, and rebuilt in the Gothic style by Jerningham between 1800-15. The medieval castle has five towers, the lower portions of which are believed to be incorporated in the ground-floor walls. (2)

Stafford Castle consists of a large motte and two baileys with the ruins of a 19th-century rebuilding of a 14th-century keep on the summit of the motte. (3)

No change to previous information. Published survey (1:2500) revised. (4)

(SJ 9016 2226). Stafford Castle on site (NAT) Stafford Castle (NR). (5)

Stafford Castle incorporates the remains of a motte and bailey castle. In 1347 Ralph de Stafford made an agreement with John de Burcestre, mason, for the building of a castle upon 'la moete'. In 1348 Ralph was given licence to crenellate his 'dwelling place of Stafford'. He was still paying workmen's wages in 1368. The castle built by Ralph was rectangular in plan, measuring about 120ft by 50ft, with an octagonal tower at each corner and a fifth tower in the centre of the north side. Demolition of the castle in 1643 did not include the foundations or bases of the towers. Early in the 19th century rebuilding was started on the old foundations but the scheme was never completed beyond a suite of rooms at the west end flanked by two towers in the style of Edward III. The structure was abandoned in 1950 having been declared unsafe. (6)

Stafford Castle (NAT) Motte and Baileys (NR). (7)

Excavations in the castle have shown that far more of the medieval fabric survived the 1643-4 demolition than has generally been considered. The NE tower has survived remarkably well and medieval doorways, window settings and a fire-place have been found. (8)

Keep finely sited on a hill west of the county town. Erected circa 1815 by Lord Stafford on the site of a medieval castle. It was never completed and for many years was a crumbling ruin. Only the lower parts now remain - the towers and curtain walls, being considered unsafe, were largely demolished in 1963. Listed Grade II. (9)

SJ 902 222. Stafford Castle is a scheduled ancient monument, number Staffs 44. (10)

Excavations in Area 1 on top of the motte have examined deposits associated with the 14th-century keep. The bottom course of ashlar is on a different alignment and shows signs of wear. It is thought to be either the remains of an earlier structure, or results from an interruption in the 14th-century building programme. (11-12)

SJ 9016 2227 (FCE). A stone tower keep was built on the top of the motte at Stafford Castle in 1348 by Ralph Stafford, later 1st Earl Stafford. Despite the apparently martial aspect, defence was not its main concern, for the motte was both lowered and extended to the east across the ditch between it and the inner bailey in order to increase the area available for building. Even so, the finished tower could not have provided Ralph with the full range of accommodation required for a medieval household and many of the ancillary structures, probably of timber construction, would have had to have been built in the baileys.

As built, it was two-storeyed with five three-storeyed turrets, with battlements over the entire structure. The kitchen and services were on the ground floor, with the principal rooms including the hall and great chamber over, and additional rooms provided in the turrets. The fifth turret was in the south, not north, side (contra authority 6). The tower was probably entered via a door in the north wall. This suggests that the apparently modern track giving vehicular access to the keep up the side of the motte may well be the original 14th-century approach.

In 1806 the medieval ruins were cleared on the order of Sir William Jerningham. In 1813 Edward Jerningham, William's brother, contracted with John Brown, a local mason, to rebuild the keep in Gothic Revival style on the original foundations in order to bolster the family's disputed claim to the Stafford estate and lapsed Stafford baronetcy. However, other documents suggest construction work may have started as early as 1811. The Jerningham's intention was to reconstruct the entire tower with the exception of the fifth turret in the centre of the south front. Financial problems meant that only the eastern quarter of the main range (not west end, contra authority 6) and the north-east and south-east turrets were ever completed. Sir George Jerningham, created Baron Stafford in 1824, occupied the building probably until 1822, after which the property was managed by caretakers. Problems with settlement in the structure occurred as early as 1831. These worsened, and the last caretakers left in 1950.

Surveyed both archaeologically and architecturally by RCHME staff in 1996-7 as part of the RCHME Stafford Castle Survey. See report (13a) and plans in the NMR for more details. (13)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1921-1938
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Source Number : 2
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Trans Old Stafford Soc 1951-2, 10
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Source Number : 11
Source : Medieval archaeology : journal of the Society for Medieval Archaeology
Source details : (SM Youngs et al)
Page(s) : 198-9
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Vol(s) : 29 - 1985
Source Number : 12
Source : West Midlands archaeology
Source details : (C Hill)
Page(s) : 123
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Vol(s) : 27 - 1984
Source Number : 13
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : Marcus Jecock/07-FEB-1997/RCHME: Stafford Castle Survey
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Source Number : 13A
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : RCHME 1997. Stafford Castle, Staffordshire. An Archaeological and Architectural Survey Report
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Source : Stafford Castle/Pencil Survey/1:1000
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Source : Stafford Castle/Ink Survey/1:100
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Source : Stafford Castle/Pencil Survey/1:1000
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Source : Stafford Castle/Ink Survey/1:2500
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Source : Stafford Castle/Pencil Survey/1:2500
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Source : Stafford Castle/Ink Survey/1:1000
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Source Number : 3
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 VJB 24-JAN-1958
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Source : Stafford Castle
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Source Number : 4
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F2 DJC 26-SEP-1974
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Source Number : 5
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1973
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Source Number : 6
Source : A history of the county of Stafford: volume V: East Cuttlestone Hundred
Source details : (LM Midgley and B Donaldson)
Page(s) : 84-6
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Vol(s) : 1959
Source Number : 7
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 1:10000 1981
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Source Number : 8
Source : Medieval archaeology : journal of the Society for Medieval Archaeology
Source details : (C Hill)
Page(s) : 202
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Vol(s) : 25 - 1981
Source Number : 9
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : DOE (HHR) Stafford RD, Jan 1972, 7
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Source Number : 10
Source : County list of Scheduled Ancient Monuments : December 1987
Source details : Eng Heritage SAMs Staffs
Page(s) : 10
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date :
Monument End Date :
Monument Start Date : 1348
Monument Type : Tower Keep
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date :
Monument End Date : 1643
Monument Start Date :
Monument Type : Tower Keep
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Keep rebuilt from 1811
Monument End Date :
Monument Start Date : 1811
Monument Type : Tower Keep
Evidence : Ruined Building

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : ST 44
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 21559
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Staffordshire)
External Cross Reference Number : 59
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 442878
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SJ 92 SW 107
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, STAFFORD CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1978-01-01
End Date : 1991-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, RCHME: STAFFORD CASTLE SURVEY
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 1996-05-29
End Date : 1997-02-07