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Historic England Research Records

Kirtling Towers

Hob Uid: 377119
Location :
Cambridgeshire
East Cambridgeshire
Kirtling
Grid Ref : TL6867957437
Summary : A gatehouse of circa 1530, built for Lord North. The adjoining house was built circa 1872, the architect being J.A. Hansom. The buildings are of red brick with black diaper brick patterning and limestone dressings. The roof of the tower is flat and leaded, while the house has steeply pitched slate roofs with a gable parapet to the east. The gatehouse is of three storeys with the main south entrance blocked and the ground floor incorporated into the plan of the 19th century house. The gatehouse has four octagonal corner turrets above an embattled parapet. The two larger turrets are to the south, flanking the original entrance with a four-centred arch infilled with 19th century window. Above is a fine two storey limestone oriel window. The 19th century house has similar detail to the gatehouse and is of two storeys. The house also has a closed, embattled porch. It stands on the site of a 13th century castle and hall, which was built in the 16th century and survived until 1801. Prior to that, the site was occupied by a Saxon fortified house owned by King Harold.
More information : (TL 686575) Kirtling Hall (NR)
(TL 68675744) Kirtling Towers (NAT).(1)

Kirtling Towers. The Gate tower is all that remains of Kirtling Hall built by Lord North in 1554. It is surrounded by a moat three sides of which remained in 1948 enclosing an area 470 ft by 375 ft. The west side was then dry, the north and east containing water to a width of 40-60 ft (see plan). Pevsner gives the date of 1530 for the Gate House. Part of the house was pulled down before 1752 and the rest demolished in 1801. The site was formerly occupied by a fortified house the whole being known as Kirtling Castle in the 13th century.(2-4)

The 16th century gatehouse, at TL 6868 5742, is outstanding and forms an integral part of the modern Kirtling Towers, see ground photographs.

The extant earthworks comprise a central raised platform of maximum height 6.4 m with overall dimensions of 59.0 m E/W and 68.0 m N/S. A large depression with a maximum depth of 2.1 m indicates the cellars of the original hall. A 19th century ice house stands to the north and a heavy scatter of early brick occupies the platform. A major defensive moat surrounds three sides of the hall site to the north, northeast and west but cannot be traced to the south in an area occupied by formal gardens. The external arms hold occasional water and attain a maximum width of 28.0 m and a maximum depth of 3.6 m. An outer counterscarp can be traced in places having a maximum height of 1.5 m. No original inlet is visible but the outlet was probably centred in the eastern arm. No original causeway is evident. Resurvey on 1:2500 AM.

It would seem probable that the defensive earthworks were originally contemporary with the "castle" noted in the 13th century, being later incorporated within the precincts of the 16th century Hall. Certainly their present stature indicates a major defensive role; similarly the construction of the rectangular building platform (even now over 6.0 m high) suggests an original date in the period when a motte was a fairly regular feature of the landscape.(5)

Kirtling Tower (formerly listed as Kirtling Towers), Newmarket Road. Listed as Grade I. Gatehouse c.1530 built for Lord North (c.1496-1564), house rebuilt c.1872, architect J.A. Hansom (1803-1882).(6)

Kirtling Towers, built around 1530. The house itself pulled down c1801. [Further details included]. (7)

Known to occupy the site of a Saxon fortified house owned by King Harold. Formerly scheduled as Cambs No.276, now Scheduled No.13608 1-3.(8)

TL 68675744 site of former house and formal gardens of Kirtling Hall. The site of Kirtling Hall is marked by a substantial platform which tapers toward the south, measuring c35m square on the top, and up to 6m in height. It is situated on a larger 'island' surrounded by a massive moat on its N, W and E sides. The area between the site of the house and the moat displays earthwork evidence of former garden terraces and compartments although their date is uncertain. The size, form and detailing of the moat make it probable that it represents an ornamental creation dating from the 16th century construction of the North's mansion rather than being a defensive moat (as alleged by Authority 5) or an adaptation of an existing moated enclosure. There is no indication that the moat was enclosed by a fourth arm along its south side. Outside the moat, there are numberous earthworks representing possible former ornamental features, including a sequence of elaborate approaches to the site, although the continuity of occupation makes precise interpretation of some of these difficult. Moat-like earthworks to the SE of the site of the former hall possibly represent a predecessor of Place Farm.

The above description is summarised from a detailed level 3 RCHME survey conducted in February 1989. It was recorded at a scale of 1:1000 and the results of the survey have been deposited in the NMR. A second monument was recorded during this survey (TL 65 NE 14) comprising a pond bay which may have been associated with the gardens at Kirtling Hall.(9)

Site of Kirtling Castle and its 16th century successor, of which only the gatehouse remains. Probably also the site of a pre-Conquest fortified house. Kirtling Castle was first recorded in 1219 and the moat is referred to in a document of 1260. The early 15th buildings included a hall, kitchen and chapel and a new hall was built within the moat in 1424. Kirtling Hall was probably begun after 1537. It was reduced in size in 1748 but was little used thereafter and was demolished in 1801. The gatehouse survived and was converted for use as a hunting lodge in the 1830s. The brick wing adjoining it to the east was added in 1872. It subsequently fell into disuse and was restored in the early 1990s. (10)

Listed by Cathcart King. (11)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1960
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Source Number : 2
Source : The Victoria history of the county of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely : volume two
Source details :
Page(s) : 33-4
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Source Number : 11
Source : Castellarium anglicanum : an index and bibliography of the castles in England, Wales and the islands. Volume I : Anglesey - Montgomery
Source details :
Page(s) : 40
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Source : Kirtling Towers/location plan
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Source : Kirtling Towers/ink survey
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Source : Kirtling Towers/pencil survey
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Source : Kirtling Towers
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Source Number : 3
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : Newmarket, JUN-1949
Page(s) : 10
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Source Number : 4
Source : Cambridgeshire
Source details :
Page(s) : 339
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Source Number : 5
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 RSC 01-FEB-78
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Source Number : 6
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : East Cambridgeshire, 25-APR-1984
Page(s) : 51
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Vol(s) : 170
Source Number : 7
Source : The Cambridgeshire landscape : Cambridgeshire and the southern fens
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Source Number : 8
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : 08-Aug-91
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Source Number : 9
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : Wilson-North, R, Feb 1989 RCHME: Kirtling Towers
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Source Number : 10
Source : The Victoria history of the counties of England
Source details : Cambridge and the Isle of Ely
Page(s) : 65-7
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Vol(s) : 10

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Early Medieval
Display Date : Extant circa 1050-1066
Monument End Date : 1066
Monument Start Date : 1050
Monument Type : Fortified House
Evidence : Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Documented in 1219
Monument End Date : 1219
Monument Start Date : 1219
Monument Type : Moat, Castle, Fortified House
Evidence : Documentary Evidence, Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Early C15
Monument End Date : 1432
Monument Start Date : 1400
Monument Type : Hall House, Kitchen, Domestic Chapel
Evidence : Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : 1424
Monument End Date : 1424
Monument Start Date : 1424
Monument Type : Hall House
Evidence : Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Built after 1537
Monument End Date :
Monument Start Date : 1537
Monument Type : House, Gatehouse
Evidence : Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Reduced 1748
Monument End Date : 1748
Monument Start Date : 1748
Monument Type : House
Evidence : Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Demolished 1801
Monument End Date : 1801
Monument Start Date : 1801
Monument Type : House
Evidence : Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Extended 1872
Monument End Date : 1872
Monument Start Date : 1872
Monument Type : Hunting Lodge
Evidence : Documentary Evidence, Extant Building
Monument Period Name : 20th Century
Display Date : Converted early 1830s
Monument End Date : 1832
Monument Start Date : 1830
Monument Type : Hunting Lodge
Evidence : Documentary Evidence, Extant Building
Monument Period Name : 20th Century
Display Date : Restored early 1990s
Monument End Date : 1992
Monument Start Date : 1990
Monument Type : House
Evidence : Documentary Evidence, Extant Building

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : CB 276
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 13608
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : NBR Index Number
External Cross Reference Number : 13855
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 49203
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : TL 65 NE 3
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON TL 65 NE 3
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1978-02-01
End Date : 1978-02-01
Associated Activities : Primary, KIRTLING TOWERS
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 1989-02-05
End Date : 1989-02-19
Associated Activities : Primary, KIRTLING TOWERS
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1991-01-01
End Date : 1991-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, KIRTLING TOWERS MOAT
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1991-01-01
End Date : 1991-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, INVESTIGATION BY RCHME/EH ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Activity type : ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1995-11-14
End Date : 1995-11-14
Associated Activities : Primary, KIRTLING TOWER
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1996-01-01
End Date : 1996-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, KIRTLING TOWERS
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2002-01-01
End Date : 2002-12-31