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HER No.:360
Type of Record:Building


The remains of a fifteenth century manor house with gatehouse, chapel and 16th to 17th century formal gardens. The name is derived from William de Someries, whose residence was on the site in the 13th century; its exact location is not known. The surviving earthworks were at one time thought to be the remains of a 13th century moated site but are now known to be the formal garden. The estate was acquired by Lord Wenlock in the 1430s and built the house, gatehouse and chapel. After his death the estate passed to Thomas Rotheram, Bishop of Lincoln and later Archbishop of York. The house was never finished, though an inventory (now lost) of 1606 lists 20 rooms in use, including a smith's workshop. A document of 1616 records "the great dovehouse" and the Hearth Tax returns for 1671 record 23 hearths or chimneys. Much of the building was demolished in 1742.

The upstanding remains include the gatehouse and chapel which formed the north west wing of the magnate's residence. The walls survive to almost full height (approx 10m). The gatehouse has two semi-octagonal bastions either side of the entrance passage, which would have led into an enclosed courtyard. The chapel measures 16m by 5m and has a large perpendicular window opening in the gable. The area of the main residence is defined by a raised platform containing low, irregular earthworks to the north east of the garden earthworks. In the north east corner of the site, traces of a substantial brick wall can be seen.

The formal garden remains are represented by a rectangular earthwork measuring up to 100m long by 80m wide. A square mound, 40m by 40m, is placed centrally in the earthwork and stands approx 1m above the surrounding area. A slight bank forms a border aroung the edge of the mound, and the mound is quartered by two 2.5m wide raised walkways which indicate the positions of ornamental flowerbeds. The borders and paths are less than 0.2m high. The area around the mound is level and extends approx 18m to the north east and south west, and 8m to the north west and south east. The level area is surrounded by a flat-topped bank averaging 6m wide, widest at the corners and the north east side. The top of the bank is approx 1m above the internal level area and 1.5m above the base of an external ditch. The ditch is approx 4m wide, apart from along the north eastern arm where it is up to 8m wide. A further low bank runs around the outside edge of the ditch, approx 3m wide and 0.3-0.4m high. In the north west side is a 10m wide ramped causeway leading into the garden. The north east side of the earthworks faces the site of the house, thus are larger and more impressive.

A small excavation in 1969 examined the earthworks, and found a band of stones lining the bottom of the ditch. Pottery of 13th to 16th century date was recovered.

Grid Reference:TL 119 201
Map:Show location on Streetmap

Full Description

<1> J. Nicholls, 1780-1797, Biblioteca Topographica Britannica, p. 54; p. 53 (2nd numbering sequence) (Bibliographic reference). SBD10922.

"Lord Wennelok left….a faire place within the paroche of Luton caulled Somerys, the which house was sumptuously begun by Lord Wennelock, but not finished. The garehouse of brike, a very large & faire parte of the residew of the new foundations be yet seene, & part of the olde place standeth yet." (leland's Itinerary VI, 66)

A stately mansion-house was begun in reign of Edward IV. The partico, all that was finished, now remains compleat in a wood near Luton. It is one of the most beautiful specimens in brick of the florid Gothic that I remember.

2 miles NE of Luton Hoo is village of Sommeris where, as Leland informs us, Lord Wenlock had begun sumptuously a house, but never finished it; that the gatehouse of brick was very fair & large. The gateway & part of a tower are yet to be seen. In the last are 14 or 15 brick steps. There was originally a hole, or rather pipe, which conveyed the lowest whisper from bottom to top. Part of this, & of the other building, was pulled down by Sir John Napier c 40 years ago.

<2> Ordnance Survey, Ordnance Survey Archaeology Record Cards, OS: TL 12 SW 6 (Unpublished document). SBD10879.

[TL 11902011] Someries Castle [AT]
[TL 11932019] Chapel [AT]. (Ordnance Survey 6" 1960)

A 13th C. moated site formed the home of William de Someries; it is described as a central mound 110ft. square surrounded by a lower area about 55ft. wide on the N.E. and S.W. sides but much less on the other two sides. It is surrounded by a bank with an entry gap on the N.E. side; outside the bank is a ditch on the S.W. and S.E. sides. The earthwork seems to have been levelled at some time, for the mounds and the banks are very low, having a depth from the top of the central mound to the ditch of 3ft. only. This was followed by a 15th C. brick manor house referred to by Leland as 'Somerys' (3), of which only the ruins of the chapel and gate-house survived the demolition of 1742. (Bedfordshire archaeological journal, Vol 3, 1966, pp35, 51; The Iternary Pt 8 fo 66 (John Leland) )

The chapel and gatehouse at TL 11922019 are in good condition and stand to their full height though roofless. There are no other remains of the 15th.c. brick manor house but some reused material is incorporated in 19th.c. farm buildings to the north.
The moated site to the south-east is generally as described by Smith. It is in good condition and probably differs little from its original form. The entrance, in the middle of the north-east side, is a simple gap in the bank with a corresponding causeway over the outer ditch. At three of the four corners of the bank there appears to be a small projection into the moat, these may represent the former existence of corner turrets but no building debris was seen. Surmounting the edge of the central mound are traces of a bank and traces of banks dividing the central mound into quarters are evident. (First Ordnance Survey Archaeology Field Investigator 12/05/1969)
Resurveyed at 1/2500.

<3> Bedfordshire Archaeological Council, 1966, Bedfordshire Archaeological Journal, Volume III, Vol. 3, 1966, pp. 35-51 (Article in serial). SBD14113.

Very detailed description of the remains of the buildings and discussion on the phasings.

<4> Bedfordshire Archaeological Council, 1970, Bedfordshire Archaeological Journal, Volume 5, Vol. 5, 1970, pp. 109-112 (Article in serial). SBD14115.

Partially excavated by Smith in 1969. Sherds of 13th century domestic pottery were found in all layers of the inner mound and inner ditch indicating occupation at that date, but Smith now considers that the moat is probably 14th century. 16th and 17th century sherds were also found.

<5> Bedfordshire Magazine, Vol. 5, 1955-1957, pp. 157-162 (Serial). SBD10543.

'A fair place within the Parish of Luton called Somerys, the which house was sumptuously begun by the lord Wenlock but not finished. The Gate House of Brick is very large and fair. Part of the residue of the Foundations be yet seen and part of the Old Palace standeth yet. It is set on a Hill not far from St. Anne's Hill.' So wrote Leland, Henry the Eight's antiquary, some eighty years after Lord Wnlock's death. It is the ruin of this mansion which is popularly known today as Someries Castle - a misnomer , for the true castle stood on the square mound in the field to the west of the present ruin.
A glance at the Norman earthwork makes it obvious why the later mansion has usurped its name, for although the earlier construction is of considerable size its mound was of very moderate height. Indeed, it is so slight as to suggest that the fotifications were partially levelled when the mansion was built. The central mound, 110 ft square, is surrounded by a ditch about 55ft wide. Originally a second ditch surrounded it, and can still be traced on two sides. On the central mound must have stood the keep where the lords of the Manor lived before the rpesent mansion was begun. Whether this original building was of wood or stone can only be determined by excavation, but if Leland's remark that 'part of the Old Place standeth yet' referes, as seems probable, to a building on the moated site, it must have been of stone. It is surprising that traces of its material have not survived in the later mansion, for mediaeval builders would have shown few antiquarian scruples in using the older building as a quarry for the new one. In a field to the south of the earthwork can be seen the mounds and hollows which mark the site of what was probably a village associated with the castle in its early days.
The older castle was owned by the family of de Somery of Dudley Castle who gave it their name, and although they were probably absentee landlords the name that has persisted. The Luton manor probably came into their possession at the end of the twelfth century. By 1297 it as held by Agnes, widow of Roger de Somery. She was succeeded by her son John and on his death in 1321 it passed to his sister Margaret, wife of John de Sutton of Dudley. In 1380 Margaret consveyed the property through her trustees to John de Sutton, her grandson. From the Suttons it ultimately passed to John Lord Wenlock, who purchased it from John Aylesbury of Edeston in 1461. Even then Wenlock owned nearly half the manor of Luton.
By Wenlock's time the old maoted castle must have been at least two hundred years old and probably below the standard required for a family home. According to William Austin, the Luton historian, Lord Wenlock began the building of a new mansion on the same site in 1464. Since the introduction of the cannon had made obsolete the former massive fortifications of castles, the accent in domestic architecture was changing in favour of the provision of comfortable dwelling-houses, and the new Someries was in the forefront of fashion. But Wenlock, if he was in fact the builder, did not live to to complete it. After several changes of allegiance during the Wars of the Roses he was killed at the Battle of Tewkesbury on the losing side, and as a traitor forefeited his estates to the crown. They were granted to Thomas Rotherham, Bishop of York, one of the most brilliant men of his age, and passed on his death to his nephew Thomas Rotherham, who was already residing at Someries.
We can get little impression of the mansion as it was planned. It was built around a central courtyard, and the present ruin, the gatehouse and chapel, was only a portion of the north wing. An indication of the original size of Someries is given by Davis in his History of Luton from an inventory then in his possession but since lost. The inventory, dated 1606, listed, among other things, the room sin use: 'Dayry, boultry house, farm house, Queen's chamber, inner chamber, Le Grayes chamber, great chamber, clocl chamber, children's chamber, maydes' chamber, inner chamber next the maydes' chamber, Miss Elizabeth her chamber, Mr Cheynes his chamber, chamber next the Cheyneys, great parlour, little parlour, hall, smyths' chamber, wells' chamber, cooke boys' chamber, kitchen, buttery.'

The gatehouse, which faces north, has a central passage some twenty feet long which was originally vaulted in brick. From it open two large rooms, both of the same shape and size, but the one to the west of the entrance had a passage built into it which appears to have been entered through a door in the entrance passage and to have commanded the entry by a small window. A small cupboard was built into the wall next to the fireplace, and the room was divided by a wall, the section in the 'bay' being used as a garde-robe. The eastern room, too, seems to have been divided by a wall, most of which has now fallen. Both rooms had large windows viewing the central court, and fireplaces in the walls opposite to the passage; the fireplace in the eastern room is now broken and forms a convenient entrance to the chapel. To the west of these rooms is a spiral staircase of brick carried on a brick vault, with a central newel and radiating steps. A handrail was built into the wall, which still retains some of its original plaster.

The chapel, 34ft long and 18ft wide, has a vestibule at its western end continuing some 15ft, which was originally separated by a thin wall and doubtless carried a gallery over. The chapel entrance was in the south wall, apparently from a wing, now destroyed, forming the east side of the court. The east wall still stands to its full height and contains a window originally of four lights but with the brick tracery now fallen. At the south-east corner was a window of three lights. High in the wall on either side of the east window are two image niches. Between the east wall and the south-east window is a piscina with a stone drain. In the north wall are two blocked windows, the heads at equal height though the sill of the eastern one is at a much higher level than the other. Between the chapel entrance and the south-east window is a squint set at an angle to command the site of the altar from a room in the now destroyed east wing. Just inside the vestibule was a recess for holy water.
Several indications suggest that the chapel was built after the gate-house and that the plan of the hosue was changed in the short interval. The strongest evidence is the jamb of a blocked opening just beyond the recess in the chapel vestibule, a square-headed window now taking the place of whatever opening was once there. It is of significance that this opening and the staircase are equidistant from the entrance passage. Again, the lower six feet of the chapel wall are built in a different type of brick, and there is a joint in the wall a little to the east of the eastern turret of the gatehouse.

Over the gatehouse was a second storey; it opened on to a gallery built out over the courtyard, which was reached by means of the spiral staircase. Although the only remains of this storey are the doorways leading from the stairs to the gallery and from the gallery to the room over the western turret of the gatehouse, some eighteenth-century prints give us several other facts. It seems there were three rooms over the gatehouse, each with shallowly vaulted ceilings. From the western most chamber a door led to a room between the staircase and the outer wall. Another door from the eastern room led into the gallery of the chapel vestibule. The roof was flat and seems to have been crenellated. Whether or not the staircase rose above the general level of the roof as a tower is a matter of conjecture.

In recent years doubts have been raised as to whether Wenlock really built the gatehouse and chapel, in spite of Leland's statement which has been accepted without question by all subsequent writers. The late Mr F. G. Gurney, who did much research into the history of the Rotherham family, states in unpublished notes (at present in the possession of Mr C.E. Freeman) that it was undoubtedly the work of Archbishop Rotherham. He points out that Wenlock is not known as a builder in brick; that the style of the place is not early enough for his younger days and in later years, when he was always in the thick of the Wars of the Roses, he would have had little or no time for building, and might easily have contended himself with the old castle. Rotherham, on the other hand, was a notable bilder in brick. He made Rotherham College in brick ('as red as Rotherham College') and he built Buckden tower in brick. Furthermore, his gatehouse at Rotherham College has a very similar plan to that of Someries, which in style corresponds to Rotherham's period. It was 6 yds long by 4yds broad, roofed with lead, with 'two little turrets', had a chapel to the east of it with a crested lead roof, 18 yds long by 5yds broad, and 'on the west side of the gatehouse a chamber with similar roof to the chapel'. The incidence of a small chapel in the same position in both gatehouses is most unlikely to be an accidental resemblance.

Someries Castle was important as one of the first post-Roman buildings in Britain to be built of bricks. These bricks range five courses to the foot and have an average size of 9 x 4 x 2 inches. Dotted among them, apparently at random, are darker, vitrified bricks, which over the inner arch of the gateway form a lozenge-shaped design. That the builders fully appreciated the capabilities of their material is shown by the moulded brick ornamentation which occurs as a cinquefoiled arcade ove rthe gateway and as corbelling in the angle between the gateway and the western turret. The only use of stone now apparent is in the facings of the entry arches and in some of the doorways. The present ruinous state of the building is largely explained by the fact that the outbuildings of the adjacent farm, and to a lesser extent the farm itself, are built of bricks from the castle.

All ancient building are reputed to have a secret tunnel, and Someries is no exception. Davis goes so far as to give the exact location of its entrance: 'from the foot of the stairs [i.e. the spiral staircase to the west of the gatehouse] is a subterraneous passage, which is now blocked up.' It seems more probably that any opening there may have been would lead to the cellars that one might expect to find under the gatehouse. The most popular story is that the tunnel runs from Luton parish church to Someries and tehnce to St Alban's Abbey, but is is also said to run to the mansion at Luton Hoo, and to a disused well in a nearby field. This well, which is of considerable depth, probably predates the later mansion, and the story is that the two were linked in order that water might be ontained during a siege. Davis states that Someries is supposed to have been destroyed by Oliver Cromwell in the Civil Wars, a supposition for which there is no basis.
In 1605 Someries was visited by King James I when he stayed with Sir John Rotherham. The mansion continued in the Rotherham family until 1692, when it was sold to the ancient Luton family of Crawley. The house remained the residence of this family until 1712 when Richard Crawley, who as Registrar of the Admiralty had to live in or near London, left Luton. The mansion was tehn shut up and, in William Austin's words, 'was left to the bats and the owls, and rapidlyassumed all the picturesque discomforts of an interesting ruin.' When Richard Crawley died his son John was still a minor, but in 1724, shortly after his coming-of-age, he sold the old house to Sir Robert Napier.
According to Thomas Pennant, Sir John Napier pulled down a great portion of the 'house at Someries' about 1742. Austin believed that the house referred to was the 'Tower' on St Anne's Hill and not Someries Castle. Certainly the two were often confused and some eighteenth-century prints of Someries are labelled 'The Tower, Luton'; but it would seem most probable that man aided nature in the destruction of Someries mansion, since prints made in 1780, only seventy years after its abandonment, show it almost as ruinous as it is today. Furthermore, none of the prints show any signs of the living rooms which we know had once existed. It is unlikely that the ravages of time have totally destroyed them in less than a century, when the gatehouse and chapel have resisted for nearly two hundred and fifty years.

<6> Bedfordshire Magazine, Vol. 9, 1963-1965, pp. 38, 259 (Serial). SBD10543.

Someries Castle - tidying up, now in progress. Being carried out by local young men and boys, under the general supervision of Mr Dereck Smith. The fifteenth century gatehouse and chapel, which stand a few yards east of the earlier thirteenth century castle earthworks, had become a rubbish dump and are now much overgrown. Leland described Someries as 'A fair place within the parish of Luton….'
As well as clearing the site, opportunity is being taken to make drawings of the castle (not attempted since The Building News published its drawings in 1875). Possible to correct plan based on Austin's plan of 1928. Surprising how much has fallen or been damaged since that date.

P. 259 Illustration - 18th century print of Someries Castle showing ruined gatehouse.

<7> Bedfordshire Magazine, Vol. 11, No. 88, 1967-1969, pp. 344-347 (Serial). SBD10543.

p.345 Illustration - ink-and-wash sketch of Someries Castle.

Prints of Someries Castle by Thomas Fisher, 1812; Taylor 1790; Sparrow, 1787. [history derived from 'History of Luton' by Davis]. Castle now surrounded by rusting iron fence, and beset with head-high nettles. Rubble piled in untidy heaps, ivy on the remaining red brick walls. Narrow bricks, five courses to the front. Gatehouse with rooms and garderobe. Chapel-east wall stands to its full height, wall contains a high window of brick tracery with four lights. Bottom five feet of chapel of different type of brick. Spiral staircase, cellars. Earthworks of earlier castle and village. One of first brick-built buildings in England but now neglected.

<8> Journal of the British Archaeological Association, Vol. 129, 1976, pp. 42-58 (Bibliographic reference). SBD10927.

Detailed description of the building, with plans.

<9> DoE list, unspecified, 7/20 (Index). SBD11111.

Grade I listed building c.1448. Red brick unroofed walls of gateway, chapel and hall. Semi-octagonal towers flank gateway. 4 centred archways and windows. Poor condition - small [?] growing from tops of wall. Ancient Mon. NBR

<10> Stephen R. Coleman, Comments, August 1983 (Observations and Comments). SBD10779.

This building apparently no longer has listed building status. It is not included in the List for South Bedfordshire dated 26th September 1980.

<11> Bedfordshire & Luton Archives and Records Service Documents, BLARS: AT & MAT 30/1, Tithe Award and Map, 1842 (Unpublished document). SBD10551.

Buildings marked at TL 1196 2020 named as Old Castle.

<12> National Monuments Record, NMR Photographs (Photograph). SBD10708.

Colour images sent to the NMR

<13> Hunting Surveys, 1968, Hunting Aerial Photos 1968, 12/5896 (Aerial Photograph). SBD10637.

Visible on aerial photo

<14> Hunting Surveys, 1974, Hunting Aerial Photos 1974, 12/2511 (Aerial Photograph). SBD10649.

Visible on aerial photo

<15> Hunting Surveys, 1976, Hunting Aerial Photos 1976, 9/2183 (Aerial Photograph). SBD10652.

Visible on aerial photo

<16> Royal Archaeological Institute, Archaeological Journal, Vol. 139, 1983, pp. 43-46 (Article in serial). SBD10785.

A 'faire place withing the paroche of Luton callyd Somerys,' is how John Leland described Someries Castle in the mid-sixteenth century; and he continued:
The….howse was sumptuously begon by the Lord Wennelok, but not finisched. The gate howse of brike is very large and faire. Parte of the residew of the new foundations be yet seene, and part of the olde place standith yet.

The last clause presumably refers to the earlier house on the site. This was surrounded by a (dry?) moat, the earthworks of which remain in the field adjacent to the brick ruins. The reclinearity of this earthwork may indicate a fairly late date; and small sherds of poor domestic ware of thirteenth-century date, together with one of fourteenth-century date, were found in 1969. The earliest documented reference to Someries is in 1309 when an inquisition post mortem records that the manor passed from Agnes, wife of Roger de Somery of Dudley Castle, to her son John. There are a few other referenes through the fourteenth century, but after 1390 the descent of the manor is lost sight of until 1438 when John Lord Wenlock is described as 'of Somerys'.
There is no reason to doubt Leland's statement that Wenlock began the brick building at Someries. Frederick Davis, Luton's first historian, wrote in 1855 that it dates from c.1448; Davis had access to documents , many of which were later destroyed (ex inf. D.H. Kennett), and this date is likely to be well founded. Certainly it fits exactly the archaeological evidence, assembled on the basis of a comparison with Rye House, Herts., firmly dated to c.1443, and Faulkbourne Hall, Essex, of about the same time. It is interesting that in the same year, 1448, Wenlock laid the foundation stone of the brick-built Queen's College, Cambridge. Neither is there reason to doubt Leland's statement that the buildings were 'not finisched', and his reference to the 'new foundations' provides a gloss on this assertion. Today only the gatehouse and adjoining chapel remain, although certainly more than this was built; and inventory (now lost, but seen by Davis) of 1606 listed twenty-one rooms plus associated farm buildings. IN 1616 'the great dovehouse, standing within the great yard at Someries' is mentioned, whilst the Hearth Tax Returns for 1671 record twenty-three hearths (or perhaps chimneys, if the assessors judged only from the exterior), amking the house one of the largest in the county. It is further recorded that in 1742 Sir John Napier, who had inherited it in 1724, demolished a great deal of 'the House at Someries'; some of the reused bricks may be seen in the nearby eighteenth-century farmhouse.
The archaeological evidence points clearly to two phases of building, the first comprising the gatehouse, and the second comprising the chapel and its vestibule. The evidence consists in straight joints at the junction of the two phases, a change in the quality fo the bricks, and a change too in the style of the building, the chapel being generally simpler in conception than the gatehouse. The most likely occasion for the break in work would seem to be Wenlock's attainder for treason in 1459. In August 1460 the attainder was anulled and it was probably was anulled and it was probably between that time and Wenlock's death in 1471 that the work on the chapel proceeded. The difference in style presumably reflects the fact that the original craftsmen were no longer available, or perhaps that they were unwilling to risk further connexion with the notoriously turncoat Wenlock. Although Archbishop Thomas Rotherham inherited the estate after Wenlock's death, and although Rotherham himself a notable builder in brick, there is no good reason to ascribe the chapel to his time; Leland does not do so, although he mentioned Rotherham as inheritor.
Interest naturally focuses on the early brickwork of the surviving remains, which have recently been beautifully restored by the Bedfordshire County Council. Earlier brick building in England are known, but Someries belongs to that period - beginning perhaps with Shirburn CAStle, Oxon of c.1377 and at any rate under way by the time of Caister Castle, Norfolk in the 1430s - when brick became a prestige material for those men of substance who could afford to use it. Recent study has connected Someries with Rye House and Faulkbourne Hall and also with Nether Hall, Roydon, Essex, all of which were probably the work of a single atelier of craftsmen based somewhere in the Essex-Hertfordhsire area and working in the middle years of the fifteenth century.
We have Someries, sedpite the word 'Castle', the remnant of a prestige house, of no military value but rather designed to impress. The entrance arch is flanked by two massive part-octagonal turrets, the eastern one having a large window at ground-floor level. The arch itself is of sotne, as is that of the smaller pedestrian entrance contrived in the western turret. Elsewhere in the building stone is rarely used, apertures and other features being carried out in moulded brick. This was one, though not the dominant, tradition of English medieval brick building, the other reserving brick for the main fabric but using stone for the dressings. One of the finest uses of moulded brick at Someries occurs above the pedestrian archway, with a curved profile reminiscent of the oriel windows at Rye House. Above it, though badly damaged, is a corbel-table of trefoiled archlets of a not uncommon design. Over the main archawy, on the other hand, is a corbel-table of cinquefoiled archlets with trefoil piercings in the spandrels; this is most unusual but can be paralleled at Rye House and Faulbourne Hall, whilst debased forms (attempted copies?) appear at Rickmansworth Rectory and at Meesden Church porch, both in Hertfordshire. The entrance passageway was originally vaulted. The predestrian passageway curved round to enter the main passageway. A garderobe was situated in the western turret.
At the south-west angle of the gatehouse are the remains of a newel stairway entirely constructed from brick. These were always rare, the earliest example probably being that in the Cow Tower (c. 1398-99) in the Norwich defences. Others, of comparable date to Someries, occur at the Moot Hall, Maldon, Essex, and, significantly, at Rye House and Faulkbourne Hall, although there are later fifteenth-century examples, as at Hatfield Old Palace, Herts., Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk, Kiby Muxloe Castle, Leics., and Wainfleet School, Lincs. They showed off the skill of the builders to magnificent effect, but were unquestionably very expensive. The usual alternative was stone steps, although wooden ones were built at Warden Abbey, Beds., and Madingley Hall, Cambs., in the sixteenth century. In most examples, including Someries, the steps are carried on the back of a spiralling barrel-vault, made up of 'plough-share' forms, in distinction froma smaller Lincolnshire group in which the steps are carried on the backs of radiating arches. At Someries too there is a spiralling handhold - occasionally still absurdly described as a whispering-pipe!
Diaper-work in black (or occasionally green) bricks was common at the time, but as Someries was limited to a pair of lozenges enclosing a saltire-cross, a design which can be matched exactly at Rye House and at Queen's College, Cambridge. More elaborate designs were already achieved at Tattershall Castle, Lincs (c. 1434 onwards), at Bardney Church, Lincs (c. 1435), and at Herstmonceux Castle, Sussex (c. 1441-46), but the full flowering of diaper work was to come somewhat later, in the 1470s and 1480s. Oddly, the pattern at Someries would have been obscured by the wooden gallery or pentice which ran across the rear of the gatehouse at first-floor level, where the design occurs.
The conception of the Phase II chapel, as stated, is simpler. There is less abundance of moulded brickwork, although a corbel-table was created over the east window, and a series of scutiform corbels runs around the inside. L. W. Goodwin's nineteenth-century drawing shows a pair of archlets in the piscina, which is now badly damaged. A squint looked into the chapel from an adjoining range, the bonding-scars of which are clearly visible. A stoup was also provided but in an awkward position. There is clear evidence indeed for a change of design here, for on the 'correct' side of the stoup is the original blocked doorway, now within the former chapel vestibule, which had a gallery above. The brickwork of the replacement doorway shows that the alteration in design took place during primary building operations: it is not a later change. The partial blocking of the windows high in the nroth wall, on the other hand, is a secondary feature.
A hollow in an adjacent field, to the south-east, may represent the original brickpit. There is no documentary evidence for the source of the Someries bricks, but local manufacture seems probable. The old mythology of large-scale importation of bricks during the fifteenth century still finds its way into some elementary textbooks; but the evidence contra has been available for a long time now. It si up to those who urge imporatation to prove it in individual cases. (Davis 1855; Fowler 1889; Manning 1956; Roskell 1957; Smith 1966b; Smith 1970; Smith 1975; Smith 1976).

<17> William Page & H. Arthur Doubleday (Editors), 1904, Victoria County History Vol I, Bedfordshire, Vol. I, 1904, p. 305 (Bibliographic reference). SBD10574.

Homestead Moats: Among later works on lower ground….castle sites at Someries & Easton Bray…..C15 brick building swith considerable remains of quadrangular moats.

<18> English Heritage, SAM Record Form, No. 20458 (Scheduling record). SBD10803.

Moated Site: the site lies on a plateau of high ground, some 500m S of Luton Airport, and consists of a moated enclosure, and to the NE the Castle ruins. The house, first of the de Someries, and then the Wenlocks was built in the middle or late C15 by Lord Wenlock, or his successor at Someries, Bishop Rotherham of Lincoln (of Buckden, Hunts); what remains in brick is the gatehouse, to its E the chapel, and to its N some more brick walling. The building is the earliest in the County to use brick. {1} {2}.
Moated Site. Lying to SE of the ruined buildings is a moated site, consisting of a wide shallow dry ditch some 8m wide to E and W and 20m wide to N and S enclosing an interior platform some 38m x 35m rising to some 1m above the ditch bottom. The whole surrounded by an outer bank and ditch, the bank standing to some 1m in height. The entrance appears to be to NE. The whole is under pasture with hawthorn and mature ash in the outer ditch. The area is in good condition with little sign of animal disturbance. {1}
Notice needs repainting at entrance to site. Footings noted in field N of building. Several mature trees appear to be dying off. Scrub and brambles are encroaching in NE corner. Under grass with one patch of nettles and a little more disturbance. Cattle poaching minimal. {3}

Gatehouse: has bold and broad polygonal projections and to the right of the carriage entrance, a pedestrian doorway which, however, leads intot he main gateway, i.e. has no separate exit into the former courtyard. In the extension to the E is a spiral stair with a sunk handrail. {1}
The ruins are on the whole well consolidated. There is a small amount of fallen brick and stone, and a little weed growing from the fabric. Nettles are encroaching to the N. Gravel has been laid down in the interior and surrounds, and the monument is fenced. {2}
Some spalling of brickwork noted in some areas with masonry lying on floor. This is not severe. Weed noted on wall tops. {3}

Chapel: E window was of four lights, and had a segmental arch. There was a S chapel or chamber; for the squint from it towards the altar remains. {1}
The ruins are on the whole well consolidated. There is a small amount of fallen brick and stone, and a little weed growing from the fabric. Gravel has been laid down in the interior and on the surrounds, and the monument is fenced. {2}
Some spalling of brickwork in certain area with masonry lying on the floor. This is not severe. Weed noted on wall tops, and thick nettle growth against N facing wall. Crack seen in E wall. {3}

<19> HER plans, Plan, 1:500 (Plan). SBD10881.

Plan, 1:500 (in plan tank)

<20> Air Photo Services Ltd, 2006, Land South of Luton Airport: Interpretation of Aerial Photographs for Archaeology., Report 0423, pp. 12-13, Figure 3, re. areas of archaeological interest AP 2 and AP 3. (Archaeological Report). SBD12526.

AP 2 (TL 118 201)
Someries Castle consists of a series of earthen banked enclosures and ditches typical of the type; vertical air photos taken in the 1940's show the earthworks in fine detail. Outside the Scheduled area there are a series of further banks and ditches which extend into the surrounding fields, and are obviously connected to the central area as either feeder or drainage ditches and ancillary features. An area of very disturbed ground is shown as red stipple on Figure 3, which may be the site of further buildings or former earthworks or quarry areas.
Further banks and ditches are seen to the north west (AP 3) and may be connected with this site.
The outlying banks and ditches were seen as degraded but upstanding features in the 1940's, but may have been ploughed out since.

AP 3 (TL 122 203)
These banks and ditches were seen on air photos taken in the 1940's as degraded but upstanding features and are likely to be part of the complex of moat and drainage features at Someries Castle, although they lie outside the Scheduled area.
They are seen on the air photos as upstanding earthworks, and form a cohesive pattern which indicates the presence of a former system of drains and land boundaries.

<21> Bedfordshire County Council, Planning Dept File, 1970s (Unpublished document). SBD11426.

Correspondence re works needed to Someries.

<22> Bedfordshire County Council, Planning Dept File, 1982-83/4 (Unpublished document). SBD11426.

Specifications for repair works

<23> Dunstable Gazette, Wash and brush up for a castle; 5th December 1985 (Newspaper Article). SBD10607.

Unlike other historical landmarks in Bedfordshire which now stand in ruins, Someries Castle was not actually completed, but left to the elements without ever being used.
Situated several hundred yards from the end of Luton Airport's run-way, Someries Castle toady is nothing more than a remnant of its former glory.
John Leland, Hnery VIII's Antiquary, who died in 1592, described the Castle as "A fair place within the Parish of Luton called Somerys, the which house was sumptuously begun by the Lord Wenlock but not finished. The Gate House of Brick is very large and fair. Part of the residue of the new Foundations be yet seen, and part of the Old Place standeth yet. It is on a hill not far from St Anne's Hill."
Although no specific starting date is to be found, the man who had ordered it to be built, Lord Wenlock, died in 1471, during the reign of Edward IV, who then granted the property to Thomas Rotherham, Bishop of Lincoln. Someries is an early example of a brick-built construction, one of the first in England. The Flemish bricks used measure roughly nine inches by four by two. Any genuine brick of this sort would have been inported and, with a long journey from the port as well, would have been very expensive. This is the reason for the suggestion that they were made locally by Flemish immigrants.
Twenty years after taking possession of the Castle, Thomas Rotherham made a number of alterations. However, despite the continual building work going on at the place, the mansion was never finished.
One notable fact in the history of the Castle was that King James I, the first King of England and Scotland stayed there as the guest of Sir John Rotherham in 1605. In 1629 the property was bought by the Crawley family and they kept it for little more than 100 years before much of it was pulled down and the brick used to build Someries Farm and its adjoining buildings.
Jospeh Conrad, famous Polish aurthor, of such stories as The Rower, spent some time at the farm. In fact, during his visits he worked on some of his books. The farm buildings, still to be found on their original sites, represent the demise of Someries Castle, perhaps an unfitting end to one of the country's very first brick buildings.
Someries Castle, two miles south-east of the Town Hall in Luton and sitting on the Luton Hoo estate had been built compelte with mansion, gate house and chapel. An inventory of 1606 lists it as having 25 rooms, including Queen's Chamberm farm house, Le Grayes Chamber, clock chamber and many more. However, the list made no mention of the chapel and gate house, possibly they were built later.
Someries Castle has over the centuries remained in peaceful obscurity and unlike other remains such as Houghton House, near Ampthill, its remoteness protected it against the vandals of whom we are so familiar today.
Centuries of neglect had almost ensured that one of the few more important historical landmarks on Luton's doorstep had fallen off the map. It seems almost criminal that our heritage is allowed to suffer such humiliation.
Now, hoever, the ruins have been cleaned up, the weeds, nettles and rubble have been cleared, there is an iron fence around them with a gate at one end and easy access from the newly-built side road. The building having been given a good clean is now an attractive site for the tourist and is at last registered as an Ancient Monument.

<24> Bedfordshire County Council, Planning Dept File, 1981-1983 (Unpublished document). SBD11426.

Correspondence re guardianship of site being handed to Bedfordshire Country Countil

<25> Unknown, No details known for origin of source (Unpublished document). SBD10535.

Someries Castle is a confusing name for this historic, once isolate site, now just south of Luton Airport. There are two related sets of ancient remains here. The large rectangular earthworks were never a castle, but rather a medieval moated manorial homestead of the de Somerys family, who owned the land from the 13th century. By the mid 15th century the Someries estate had passed to John Lord Wenlock, who began building the now ruined house, which also was never a castle.

These two monuments have a local and a wider more general interest. They provide a contrast between the ways local lords at different times sought to indicate their status through their buildings. We do not know what stood within the early earthworks, but their palisaded banks and ditches were probably more to do with stock control and formal importance than with actual defence. The 15th century brick manor house made its point with a twin-turreted gatehouse, imposing but militarily futile. Another reason for the indefensibility of the later manor house was its fashionable use of brick, and Someries is an important early example in the region. Lord Wenlock's involvement in the Wars of the Roses led to his death in 1471 at the battle of Twekesbury, and the loss of his estates to Thomas Rotherham, later Archbishop of York, events which may be reflected in the building record.

There are gaps and ambiguities in the documentary history of the brick manor house. John Lord Wenlcok had received the Someries estate by the late 1430s. A century later, John Leland, Henry VIII's antiquary, wrote that the house 'called Somerys…was sumptuously begon by the Lord Wennelok but not finischid." Latest studies suggest work on the gatehouse started in the 1440s, to be interrupted in 1460 by a temporary royal seizure of the Wenlock estates. Work recommenced, including the construction of the chapel, to be interrupted finally in 1471. Leland refers rather obscurely to the survival in his time of part of the "Old Place". It has been duggested without any concrete evidence that this was a building on the earthwork site, occupied while the new house was under construction. It has also been suggested that Wenlock's successor, Rotherham, was responsible for part or, indeed, all of the brick ruins. Both men built other brick houses similar to Someries, but the evidence, including Leland's, points more towards Wenlock.

The surviving ruins are only part of the north wing of a house designed around a courtyard. The abutment of an eastern wing is plainly visible. An inventory of 1606 listed over 20 rooms in use, the year after James I stayed with Sir John Rotheram. From 1629 to 1712 the house belonged to the Luton family of Crawley. In 1724 it was sold to the Napiers, who were recorded to have pulled down a great portion of it in 1742. Prints from the late 18th century onwards show it more or less in the state it is today.

<26> Ordnance Survey, Ordnance Survey Archaeology Record Cards, TL 12 SW 5 (Unpublished document). SBD10879.

1. Chapel [GT] (Remains of)
2. These remains are in good condition. All exterior walls are standing to a height of about 15ft. No roof.

<27> Bedfordshire & Luton Archives and Records Service Documents, BLARS: W197 (Unpublished document). SBD10551.

The Tower at Luton, Bedfordshire. Sparrow, published c1767

<28> Unknown, No details known for origin of source (Unpublished document). SBD10535.

Remains of the Tower at Luton, Bedfordshire. Published March 2nd 1778

<29> Unknown, No details known for origin of source (Unpublished document). SBD10535.

Plan by Terence P Smith, 1965

<30> Ministry of Housing & Local Government, List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest, 1967 (Unpublished document). SBD12221.

Document stating that as the Crown has an interest or right to possession of the building it has been omitted from th e list, but is to be treated as if it was listed.

<31> Bedfordshire County Council, BCC Photographic Unit, PU 308/83 (Photograph). SBD10507.

Black & white images: Detail of the Brickwork and layour; The Gatehouse, Someries Castle prior to structural work.

<32> Bedfordshire County Council, BCC Photographic Unit, PU 15/62 (Photograph). SBD10507.

Black & white images of building

<33> Bedfordshire County Council, BCC Photographic Unit, PU 15/68 (Photograph). SBD10507.

Black & white image of front of building

<34> Bedfordshire County Council, BCC Photographic Unit, PU 73/1978 (Photograph). SBD10507.

Black and white image of exterior of building

<35> Unknown, Photograph of unknown origin (Photograph). SBD10631.

Two black & white images of the Gatehouse, one captioned 'External view from south-east before stabilisation works, with spiral staircase access on left. Note extensive vegetation on walls and wall tops.

<36> Bedfordshire County Council, 1970 - 2000s, HER Photograph Archive (Photograph). SBD10506.

Twelve black & white images of building

<37> Bedfordshire County Council, 1970 - 2000s, HER Photograph Archive, F262/31-36 (Photograph). SBD10506.

Colour images of exterior of building

<38> Bedfordshire County Council, 1970 - 2000s, HER Photograph Archive, F560/15-17 (Photograph). SBD10506.

Colour images of interior of building

<39> Bedfordshire County Council, 1970 - 2000s, HER Photograph Archive (Photograph). SBD10506.

Colour images of walls showing capping detail.

<39> Bedfordshire County Council, 1970 - 2000s, HER Photograph Archive, F572/24-36 (Photograph). SBD10506.

<40> Unknown, Photograph of unknown origin (Photograph). SBD10631.

Two colour images of exterior of building

<41> English Heritage, Notification of Scheduling, or an Affirmation or Revision of Scheduling, 21st September 1995 (Scheduling record). SBD12102.

Confirmation of revision of scheduled area

<42> Bedfordshire County Council, Planning Dept File, 1984-2009 (Unpublished document). SBD11426.

Various scheduled Monument consents for works

<43> Wilson Compton Associates, 2007, Someries Castle, Hyde; Architectural Appraisal (Archaeological Report). SBD14265.

Detailed architechtural and historical appraisal of the building, with plans and photographs

<44> Bedfordshire County Council, HER Slide Archive, 452-455; 1369; 2599-2604; 3146-3147; 3715-3716; 4265-4267; 4269-4276; 6596; 7719-7722 (Slide). SBD10508.

Colour images of the building, bricks and plans

<45> Bedfordshire County Council, 1970 - 2000s, HER Photograph Archive, 5/74 (Photograph). SBD10506.

[No info]

<46> NMR/AMIE, HE NRHE Monument Inventory, 362398 (Index). SBD12367.

The upstanding and buried remains of the late medieval magnate's residence known as Someries Castle and the adjacent garden earthworks. The upstanding remains include the gatehouse and chapel forming the north west wing of the magnate's residence. Although the roof has gone, the walls survive almost to a full height. The area occupied by the main block of the residence is defined by a raised platform containing low, irregular earthworks to the north east of the garden earthworks. Traces of a substantial brick wall are visible in the north east corner of the site. The remains of the associated fornal garden survive as a rectangular earthwork enclosed by a bank and ditch and containing a central square mound. The magnate's residence was built by Lord Wenlock, who acquired the Someries estate in the 1430s. The mansion is this thought to be one of the earliest brick buildings in England. The residence was never completed and much of the building was pulled down in 1742. It was preceded on the site by a house which was extant in the 13th century and may have been a fortified manor house or tower house. The exact location of this building is not known.

<47> Department of the Environment, Notification of Scheduling, or an Affirmation or Revision of Scheduling (Scheduling record). SBD12255.

The earthworks formerly believed to be those of the 13th/14th century manor house have been re-interpreted as the remains of a formal garden associated with the 15th century mansion. The location of the earlier building is not known.

<48> NMR/AMIE, HE NRHE Monument Inventory, 1090950 (Index). SBD12367.

The remains of the formal garden at Someries Castle. The remains are a well preserved example with a central raised mound, traces of paths and flowerbeds and surrounding terraces.

<49> John Britton & Edward Wedlake Brayley, 1801, The Beauties of England and Wales, Volume 1, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, pp. 32-3, https://archive.org/details/beautiesofenglan01brit/page/32/mode/2up (Bibliographic reference). SBD10810.

"In the reign of Edward the Fourth, a stately mansion was begun at Luton, by Lord Wenlock. Only the portico was finished, which still remains complete in the wood at Luton Hoo: it is a very beautiful specimen of that kind of architecture, styled the florid Gothic.
“The Lord Wennelock,” says Leland, “left an heire general, that was maried to a kinnesman of Thomas Scotte, otherwise caullid Rotheram, Bishop of York. He had with her yn mariage LUTON, in Bedfordshire, and three hunderith markes of landes thereaboute, and a faire place within the paroche of Luton caulyd Somerys, the which house was sumptuously begon by the Lord Wennelok, but not finisched.” The gateway, and part of a tower, are yet to be seen. The tower has been very high, and of great strength. Prior to the invention of gunpowder, it might have been regarded as impregnable. In the wall was a hole or cavity, called a whispering-pipe, which conveyed the lowest sound from the bottom to the top: this was entire, before Sir John Napier began to pull down the tower, about the commencement of the last century."

<50> Alan Cox, 2009, The Manufacture of Bricks and Tiles in the Luton Area and Gazetteer of Brick and Tilemaking Sites in the Luton Area, pp. 2-5 (Text) (Unpublished document). SBD13706.

Someries Castle, which lies just south east of Luton in the parish of Hyde, was probably begun about 1448 and is the earliest partially surviving brick building in Bedfordshire (4). What survives are the ruins of the gateway and adjoining chapel, which almost certainly represent what was a much larger courtyard house. It was certainly not a castle so its traditional name is misleading.
The clay for the bricks for Someries was doubtless dug close by, and the bricks themselves would have been made and fired on site, mainly in temporary clamps. However, the brickmakers and bricklayers for Someries were very probably immigrant Flemish craftsmen. Indeed, they seem to have been a relatively small group of itinerant craftsmen operating mainly on the Essex/Hertfordshire border, and moving from one building site to another. Thus, there are a number of surviving mid-15th century brick buildings in the Essex-Hertfordshire area which share identical brick details with some of those at Someries.
The skilled and sophisticated brickwork found at Someries was very expensive to produce, and is a reminder that when bricks were re-introduced into medieval England they were for some time used only in buildings for those at the very highest levels of society, the rich and powerful. These people often had close connections with the Crown and the royal court, and were, therefore at the heart of government. Some of them would have seen the latest brick buildings on the Continent during campaigns in the Hundred Years War. To such patrons brick was the very height of fashion and their use of it demonstrated to everyone just how up-to-the-minute they were.
The two men connected with the building of Someries demonstrate this very well. It was probably begun in about 1448 by Sir John Wenlock (subsequently Lord Wenlock), a local Bedfordshire landowner. He was Chamberlain to Margaret of Anjou, the queen of the Lancastrian King Henry VI. He was, therefore, a protagonist in the Wars of the Roses, which were raging throughout the time Someries was being built. Wenlock was attainted of high treason in October 1459, and this probably accounts for a break in construction which is clearly visible at the west end of the chapel. But in August 1460 the attainder was annulled, and Wenlock presumably resumed work at Someries. Although starting on the Lancastrian side when he fought at the first battle of St Alban’s, he supported the Yorkist cause at the Battle of Towton, before changing back again, perishing in the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471, fighting on the Lancastrian side. He is said to have been killed by one of his fellow commanders, who was incensed because Wenlock did not give him support during the fighting (5). He is commemorated by a very fine canopied tomb in Luton parish church.
After Wenlock’s death, Someries passed to a prominent Yorkist, Thomas Rotherham, a leading churchman and statesman, who was to become Archbishop of York, and survived into the reign of Henry VII, dying in 1500 at the age of 76. He probably continued to build Someries in brick, and was responsible for other brick buildings, including Buckden Towers, near Huntingdon, and Bishopsthorpe, the Archbishop’s Palace in York. However, he did not live at Someries and possibly never even saw it (6). The Tudor antiquary John Leland credits only Wenlock with the building and makes no mention of Rotherham(7).
There are at least two outstanding details at Someries, both to be found on or in the gatehouse, which demonstrate that even at this early date the craftsmanship was of a remarkably high standard, not only in the brickmaking but also in the bricklaying. Indeed, it is possible that the same men were practising both trades, or at least that there must have been a close working relationship between the brickmakers and bricklayers.
The first outstanding feature is the corbel table above the outer (north-west) archway of the gatehouse. This is the more splendid of two corbel tables at Someries (the other is on the chapel), and it has cinquefoiled archlets. It is one of the most complex and earliest examples of moulded detail to be found in English medieval brickwork. The different shapes would have had to be separately moulded, and the moulding itself would have been difficult, perhaps requiring a mould in several parts, which could be taken apart in order to extract the moulded component. Such complex pieces could only be fired in a kiln, not a clamp, and they would require kiln furniture such as stands and supports, which would have had to be specially arranged in the kiln. Finally, the fired brick components would require skilful laying, and some final shaping might have to be done by cutting with a brick axe or saw, or by rubbing the components with a hard piece of stone.
The gatehouse at Rye House, Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, has three corbel tables on its entrance front which are almost identical with the one on the gateway at Someries. Rye House is almost contemporary with Someries, dating from about 1443. It is, therefore, highly likely that both are the work of the same group of immigrant craftsmen.
The other outstanding feature at Someries, and perhaps the best, is the very fine brick-built spiral staircase in the southern corner of the gatehouse – a feature which is again paralleled at Rye House. The staircase is wholly of brick, with a handrail in moulded brick inset into the side walls. The steps rest on a vaulting of bricks that radiates from the circular newels, and Jane Wight remarks that the ‘vault [is] so beautifully laid it looks carved out of butter’. The staircase at Someries is now ruinous, and to get a better impression of what it was like in its prime one needs to go to Rye House or Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk, built in the 1470s and 1480s, the latter now in the care of the National Trust. There are a few other examples of such staircases, including two at Kirby Muxloe Castle, Leicestershire, in the care of English Heritage.
Someries subsequently became part of the Luton Hoo estate, and was mostly demolished in 1742; the present remains may have been left as a ready-made ‘folly’ as part of the landscaping of the estate. There is a delightful watercolour landscape of the ruins by Paul Sandby, painted about 1765, now in the Barber Institute, Birmingham. The ruins of Someries were eventually taken into care by Bedfordshire County Council, who repaired and consolidated them. They are now in the care of Central Bedfordshire Council and can be visited at any reasonable time.

(4) This account is very largely based on a series of articles on Someries Castle by Terence Paul Smith: ‘Someries Castle’, Bedfordshire Archaeological Journal, vol III, 1966, pp.35-51; ‘Someries Castle: Some Reconsiderations’, Bedfordshire Archaeological Journal, vol V, 1970, pp.109-112; ‘Rye House, Hertfordshire, and Aspects of Early Brickwork in England’, Archaeological Journal, vol 132, 1975, pp.111-150; ‘The Early Brickwork of Someries Castle and its place in the History of English Brick Building’, Journal of the British Archaeological Association, vol CXXIX, 1976, pp. 42-58. In addition reference has also been made to Jane A. Wight, Brick Building in England from the Middle Ages to 1550, London: John Baker (Publishers) Ltd, 1972, pp. 226-227.
(5) Trevor Royle, The Road to Bosworth Field: A New History of the Wars of the Roses, London: Little, Brown, 2009, pp.252, 315, 335-7.
(6) Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. David H. Kennett, ‘Thomas Rotherham, a Fifteenth-Century Bishop and Builder in Brick: a preliminary note’, British Brick Society Information, no.112, April 2010, pp.6-18.
(7) Lucy Toulmin Smith, The Itinerary of John Leland in or about the Years 1535-1543, vol IV, London: G. Bell & Sons, 1907-10, reissued London: Centaur Press, 1964, p.121.

<51> Luton Museum, Accession Register, 362/61; BL/122/48; 1984/158 (Unpublished document). SBD10775.

362/61 - Door key, iron, solid shank, found inside the ruins of Someries Castle. 16th century
BL/122/48 - Brick from Someries Castle, Luton. Probably made locally. 15th century. Obtained by Mr J.G.Dony
1984/158 - Tile, medieval, 14th century. Penn Type 107. Found near the Chapel at Someries Castle.

<52> Stratascan, 2006, Someries Castle, Hyde, Bedfordshire (Archaeological Report). SBD14266.

The geophysical survey undertaken at Someries Castle, Hyde, was successful in locating a number of anomalies of possible archaeological origin. Positive linear anomalies within the gradiometer data indicate the presence of cut features, as do negative area anomalies within the resistance data. A number of the anomalies relate directly to the earthworks whereas others may be related to earlier activity on the site.

Protected Status:

  • Archaeological Notification Area (AI) HER360: SOMERIES CASTLE
  • Scheduled Monument 1008452: Someries Castle: a medieval magnate's residence and formal garden remains
  • SHINE: Someries Castle

Monument Type(s):

Associated Finds

  • FBD14430 - SHERD (13th Century to 14th Century - 1200 AD to 1399 AD)
  • FBD17633 - TILE (14th Century - 1300 AD to 1399 AD)
  • FBD17632 - BRICK (15th Century - 1400 AD to 1499 AD)
  • FBD14429 - BARTMANN JUG (16th Century to 17th Century - 1500 AD to 1699 AD)
  • FBD17625 - KEY (LOCKING) (16th Century - 1500 AD to 1599 AD)

Associated Events

  • EBD338 - Someries Castle, Hyde, Bedfordshire (Ref: J2126)
  • EBD447 - Land South of Luton Airport: Interpretation of Aerial Photographs for Archaeology (Ref: 0423)
  • EBD553 - Cultural Heritage Desk Top Assessment of Runway Replacement Options for London Luton Airport (Ref: TOR158606B)
  • EBD1398 - Someries Castle: Some Reconsiderations

Sources and Further Reading

[1]SBD10922 - Bibliographic reference: J. Nicholls. 1780-1797. Biblioteca Topographica Britannica. p. 54; p. 53 (2nd numbering sequence).
[2]SBD10879 - Unpublished document: Ordnance Survey. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Record Cards. OS: TL 12 SW 6.
[3]SBD14113 - Article in serial: Bedfordshire Archaeological Council. 1966. Bedfordshire Archaeological Journal, Volume III. Vol. 3, 1966, pp. 35-51.
[4]SBD14115 - Article in serial: Bedfordshire Archaeological Council. 1970. Bedfordshire Archaeological Journal, Volume 5. Vol. 5, 1970, pp. 109-112.
[5]SBD10543 - Serial: Bedfordshire Magazine. Vol. 5, 1955-1957, pp. 157-162.
[6]SBD10543 - Serial: Bedfordshire Magazine. Vol. 9, 1963-1965, pp. 38, 259.
[7]SBD10543 - Serial: Bedfordshire Magazine. Vol. 11, No. 88, 1967-1969, pp. 344-347.
[8]SBD10927 - Bibliographic reference: Journal of the British Archaeological Association. Vol. 129, 1976, pp. 42-58.
[9]SBD11111 - Index: DoE list, unspecified. 7/20.
[10]SBD10779 - Observations and Comments: Stephen R. Coleman. Comments. August 1983.
[11]SBD10551 - Unpublished document: Bedfordshire & Luton Archives and Records Service Documents. BLARS: AT & MAT 30/1, Tithe Award and Map, 1842.
[12]SBD10708 - Photograph: National Monuments Record. NMR Photographs.
[13]SBD10637 - Aerial Photograph: Hunting Surveys. 1968. Hunting Aerial Photos 1968. 12/5896.
[14]SBD10649 - Aerial Photograph: Hunting Surveys. 1974. Hunting Aerial Photos 1974. 12/2511.
[15]SBD10652 - Aerial Photograph: Hunting Surveys. 1976. Hunting Aerial Photos 1976. 9/2183.
[16]SBD10785 - Article in serial: Royal Archaeological Institute. Archaeological Journal. Vol. 139, 1983, pp. 43-46.
[17]SBD10574 - Bibliographic reference: William Page & H. Arthur Doubleday (Editors). 1904. Victoria County History Vol I, Bedfordshire. Vol. I, 1904, p. 305.
[18]SBD10803 - Scheduling record: English Heritage. SAM Record Form. No. 20458.
[19]SBD10881 - Plan: HER plans. Plan, 1:500.
[20]SBD12526 - Archaeological Report: Air Photo Services Ltd. 2006. Land South of Luton Airport: Interpretation of Aerial Photographs for Archaeology.. 0423. Report 0423, pp. 12-13, Figure 3, re. areas of archaeological interest AP 2 and AP 3..
[21]SBD11426 - Unpublished document: Bedfordshire County Council. Planning Dept File. 1970s.
[22]SBD11426 - Unpublished document: Bedfordshire County Council. Planning Dept File. 1982-83/4.
[23]SBD10607 - Newspaper Article: Dunstable Gazette. Wash and brush up for a castle; 5th December 1985.
[24]SBD11426 - Unpublished document: Bedfordshire County Council. Planning Dept File. 1981-1983.
[25]SBD10535 - Unpublished document: Unknown. No details known for origin of source.
[26]SBD10879 - Unpublished document: Ordnance Survey. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Record Cards. TL 12 SW 5.
[27]SBD10551 - Unpublished document: Bedfordshire & Luton Archives and Records Service Documents. BLARS: W197.
[28]SBD10535 - Unpublished document: Unknown. No details known for origin of source.
[29]SBD10535 - Unpublished document: Unknown. No details known for origin of source.
[30]SBD12221 - Unpublished document: Ministry of Housing & Local Government. List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. 1967.
[31]SBD10507 - Photograph: Bedfordshire County Council. BCC Photographic Unit. PU 308/83.
[32]SBD10507 - Photograph: Bedfordshire County Council. BCC Photographic Unit. PU 15/62.
[33]SBD10507 - Photograph: Bedfordshire County Council. BCC Photographic Unit. PU 15/68.
[34]SBD10507 - Photograph: Bedfordshire County Council. BCC Photographic Unit. PU 73/1978.
[35]SBD10631 - Photograph: Unknown. Photograph of unknown origin.
[36]SBD10506 - Photograph: Bedfordshire County Council. 1970 - 2000s. HER Photograph Archive.
[37]SBD10506 - Photograph: Bedfordshire County Council. 1970 - 2000s. HER Photograph Archive. F262/31-36.
[38]SBD10506 - Photograph: Bedfordshire County Council. 1970 - 2000s. HER Photograph Archive. F560/15-17.
[39]SBD10506 - Photograph: Bedfordshire County Council. 1970 - 2000s. HER Photograph Archive. F572/24-36.
[40]SBD10631 - Photograph: Unknown. Photograph of unknown origin.
[41]SBD12102 - Scheduling record: English Heritage. Notification of Scheduling, or an Affirmation or Revision of Scheduling. 21st September 1995.
[42]SBD11426 - Unpublished document: Bedfordshire County Council. Planning Dept File. 1984-2009.
[43]SBD14265 - Archaeological Report: Wilson Compton Associates. 2007. Someries Castle, Hyde; Architectural Appraisal.
[44]SBD10508 - Slide: Bedfordshire County Council. HER Slide Archive. 452-455; 1369; 2599-2604; 3146-3147; 3715-3716; 4265-4267; 4269-4276; 6596; 7719-7722.
[45]SBD10506 - Photograph: Bedfordshire County Council. 1970 - 2000s. HER Photograph Archive. 5/74.
[46]SBD12367 - Index: NMR/AMIE. HE NRHE Monument Inventory. 362398.
[47]SBD12255 - Scheduling record: Department of the Environment. Notification of Scheduling, or an Affirmation or Revision of Scheduling.
[48]SBD12367 - Index: NMR/AMIE. HE NRHE Monument Inventory. 1090950.
[49]SBD10810 - Bibliographic reference: John Britton & Edward Wedlake Brayley. 1801. The Beauties of England and Wales, Volume 1, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire. pp. 32-3, https://archive.org/details/beautiesofenglan01brit/page/32/mode/2up.
[50]SBD13706 - Unpublished document: Alan Cox. 2009. The Manufacture of Bricks and Tiles in the Luton Area and Gazetteer of Brick and Tilemaking Sites in the Luton Area. pp. 2-5 (Text).
[51]SBD10775 - Unpublished document: Luton Museum. Accession Register. 362/61; BL/122/48; 1984/158.
[52]SBD14266 - Archaeological Report: Stratascan. 2006. Someries Castle, Hyde, Bedfordshire. J2126.