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HER Number (PRN):01133
Name:Moreton Corbet Castle
Type of Record:Monument
Protected Status:Listed Building (I) 1366802: MORETON CORBET CASTLE
Scheduled Monument 1015317: Moreton Corbet Castle

Monument Types

  • CASTLE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1540 AD)
  • KEEP (Medieval to 17th century - 1066 AD to 1699 AD)
  • COUNTRY HOUSE (16th century to 17th century - 1500 AD to 1699 AD)
  • FORMAL GARDEN (16th century to 17th century - 1500 AD to 1699 AD)
  • SIEGEWORK? (17th century - 1644 AD to 1650 AD)

Summary

Scheduled Monument and Grade I Listed Building: Though ruinous, Moreton Corbet is a fine example of a post medieval country house (being described by Pevsner as being 'amongst the most impressive and consistent designs in the country'), and is of particular interest because of its origins as a medieval castle.

Parish:Moreton Corbet and Lee Brockhurst, North Shropshire, Shropshire
Map Sheet:SJ52SE
Grid Reference:SJ 5600 2309

Related records

02867Parent of: Moreton Corbet Deserted Medieval Village (Monument)
02867Related to: Moreton Corbet Deserted Medieval Village (Monument)
02867Parent of: Moreton Corbet Deserted Medieval Village (Monument)
02867Related to: Moreton Corbet Deserted Medieval Village (Monument)

Associated Finds

  • FSA2029 - MUSKET BALL (17th century - 1600 AD to 1699 AD)

Associated Events

  • ESA1459 - Undated field observation by English Heritage
  • ESA1460 - 1961 field observation by the Ordnance Survey
  • ESA1461 - 1982 field observation by Shropshire County Council
  • ESA1462 - 1986 field observation by English Heritage
  • ESA7309 - 2014 metal detecting survey of possible civil war seige site, Moreton Corbet Castle by University of Huddersfield

Description

Castle, now ruined. Circa 1200 and C14, altered and enlarged in the mid- and late C16 (dated 1576 and 1578) for Sir Andrew Corbet (d.1579) and Robert Corbet (d.1583). Red and yellow/grey sandstone; dressed stone and ashlar. Roughly-triangular plan. Keep of c.1200 to south west, C14 gatehouse to north altered in late C16, C12 east range altered in the 1560's, and L-shaped south range dated 1578.
Keep: square plan. 3 storeys. Chamfered plinth, and set-back pilaster buttresses, returning to square at top and bottom (cf. Wattlesborough Castle, Alberbury with Cardeston not included on this list). Large first-floor fireplace with remains of hood and octagonal shafts with stiff-leaf capitals. Curtain wall: section of wall between keep and gatehouse with chamfered plinth and bastions at intervals.
Gatehouse: 2 storeys. Chamfered plinth. Central continuously chamfered archway with remains of C16 first-floor window above. First-floor chamfered rectangular side windows. Carved elephant and castle and datestone: "S A C/1579" above entrance.
East range: inserted C16 windows, and fireplace internally.
South range: L-plan. 2 storeys and attic. 1:3:1:3:1 bays. Moulded plinth. Applied orders, Doric to ground floor and Ionic to first floor, with carved pedestals (beasts at corners) and full entablatures (Doric with carved devices). Parapet with shell lunettes and obelisks with figures (now mostly gone). 3-light stone mullioned and transomed windows. Projecting bays with 5-light mullioned and transomed windows and shaped gables with triangular-pedimented 3- light windows. Small doorways in second and seventh bays with doorcases consisting of small caryatids with Ionic capitals supporting entablatures with uncarved medallions. 2-bay left-hand return front. Rear wing largely demolished. Interior of southern range: various fireplaces. One in room to left of centre with moulded surround, cornice and chamfered rustication to right. Brick-lined walls.
The architect of the southern range is not known but it might have been Robert Corbet who travelled throughout Europe in the course of his diplomatic missions and is known to have visited Italy, France and the Low Countries. The range was unfinished at the time of Robert Corbet's death in 1583. It was set on fire by the Parliamentarian force during the Civil War but a drawing records the date 1667 on one of the stacks which suggests that building work continued afterwards. John H. Haycock prepared designs for the rebuilding of the house in 1796 but they remained unexecuted. County Ancient Monument No. 137.<3>

Leach gives as photograph of the C16 building and two sketches of parts of it.<3e>

Evaluated for MPP in 1990-1, Medium score as one of 15 Tower Keep Castles <17>

Scheduling revised in 1997. Scheduling description: ->

-> The monument includes the earthwork, ruined and buried remains of the medieval enclosure castle at Moreton Corbet, the ruined and buried remains of the country house to which it was converted in the 16th century, and the earthwork and buried remains of its formal gardens protected within three separate areas. ->

-> Moreton Corbet is situated on low-lying ground on the west side of the Roden Valley, 12km north east of Shrewsbury. The medieval castle was established by the Toret family, probably in the 12th century, and was then known as Moreton Toret. It consisted of a small keep on the west side of a moated platform, and was probably surrounded by a timber stockade. The property passed by marriage to the Corbets of Wattlesborough, who provided the castle with a stone curtain wall with a gatehouse in its north east angle. A medieval settlement is known to have grown up around the castle and was still inhabited in 1503, but appears to have been deserted when the castle was rebuilt soon after this date. Its remains will have been modified by the construction of post-medieval buildings and roads, and the aerodrome to the south, and they are not included in the scheduling. ->

-> The 16th century remodelling of the castle took place in two phases. The first has not been precisely dated, however the style of the remains suggests it was underway during the 1560s, under the ownership of Sir Andrew Corbet, who was several times Sheriff of Salop. During this phase the gatehouse was extensively refaced and part of the curtain wall between it and the keep was rebuilt. A new east range was constructed, along a different alignment from the curtain wall, with a great hall at its southern end which encroached on the earlier moat. The second phase of remodelling involved the construction of an L-shaped south range, arranged around a courtyard and incorporating the recently rebuilt east range. The south range is dated 1579 and, although begun in Sir Andrew's lifetime, it was almost certainly inspired if not designed by his eldest son Robert. Robert Corbet was a courtier and diplomat who travelled extensively in Europe and, according to Camden, 'carried away with the affectionate delight of Architecture, began to build in a barraine place a most gorgeous and stately house, after the Italian model ..'. The south range, which housed a suite of large chambers, obliterated the medieval defences and was built over a section of the infilled moat. Its southern façade still shows the ostentatious nature of its classical theme, which incorporates Doric and Ionic columns in a symmetrical design. South of the new house extensive formal gardens were created to complement its grandeur and symmetry. A contemporary document refers to 'a garden with an orchard adjoining it .. Divers solars (solaria) cut into one rock, and .. Divers covered walks and arbours'. ->

-> Robert Corbet died in 1583 leaving his house unfinished, and during the Civil War it was damaged and subsequently set on fire by the Parliamentarian forces. Later sold by Sir Vincent Corbet to pay off his Civil War debts, the house was redeemed by Andrew Corbet in 1743; however plans for its repair were never carried out, and the Corbets ' preferred residence in the 18th century was Shawbury Park. By 1776 the south range was roofless, and early 19th century drawings by Buckler show the buildings in almost the ruinous state in which they stand today. Moreton Corbet castle remains in the ownership of the Corbet family, and in the care of the Secretary of State and is Listed Grade I. St Bartholomew's Church, which is not included in the scheduling, to the north of the castle contains several monuments to the Corbet family. ->

-> The remains of the medieval castle are constructed of coursed dressed sandstone blocks. The north wall and parts of the east and west walls of the keep stand to the height of the wall-walk, with parts of the parapet wall remaining. Originally rectangular in plan, the keep measured 12m x10m externally, and has pilaster buttresses at its angles. It is divided internally into three stages, the second floor chamber probably being a later insertion, and the north wall retains a fireplace at first floor level, with the remains of a stone hood and polygonal shafts with foliate carved capitals. The 14th century curtain wall extends north eastwards from the north west angle of the keep and appears to have enclosed a roughly triangular area. Its southern extent has been obscured by later developments, however evidence for the original layout of the curtain wall will survive below ground. Two medieval sections stand between the keep and two storey gatehouse, which retains some medieval fabric despite extensive 16th century remodelling. The gatehouse, now approached by a modern wooden staircase, has a chamfered plinth and central chamfered archway with the remains of a 16th century window above it. Rectangular windows light the first floor at either side. A carved elephant and castle decorate the datestone above the entrance which is inscribed 'SAC 1579', recording Sir Andrew Corbet's 16th centruy modifications to the medieval structure of the castle. The outer wall of his east range survives as a standing ruin; an old drawing shows that the upper end of the great hall, the south end of the range, was formerly lit by a large mullioned and transomed bay window. ->

-> The south range is also dated 1579, on a shield on the south west corner, and in the form 'ER21' at the south east corner. It is constructed of brick on a plinth of coursed sandstone blocks, and is faced in ashlar. Originally L-shaped in plan, the west face, parts of the north and east faces, and much of the south face stand to their full height. The five-bay design housed two main storeys and an attic, and had a moulded pediment and cornice. The grandeur and symmetry of the original design can still be appreciated from the remains of the south face, whose two intermediate bays are lit by three-light mullioned and transomed windows. The central and end bays project slightly and house massive five-light windows, with ogee-shaped gables above incorporating three-light windows with triangular pediments. Attached Doric columns ornament the ground floor, and fluted Ionic columns the slightly taller first floor, in addition to carved pedestals and carved beasts at the corners of the building. Two small doorways in the intermediate bays have small caryatids with Ionic capitals. Internally, several divisions remains, as well as a number of fireplaces, one retaining its moulded surround and cornice. The rear wing, which incorporated the earlier east range, is now largely demolished. Old illustrations show that the north wall had a central seven-light window flanked by two four-light windows with ogee-shaped gables. The west wall of the range has no columns, instead having pilasters on the first floor; the windows are of three and four lights. This slightly irregular scheme contrasts with the carefully executed south face and may have been carried out after Robert Corbet's death. ->

-> The medieval castle was surrounded by a moat which survives as a broad shallow depression up to 15m wide around the north west, north, and east sides of the castle. There is a low causeway across the moat in front of the gatehouse, under the modern stairway. The south end of the eastern arm of the moat has been obscured by part of the 16th century east wing, and the southern arm was infilled by the construction of the south range, however evidence for the original extent of the moat will survive below ground in these areas. The remains of the formal gardens associated with the 16th century house extend southwards from the house in the form of a large platform, c.130m square, which has been modified in places by agriculture and by the construction of the road which dog-legs inside its western and southern edges. The platform is defined by a scarp slope which is up to 1.2m high along the western half of the south side. The western side of the platform has been partly removed by small-scale quarrying, and the eastern side is indicated by a very spread scarp which now merges with the natural slope of the land. A survey of the remains in the 1980s located low mounds at the remaining three corners of the platform, the north western one having been modified by the construction of Castle Farm. These will have housed gazebos from which the gardens could be viewed, and the mound at the south west corner of the garden is clearly visible. Only the surviving south western mound and an adjoining section of platform are included in the scheduling. West of Castle Farm the earthwork remains of a causeway are believed to represent the original access to the house from the road to the west, with further earthworks to either side representing further garden features designed to ornament the approach. The sets of modern wooden steps are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included. <18>

Grinshill sandstone ashlar still wonderfully crisp. It is dated 1579 and is one of the earliest large-scale displays of the classical orders to survive in England. It was built for Robert Corbet who had travelled on the Continent on diplomatic missions, but who died in 1583 leaving the work unfinished. The façade design has much in common with Longleat also of the 1570s, and Somerset House in the Strand, of the early 1550s. The design might have been influenced by chateaux of the Loire rather than Italy. Newman gives further description and plate 54 shows the west pavilion of the south range.<19>

Photographed during aerial photographic survey between 2007 and 2008. <20><21><22>

The original medieval castle dates from c.1200 and was originally known as Moreton Toret until the 16th Century. The castle saw several additions under Andrew Corbet in the mid-16th Century, though many of these changes were later replaced by the development of the Elizabethan house. The development of this aspect of the house saw several stop-starts owing to the early death of Robert Corbet in 1583, and being briefly unoccupied in the early 17th Century. The house was garrisoned for the Royalists prior to 1644, when it was apparently taken by Parliament in January-February of that year. It was retaken by Vincent Corbet before again being captured in September 1644 by the mercenary William Reinking for Parliament. Parliament chose to abandon the structure and slight the defences. This may refer only to earthen fortifications as paintings dated from the 18th Century show the house to be largely intact, though as it was lived in at least as late at 1667, it may have undergone some degree of repair prior to abandonment sometime in the late 17th Century. ->

-> A metal detecting survey was carried out to the S of Moreton Corbet Castle, focused upon the possible Civil War siege site, as part of PhD research undertaken by Richard Leese, of the University of Huddersfield. The field was surveyed in transects and is part of a programme of activity which is ongoing. <23>

The metal detecting survey recovered a range of musket balls, carbine balls and a coin (possibly of Edward I). Further information is awaited. <24>

A review article by Elain Harwood in English Heritage Historical Review in 2006 collates the findings of recent work by local historians, relating these to the surviving fabric. Includes material from a court book of 1588 and a number of 18th century illustrations of the castle, amplifying understanding of this important piece of Elizabethan architecture, and documenting its progressive decline and a proposal to rebuild it. <25>

The south front built by Robert Corbet, 'carried away with the affectionate delight of architecture … after the Italian model'. The suggestion has been made that it is based on designs by Palladio and if so, it illustrates how florid his work was in comparison with the austerity of most Elizabethan and Jacobean houses in Shropshire. Photograph of S front.<26>


<00> Shropshire County Council SMR, Site and Monuments Record (SMR) cards, SMR Card for PRN SA 01133 (Card index). SSA20722.


<01> Ordnance Survey, 1970, Ordnance Survey Record Card SJ52SE1 (Card index). SSA4464.


<02a> Hogg A H A & King D J C, 1967, Masonry Castles in Wales and the Marches, p114 (Article in serial). SSA243.


<02> Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission (HBMC), 1987-Feb-17, Scheduled Monument Report on SAM 32118 (17/02/1987) (Field Monument Warden Report). SSA4472.


<03f> Stackhouse-Acton F (Mrs), 1865-1869, Castles and Old Mansions of Shropshire, p36-37 (Monograph). SSA675.


<03e> Leach F, 1891, The County Seats of Shropshire, p71-79 (Monograph). SSA535.


<03c> Jones T L, 1956, Article in the Archaeological Journal (Article in serial). SSA4463.


<03a> Pevsner Nikolaus, 1958, Buildings of England (Shropshire), p204-205 (Monograph). SSA110.


<03b> Colvin H M, 1978, Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1660-1840 (3rd Edition), p407-408 (Monograph). SSA587.


<03d> Anon, 1981, Archaeological Journal, p44-46 (Volume). SSA4462.


<03> Department of the Environment (DoE), 1986-Oct-29, 35th List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest, p53 (List of Buildings). SSA4414.


<04> Anon, 1900, Article in Country Life (Article in serial). SSA4461.


<05> Anon, Pamphlet (Leaflet). SSA4460.


<06> Hymas Michael J, 1992, Slide, July 1992. (Photograph). SSA4469.


<07> Burrow Ian, 1978, Moreton Corbet Castle (Photograph). SSA4468.


<08> Watson Michael D, 1985, Moreton Corbet Castle (Photograph). SSA4470.


<09> Watson Michael D, Moreton Corbet Castle (Photograph). SSA4471.


<10> Burrow Ian, 1976, Moreton Corbet Castle (Photograph). SSA4467.


<11> Musson Chris R, 1992-May-05, CPAT 92/MB/0478 to 0479 (2 photos) (Oblique aerial photograph). SSA17101.


<12> Musson Chris R, 1992-May-05, CPAT 92/C/0752 to 0753 (2 photos) (Oblique aerial photograph). SSA17102.


<13> Musson Chris R, 1992-May-05, CPAT 92/MC08/0012 to 0013 and 0015 (3 photos) (Oblique aerial photograph). SSA17103.


<14> Various, 1982, Correspondence, 1982 (Correspondence). SSA4459.


<15> Rowley R T, 1972, The Shropshire Landscape, p124 (Monograph). SSA928.


<16> Green C, 1985-Dec, Moreton Corbet Castle (Photograph). SSA4465.


<17> Horton Wendy B, 1990/ 1991, MPP Evaluation File (TEXT). SSA20084.


<18> English Heritage, 1997, Scheduling Papers (Revised Scheduling, 07/02/1997) (Scheduled Monument notification). SSA4466.


<19> Newman J & Pevsner N, 2006, Buildings of England: Shropshire, p412 (Monograph). SSA23518.


<20> Shropshire Council, 2007-Jul-31, SA0703_011 to SA0703_013 (3 photos) Flight: 07_SA_03 (Oblique aerial photograph). SSA24872.


<21> Shropshire Council, 2008-Jul-21, SA0808_060 (1 photo) Flight: 08_SA_08 (Oblique aerial photograph). SSA25587.


<22> Shropshire Council, 2007-Jul-31, SA0703_081 (1 photo) Flight: 07_SA_03 (Oblique aerial photograph). SSA26826.


<23> Leese R, 2014, Moreton Corbet Castle: proposal for archaeological investigation of the Civil War siege site (Project design). SSA27291.


<24> Carey Giles, 2014 onwards, Comments by Giles Carey, HER compiler in HER database, 01/12/2014 (SMR comment). SSA26784.


<25> Harwood E, 2006, Moreton Corbet Castle (Article in serial). SSA28287.


<26> Mercer Eric, 2003, English Architecture to 1900: The Shropshire Experience, p.158 (Monograph). SSA23161.

Sources

[00]SSA20722 - Card index: Shropshire County Council SMR. Site and Monuments Record (SMR) cards. SMR record cards. SMR Card for PRN SA 01133.
[01]SSA4464 - Card index: Ordnance Survey. 1970. Ordnance Survey Record Card SJ52SE1. Ordnance Survey record cards. SJ52SE1.
[02a]SSA243 - Article in serial: Hogg A H A & King D J C. 1967. Masonry Castles in Wales and the Marches. Archaeologia Cambrensis. Vol 116. pp.71-132. p114.
[02]SSA4472 - Field Monument Warden Report: Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission (HBMC). 1987-Feb-17. Scheduled Monument Report on SAM 32118 (17/02/1987).
[03a]SSA110 - Monograph: Pevsner Nikolaus. 1958. Buildings of England (Shropshire). Buildings of England. p204-205.
[03]SSA4414 - List of Buildings: Department of the Environment (DoE). 1986-Oct-29. 35th List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. Vol 1328-0. List volume. p53.
[03d]SSA4462 - Volume: Anon. 1981. Archaeological Journal. Archaeological Journal. Vol 138. p44-46.
[03c]SSA4463 - Article in serial: Jones T L. 1956. Article in the Archaeological Journal. Archaeol J. Vol 113. p221.
[03e]SSA535 - Monograph: Leach F. 1891. The County Seats of Shropshire. p71-79.
[03b]SSA587 - Monograph: Colvin H M. 1978. Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1660-1840 (3rd Edition). p407-408.
[03f]SSA675 - Monograph: Stackhouse-Acton F (Mrs). 1865-1869. Castles and Old Mansions of Shropshire. p36-37.
[04]SSA4461 - Article in serial: Anon. 1900. Article in Country Life. Country Life. p366-367.
[05]SSA4460 - Leaflet: Anon. Pamphlet.
[06]SSA4469 - Photograph: Hymas Michael J. 1992. Slide, July 1992.. Colour.
[07]SSA4468 - Photograph: Burrow Ian. 1978. Moreton Corbet Castle. Colour.
[08]SSA4470 - Photograph: Watson Michael D. 1985. Moreton Corbet Castle. Colour.
[09]SSA4471 - Photograph: Watson Michael D. Moreton Corbet Castle. Colour.
[10]SSA4467 - Photograph: Burrow Ian. 1976. Moreton Corbet Castle. Colour.
[11]SSA17101 - Oblique aerial photograph: Musson Chris R. 1992-May-05. CPAT 92/MB/0478 to 0479 (2 photos). Black and White. Medium.
[12]SSA17102 - Oblique aerial photograph: Musson Chris R. 1992-May-05. CPAT 92/C/0752 to 0753 (2 photos). Colour. 35mm.
[13]SSA17103 - Oblique aerial photograph: Musson Chris R. 1992-May-05. CPAT 92/MC08/0012 to 0013 and 0015 (3 photos). Colour. Medium.
[14]SSA4459 - Correspondence: Various. 1982. Correspondence, 1982.
[15]SSA928 - Monograph: Rowley R T. 1972. The Shropshire Landscape. The Making of the English Landscape. p124.
[16]SSA4465 - Photograph: Green C. 1985-Dec. Moreton Corbet Castle. Colour. 35mm.
[17]SSA20084 - TEXT: Horton Wendy B. 1990/ 1991. MPP Evaluation File.
[18]SSA4466 - Scheduled Monument notification: English Heritage. 1997. Scheduling Papers (Revised Scheduling, 07/02/1997).
[19]SSA23518 - Monograph: Newman J & Pevsner N. 2006. Buildings of England: Shropshire. Buildings of England. p412.
[20]SSA24872 - Oblique aerial photograph: Shropshire Council. 2007-Jul-31. SA0703_011 to SA0703_013 (3 photos) Flight: 07_SA_03. Colour. Digital.
[21]SSA25587 - Oblique aerial photograph: Shropshire Council. 2008-Jul-21. SA0808_060 (1 photo) Flight: 08_SA_08. Colour. Digital.
[22]SSA26826 - Oblique aerial photograph: Shropshire Council. 2007-Jul-31. SA0703_081 (1 photo) Flight: 07_SA_03. Colour. Digital.
[23]SSA27291 - Project design: Leese R. 2014. Moreton Corbet Castle: proposal for archaeological investigation of the Civil War siege site. University of Huddersfield.
[24]SSA26784 - SMR comment: Carey Giles. 2014 onwards. Comments by Giles Carey, HER compiler in HER database. 01/12/2014.
[25]SSA28287 - Article in serial: Harwood E. 2006. Moreton Corbet Castle. English Heritage Historical Review. 1. pp.36-45.
[26]SSA23161 - Monograph: Mercer Eric. 2003. English Architecture to 1900: The Shropshire Experience. p.158.
Date Last Edited:Sep 25 2018 12:24PM