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HER Number:21448
Type of record:Monument


The historian Leland records that Sir Robert Sheffield built a 'great tour of brick' at West Butterwick. His son, also called Sir Robert, then occupied this tower. Location uncertain, but perhaps on the south side of the village where park placenames are recorded in the 18th century.

Grid Reference:SE 834 057
Map Sheet:SE80NW
Map:Show location on Streetmap

Monument Types

  • TOWER HOUSE (MED/PM, Medieval to Post Medieval - 1500 AD? to 1600 AD?)

Protected Status - None

Associated Finds - None

Associated Events - None

Full description

A Robert Sheffield, the third of that name, was knighted by Edward I (1272 - 1307). He married the daughter of the owner of West Butterwick, Alexander Lound, and thus came into the estate.

His descendant Sir Robert Sheffield, born in 1470, was one of the commanders of the King's army against John, Earl of Lincoln, in the battle of Stoke. He fought for Henry VII in 1497 at the battle of Blackheath was later Recorder of London and then Speaker of the House of Commons. Sir Robert married Helen, daughter and sole heir of Sir John Delves, and built a 'great tour of brick'.

Sir Robert died in the Tower of London after being arrested by the Star Chamber - he had made speeches critical of Cardinal Wolsey. His son, also called Robert, also resided in the tower at West Butterwick. His grandson Edmund was created 'Baron Sheffield of Butterwick' by the will of Henry VIII. [1, 2]

John Snape's 1778 map of West Butterwick, as redrawn by Russell, depicts a group of four fields on the south side of the village with 'Park' placenames: Low Park, Park Hill, Pond Park and Upper Park. A conjectural location for the tower house might be in area SE834 057, in a parcel of land between Park Hill and Upper Park. [3, 8]

Morle's History of West Butterwick states that in the 17th century one of the partners of Cornelius Vermuyden, a Dr Goel and his daughter, paid several visits to the Sheffields at West Butterwick. In 1616, Sir Edmund Sheffield who lived at Butterwick Castle was appointed ' President of the Council of the North'. In 1625 he was created Earl of Mulgrave, and 'His castle was now called Mulgrave Castle'. Morle also states that prisoners were held in the tower, and includes the story of one prisoner (Frank Vavasour) witnessing the funeral cortege of the first Earl Mulgrave. However, his source is a historical novel published in 1903 ('MS. in a Red Box').

After the Sheffield family moved to Normanby c. 1660 AD, the tower fell into ruins, and a manor house known as the Old Hall may have been built on or about the same site. The Old Hall was demolished in the early 20th century.

C. 1897, a 'large number of corpses' were found near to the house occupied by J Threadgold. Morle supposed that these burials were of prisoners from the 'castle', held by Lord Mulgrave in 1625. 'Mr Threadgold's house is built on ground which formerly formed part of the park on the estate of Lord Mulgrave…(who) would require a burial ground on his estate…at a distance from his castle.' [4]

The building of a great house at West Butterwick might explain the abandonment of the moated manor at North Conesby, near Scunthorpe (SMR 2213). Sir Robert Sheffield bought large estates at Conesby from Brian Boys, c. 1445. The archaeological evidence shows that during the mid to late 15th century there was a renewed period of activity on the moated site, and a new hall was erected (Building 4). This building stood for no more that half a century, before it was demolished and the site was abandoned. The son of the new owner of Conesby was the Sir Robert Sheffield who was born c. 1470 (see Ref 1 and 2 above). It seems possible that North Conesby was abandoned due to the new building at West Butterwick. [5]

A map of Lincolnshire by Christopher Saxton was published as Plate 26 in Camden's 'Britannia' in 1637. Saxton died in 1610 or 1611, so the map was prepared some time earlier.

A green tinted area enclosed by a fence or pale is depicted at 'W: Butterwick'. Within it is a great house symbol, resembling a tower with smaller buildings on one side.

A larger enclosed hunting park is shown at 'Kelfeld' to the south [6, 7]

<1> Sutton Park Stately Home, http://www.statelyhome.co.uk/history (WEBSITE). SLS4035.

<2> WB Stonehouse, 1839, The History and Topography of the Isle of Axholme, 269-70 (BOOK). SLS4033.

<3> North Lincolnshire Museum, Parish files, West Butterwick (MUSEUM RECORDS). SLS1344.

<4> Stanley Morle, History of West Butterwick, 17 - 18, 23, 46 (BOOK). SLS4037.

<5> Bradley, J., 2005, Archaeological Excavations at Little Conesby Moated Site, Normanby Enterprise Park, Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire, 12, 170 (REPORT - INTERIM, RESEARCH, SPECIALIST, ETC). SLS2742.

<6> Camden, William, 1586-1695, Camden's Britannia (BOOK). SLS4627.

<7> National Library of Australia, http://nla.gov.au/nla.map-rm1208 (WEBSITE). SLS4628.

<8> J Snape, 1788, A Plan of the Manor of West Butterwick in the parish of Owston (GROUND SLIDE). SLS6343.

Sources and further reading

<1>WEBSITE: Sutton Park Stately Home. http://www.statelyhome.co.uk/history. http://www.statelyhome.co.uk/history.
<2>BOOK: WB Stonehouse. 1839. The History and Topography of the Isle of Axholme. Hardback. A4 Bound. 269-70.
<3>MUSEUM RECORDS: North Lincolnshire Museum. Parish files. West Butterwick.
<4>BOOK: Stanley Morle. History of West Butterwick. Softback. 17 - 18, 23, 46.
<5>REPORT - INTERIM, RESEARCH, SPECIALIST, ETC: Bradley, J.. 2005. Archaeological Excavations at Little Conesby Moated Site, Normanby Enterprise Park, Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire. February 2005. Bound A4 report. 12, 170.
<6>BOOK: Camden, William. 1586-1695. Camden's Britannia.
<7>WEBSITE: National Library of Australia. http://catalogue.nla.gov.au. http://nla.gov.au/nla.map-rm1208.
<8>GROUND SLIDE: J Snape. 1788. A Plan of the Manor of West Butterwick in the parish of Owston. 10-36. Jpeg.

Related records

21731Related to: DEER PARK, KELFIELD (Landscape)
21732Related to: MEDIEVAL PARK, WEST BUTTERWICK (Landscape)