HeritageGateway - Home
Site Map
Text size: A A A
You are here: Home > > > > Historic England research records Result
Historic England research recordsPrintable version | About Historic England research records

Historic England Research Records

Bolingbroke Castle

Hob Uid: 354204
Location :
Lincolnshire
East Lindsey
Bolingbroke
Grid Ref : TF3493865010
Summary : A castle, built in circa 1220-30, by Ranulf de Blundeville , Earl of Chester and Lincoln (although possibly an earlier castle in some form, perhaps a motte and bailey, may have been in the vicinity on a different site between 1154-1216). The castle was enlarged in the 14th century. It was altered in the 15th and 16th century. The main 15th feature is the octagonal tower on the south-west side of the castle known as the King's Tower. The form of the castle is of an "enclosure" castle, that is to say it comprises curtain walls protected by towers surrounding a courtyard which contained a number of buildings such as a great hall and a range of service buildings. In the case of Bolingbroke Castle these were timber framed. Although the already dillapidated castle withstood a brief seige by parliamentary forces during the Civil War in 1643, it was subsequently slighted, deserted and fell into ruin, now visible only as a series of earthworks and ruins. The main castle was excavated between 1965 and 1973, now open to the public under guardianship. The castle was the birthplace of Henry Bolingbroke, the son of John of Gaunt and later Henry IV, in 1367. The elevations and reveals of the eastern lancet window of the south tower were recorded in March 2000 following the vandalism of an archway in the tower. The work was carried out in order that reconstruction of the arch could take place. To the south of the castle is a rectangular earthwork called the Rout Yard, which has been variously interpreted either as a fishpond, an animal compound, or perhaps more probably a 17th century fort connected with the Civil War activity here. The site is in the care of English Heritage.
More information : [TF 34936500] Castle [G.T.] (Site of); [TF 34946485] Moat [G.T.]; [TF34926492] Moat [G.T.]. (1)

Probably mid 12th century, with Elizabethan additions. Built in a square enclosing about 1 1/2 acres, with four strong forts, probably at the corners, two watchtowers and a strong gatehouse. Birthplace of the son of John of Gaunt and Blanche of Lancaster (afterwards Henry IV) in 1367.

The castle stood siege against the Parliamentarians, who used the earthwork [visible on AO/LP/63/114,115] to the east of the castle in their assault, for a few days in October 1643. It was deserted and fell into ruins after the Royalist defeat at Winceby [see TF 36 NW 4]. Surviving earthworks are the site of the moated keep and traces of the outer ward or Rout Yard. The rectangular enclosure clearly visible within the outer ward is not shown in Norden's map of 1608 [AO/LP/63/210]. Scheduled. (2-7)

The castle mound is heavily overgrown but shows considerable remains of the old superstructure. (See G.P. AO/64/201/7).
The earthwork to the South appears to be an outer defence work of the civil war period. Later construction as an ornamental fishpond cannot be discounted but is hardly compatible with a deserted, ruinous castle, and the very simple, form of fishponds immediately to the East, (See G.P. AO/64/201/6). The assault ditch seems to be the adaptation of an old stream course.
Resurveyed at 1:2500. (8)

During the past four years extensive MOW excavations have, and still are, taking place. The curtain is now completely clear and in the process of renovation. The excavation of the interior has recently commenced but the ministry state that another 3-4 years work is anticipated prior to opening the castle to the public.
See photographs. Resurveyed at 1:2500. (9)

Excavations of Great Hall in 1973, located at NE side of the castle adjoining the gatehouse, dates from 15th century with alterations into 17th century. Although Henry IV had been born at Bolingbroke, the castle was obsolete as a defensive structure by the 16th century. By the time of the Civil War, it was only the moat that provided a defensive function and allowed a royalist `garisson' to defend the castle for a few days. (10-11)

Post-Medieval pottery and metalwork excavation report. (12)

[TF 348 654] Dewey Hill earthwork to N of castle is now ploughed out. 12th century pottery and artefacts from 1965 excavation. (13)

The remains of the castle, assault ditch and moated enclosure described by the previous authorities were seen as earthworks and mapped from good quality air photographs. Stone foundations of the castle are still visible. The assault ditch is 100m long, centred at TF 3505 6505. To the south of the castle is a large earthwork enclosure 180m wide, perhaps some kind of bailey. This has at its centre an enclosure, defined by a ditch and two banks, centred at TF 3495 6485, the "ornamental fish pond" described by authority 8.
(Morph No. LI.125.4.1 - 4.4, 7.1)

This description is based on data from the RCHME MORPH2 database.
(14)

Listed Grade I. (15)

RA Brown notes in a list of castles in England 1154-1216 that a castle is depicted at Bolingbroke on the Mappa Mundi. (16)

Bolingbroke Castle passed by marriage to the House of Lancaster in 1311 and became a royal possession when Henry succeeded to the throne in 1399. (17)

Source 18 is a brief accessible description of Bolingbroke Castle for visitors with a history of the castle and a description of the remains, including a small but useful phase plan. The castle was built in the 1220s by Ranulf de Bliundeville, Earl of Chester and Lincoln. It was altered in the 15th century. The main 15th feature is the octagonal tower on the south-west side of the castle known as the King's Tower, constructed between 1444 and 1456. The form of the castle is of an "enclosure" castle, that is to say it comprises curtain walls protected by towers surrounding a courtyard, which contained a number of buildings such as a great hall and a range of service buildings. In the case of Bolingbroke Castle these were timber framed. To the south of the castle is a rectangular earth work known as the Rout Yard. The function of the earthwork has been variously interpreted as a fishpond, a compound for animals or a 17th century fort. (18)

The Friends of Bolingbroke Castle have a website, which includes a section on the history of the castle and interpretation of the Rout Yard, a section on the Civil War siege, and news and events. (19)


Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1956
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : The gentleman's magazine library
Source details : illust
Page(s) : 306
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 2, 1821
Source Number : 11
Source : The history of the King's Works, volume 3 : 1485-1660 (part 1)
Source details :
Page(s) : 234-7
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 12
Source : Post-medieval archaeology : the journal of the Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology
Source details : (P Drewett)
Page(s) : Jan-33
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 10, 1976
Source Number : 13
Source : The Archaeological Journal
Source details : (M W Thompson)
Page(s) : 314-7
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 131, 1974
Source Number : 14
Source : RCHME/EH/HE Aerial Photographers comment
Source details : Dilwyn Jones/28-JAN-1997/RCHME: Lincolnshire NMP
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 15
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : East Lindsey, 28-OCT-1987
Page(s) : 7
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1509
Source Number : 16
Source : Castles, conquest and charters : collected papers
Source details :
Page(s) : 103
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 17
Source : The history of the King's Works, volume 2 : the Middle Ages
Source details :
Page(s) : 571-2
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 18
Source : Heritage Unlocked: Guide to free sites in the Midlands
Source details :
Page(s) : 28-29
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 19
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : Friends of Bolingbroke Castle 2011 'Bolingbroke Castle' <> [Accessed 15-MAR-2011]
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 3
Source : Associated Architectural Societies' reports and papers [Lincoln, York, Northampton, Bedford, Worcester, Leicester and Sheffield ]
Source details : (F C Massingberd)
Page(s) : 230-46
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1857-8
Source Number : 4
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Mackenzie, J D, 1897, Castles of England
Page(s) : 426-7
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1
Source Number : 5
Source : Medieval England : an aerial survey
Source details : illus
Page(s) : 138-40
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 6
Source : Ancient monuments in England and Wales : a list prepared by the Ministry of Public Building and Works, corrected to 31st December 1963
Source details :
Page(s) : 64
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 7
Source : Aerial photograph
Source details : J K S St Joseph, J E 54, J E 62, Udtd
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 8
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 FRH 24-AUG-64
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 9
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F2 FDC 21-FEB-71
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 10
Source : Medieval archaeology : journal of the Society for Medieval Archaeology
Source details : (P L Drewett and D J Freke)
Page(s) : 163-5
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 18, 1974

Monument Types:
Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Lincolnshire)
External Cross Reference Number : 88
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Lincolnshire)
External Cross Reference Number : 42100
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : LI 88
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 22623
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : MORPH2
External Cross Reference Number : LI.125.4
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : MORPH2
External Cross Reference Number : LI.125.7
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 196127
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : EH Property Number
External Cross Reference Number : 54
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : NBR Index Number
External Cross Reference Number : 108553
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : TF 36 SW 10
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, APS ARCHAEOLOGICAL PROJECT SERVICES
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date :
End Date :
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON TF 36 SW 10
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1964-08-24
End Date : 1964-08-24
Associated Activities : Primary, OLD BOLINGBROKE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1965-01-01
End Date : 1969-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON TF 36 SW 10
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1971-02-21
End Date : 1971-02-21
Associated Activities : Primary, OLD BOLINGBROKE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1973-01-01
End Date : 1973-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, RCHME: LINCOLNSHIRE NMP
Activity type : AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION
Start Date : 1992-07-01
End Date : 1997-03-01
Associated Activities : Primary, MOAT LANE, OLD BOLINGBROKE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2002-01-01
End Date : 2002-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, LAND AT BOLINGBROKE CASTLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2008-01-01
End Date : 2008-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, BOLINGBROKE CASTLE, OLD BOLINGBROKE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2009-01-01
End Date : 2009-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, LAND AT BOLINGBROKE CASTLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2017-01-01
End Date : 2017-12-31