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Historic England Research Records

Old Wardour Castle

Hob Uid: 210460
Location :
Wiltshire
Tisbury, Donhead St. Andrew
Grid Ref : ST9386026320
Summary : Old Wardour Castle was built under licence granted in 1393 for the fifth Lord Lovel and is argued by some to have been designed by William Wynford, one of England's finest architects. It was clearly influenced by French designs and was built more with luxury and display in mind than defence. It was remodelled between 1570 and 1678 by Robert Smythson for Sir Matthew Arundell, including renovations to many of the private rooms. The castle consists of a two-floored hexagonal keep, open in the centre, with projecting gatehouse flanked by two towers, which contained the great hall on the first floor. This was set within a curtain wall which enclosed a spacious bailey. The approach to the main keep entrance was guarded by a ditch crossed by a drawbridge, although no remains survive due to 18th century landscaping. The keep contained all of the associated function rooms of the Lord's retinue, and included a private chapel. Following two sieges in the Civil War, during the second of which in March 1644 the south-west side of the keep was largely destroyed, the castle was abandoned. A new house was built immediately to the south of the castle in 1686, which was surrounded by formal gardens using the ruin of Old Wardour as a picturesque centrepiece. In 1754, the Baron Arundel (1717-56) consulted Lancelot Brown (1716-83), who produced a plan for alterations to the estate. Richard Woods (1716-93) was later employed to improve the gardens and park which included plans for a new mansion. This became known as (New) Wardour Castle and was built between 1770 and 1776 to the north-west of Old Wardour Castle. The curtain wall of the outer bailey survives at Old Wardour together with the remains of 17th century stables, an elaborate grotto, a miniature stone circle and a summerhouse (see associated records). In 1934, the sixteenth Baron Arundell started a new planting scheme and repairs to the Castle. In 1936, Old Wardour Castle was placed in the guardianship of the Ministry of Works.
More information : (ST 93862632) Wardour Castle (NR) (remains of). (1)

Old Wardour Castle was built under licence granted in 1393. It is a defensive tower house built round a hexagonal courtyard with two square towers flanking the main entrance. The building contains much 16thc work.

During the Civil War siege of 1643-4 the SE ranges were partially destroyed and the entrance attacked from siege-works on the surrounding high ground to the NE. The siege was also responsible for taking up the park pale and the heads of 12 fishponds (see ST 92 NW 17).

The non-defensive perimeter wall survives together with the remains of 17th century stables, later 18thc grottos and a
summerhouse. The grounds were extensively landscaped during the 18thc when "Wardour Castle" was built in 1768.

The Old Castle is in the guardianship of the D of E. For full description see Authy 5. (2-5)

Old Wardour Castle (name verified) is as described and planned by the D of E.

No traces of the Civil War siege works was found on the ground.

Published survey 25" revised. (6)

Report on a small-scale excavation undertaken in 1983. (7)

Wardour Old Castle, Ancient monument. Late C.14 with Renaissance features. Grade I. (8)

Castle, now in ruins, constructed during the 1390s for the fifth Lord Lovel, remodelled during the 1570s by Robert Smythson for Sir Matthew Arundell. It was partly destroyed during the Civil War and replaced by New Wardour Castle in 1776 when the bailey was laid out as pleasure gardens. Grade I. (9)

The castle consists of a two-floored hexagonal keep, open in the centre, with projecting gatehouse flanked by two towers, which contained the great hall on the first floor. This was set within a curtain wall which enclosed a spacious bailey. Constructed in the last decade of the 14th century, it was one of the most innovative and beautiful castles in England. The approach to the main keep entrance was guarded by a ditch crossed by a drawbridge, although no remains survive due to 18th century landscaping. The keep contained all of the associated function rooms of the Lord's retinue, and included a private chapel. Alterations are known to have been made by Matthew Arundell 1570-8 when he renovated many of the private rooms. Following two sieges in the Civil War, during the second of which in March 1644 the South-West side of the keep was largely destroyed, the castle was abandoned and in the late 18th century the ruins became part of a Romantic landscape of New Wardour. (10-11)

Listed by Cathcart King. (12)

Additional reference. (13)

Old Wardour Castle was built under licence granted in 1393 for the fifth Lord Lovell and is argued by some to have been designed by William Wynford, one of England's finest architects. It was clearly influenced by French designs and was built more with luxury and display in mind than defence. It was remodelled between 1570 and 1678 by Robert Smythson for Sir Matthew Arundell, including renovations to many of the private rooms. The castle consists of a two-floored hexagonal keep, open in the centre, with projecting gatehouse flanked by two towers, which contained the great hall on the first floor. This was set within a curtain wall which enclosed a spacious bailey. The approach to the main keep entrance was guarded by a ditch crossed by a drawbridge, although no remains survive due to 18th century landscaping. The keep contained all of the associated function rooms of the Lord's retinue, and included a private chapel. Following two sieges in the Civil War, during the second of which in March 1644 the south-west side of the keep was largely destroyed, the castle was abandoned. A new house was built immediately to the south of the castle in 1686, which was surrounded by formal gardens using the ruin of Old Wardour as a picturesque centrepiece. In 1754, the Baron Arundel (1717-56) consulted Lancelot Brown (1716-83), who produced a plan for alterations to the estate. Richard Woods (1716-93) was later employed to improve the gardens and park which included plans for a new mansion. This became known as (New) Wardour Castle and was built between 1770 and 1776 to the north-west of Old Wardour Castle. The curtain wall of the outer bailey survives at Old Wardour together with the remains of 17th century stables; an elaborate grotto, a miniature stone circle and a summerhouse (see associated records). In 1934, the sixteenth Baron Arundell started a new planting scheme and repairs to the Castle. In 1936, Old Wardour Castle was placed in the guardianship of the Ministry of Works. (8-11, 14)

Lord Lovell received a ‘licence to crenellate’ which allowed him to build at Wardour. The design and plan of the castle demonstrated his royal connections and his ambitions. After Richard II fell from power John Lovell was able to quietly desert his master for the other side and emerge for a few years of successful uneventful favour under Henry IV before his own death in 1408. John’s wife Maud survived him, their eldest son though died in 1414, only 6 years later and his son William inherited whilst still a minor. William’s interests were concentrated on Minster Lovell, where he rebuilt the family house (1431-1442). The family then entered into the Wars of the Roses and subsequently William’s son John had his lands forfeited when Henry was deposed. Wardour was not returned to him when parts of the estate were regranted. Wardour remained in Crown property and by 1486 it had become property of Thomas Butler Earl of Ormonde. He sold it to Robert 1st Lord Willoughby de Broke. The heir of who sold it to Sir Thomas Arundell (1547). 1552 he had his properties confiscated, including Wardour. Sir Matthew Arundell managed to buy back Wardour in 1570 from the Earl of Pembroke who then held it. He set about modernising the castle with the help of Robert Smythson. His son Thomas was left Wardour after he died in 1639. The Civil war sieges at the Castle. It was surrendered 8 May 1643. It was now in the possession of the Parliamentarians. Then Henry Arundell (3rd Lord) came with a large force to take it. It took three months and two tunnels and explosives to force the surrender of Ludlow. After the Civil War the estates of the Arundell family were confiscated. With the restoration of Charles II Henry recovered most of the estates, but made no attempt to restore the castle at Wardour. Instead existing buildings south of the outer castle wall were fitted up for Henry’s occasional visits. These were enlarged and improved by succeeding generations, to become what is now Old Wardour House.
The 8th Lord Arundell built a completely new Wardour Castle about a mile away, he moved in 1776. James Paine was the architect. The Old castle became a romantic ruin and part of Capability Brown landscape.
The last Lord Arundell (16th) was a captain in the Army during the 2nd World War. He was captured and imprisoned and sent back to Britain in 1944 with Tuberculosis and died soon after. He was unmarried and so the Barony became extinct. In 1936 his father had handed the guardianship of the castle to the state, although retained ownership. Today the grounds and old castle are managed by English Heritage, but are still the property of Lord Talbot of Malahide, who owns the surrounding land. (15)


Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1962
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Source Number : 2
Source : Wiltshire
Source details :
Page(s) : 490
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Source Number : 10
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : 11-Apr-96
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 11
Source : Old Wardour Castle, Wiltshire [guidebook]
Source details :
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Source Number : 12
Source : Castellarium anglicanum : an index and bibliography of the castles in England, Wales and the Islands. Volume II : Norfolk-Yorkshire and the islands
Source details :
Page(s) : 501
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Vol(s) : 2
Source Number : 13
Source : Ordnance Survey guide to castles in Britain
Source details :
Page(s) : 86
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Vol(s) : 1988
Source Number : 14
Source : English Heritage Members' and Visitors' handbook 2008/9
Source details :
Page(s) : 109
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Source Number : 15
Source : Old Wardour Castle
Source details :
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Source Number : 3
Source : The Archaeological Journal
Source details :
Page(s) : 167
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Vol(s) : 104, 1947
Source Number : 4
Source : Some account of English deer parks with notes on the management of deer
Source details :
Page(s) : 103
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Source Number : 5
Source : Old Wardour Castle, Wiltshire [Ministry of Public Building and Works official guidebook]
Source details :
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Source Number : 6
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 PAS 03-OCT-74
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Source Number : 7
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : Mere and Tisbury Rural District, Wiltshire. December 1959.
Page(s) : 97
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Source Number : 7
Source : The Wiltshire archaeological and natural history magazine
Source details :
Page(s) : 223-224
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 80, 1986
Source Number : 8
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : DOE (HHR) District of Salisbury, 06-JUL-1987
Page(s) : 179
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Vol(s) : 1884
Source Number : 9
Source : Register of parks and gardens of special historic interest in England
Source details : Wiltshire
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Vol(s) : Part 46

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Constructed 1393-9
Monument End Date : 1399
Monument Start Date : 1393
Monument Type : Keep And Bailey Castle, Gatehouse, Domestic Chapel, Curtain Wall
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : alterations of 1570s
Monument End Date : 1579
Monument Start Date : 1570
Monument Type : Keep And Bailey Castle
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Partly destroyed in 1643-1644
Monument End Date : 1644
Monument Start Date : 1643
Monument Type : Keep And Bailey Castle, Gatehouse, Domestic Chapel, Curtain Wall
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Georgian
Display Date : AREA LANDSCAPED 1770-1776
Monument End Date : 1776
Monument Start Date : 1770
Monument Type : Keep And Bailey Castle, Curtain Wall
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Mid 20th Century
Display Date : REPAIRED 1934
Monument End Date : 1934
Monument Start Date : 1934
Monument Type : Keep And Bailey Castle
Evidence : Ruined Building, Extant Building

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : WI 243
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 26706
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Wiltshire)
External Cross Reference Number : 454
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 320803
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : EH Property Number
External Cross Reference Number : 298
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Unified Designation System UID
External Cross Reference Number : 1183429
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : ST 92 NW 9
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 1062115
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 210482
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1062111
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1062590
Relationship type :
Associated Monuments : 210485
Relationship type :

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, OLD WARDOUR CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1938-01-01
End Date : 1938-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, OLD WARDOUR CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1962-01-01
End Date : 1962-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, OLD WARDOUR CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1965-01-01
End Date : 1966-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON ST 92 NW 9
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1974-10-03
End Date : 1974-10-03
Associated Activities : Primary, OLD WARDOUR CASTLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1983-01-01
End Date : 1983-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, OLD WARDOUR CASTLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1989-01-01
End Date : 1989-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, OLD WARDOUR CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1990-01-01
End Date : 1990-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, OLD WARDOUR CASTLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1990-01-01
End Date : 1990-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, OLD WARDOUR CASTLE (NEW SHOP)
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1997-01-01
End Date : 1997-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, OLD WARDOUR CASTLE (NEW SHOP)
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2000-01-01
End Date : 2000-12-31