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Record Details

HER Number:00213
Type of record:Building
Name:Eccleshall Castle


The listed and scheduled remains of Eccleshall Castle and moat. The castle was fortified in circa 1200, and occupied by the bishops of Lichfield throughout the middle ages. It was destroyed by Parliamentarians in 1646, and the existing house which now stands within the moat was built in the late 17th century. Some of the original fortifications, including a nine sided tower, still remain.

Grid Reference:SJ 8279 2956
Map Sheet:SJ82NW
Parish:Eccleshall, Stafford Borough
Map:Show location on Streetmap

Monument Type(s):

Associated Events:

  • EST1212 - A survey of moated sites in Staffordshire.
  • EST1229 - A survey of the tower and associated structures at Eccleshalll Castle, Eccleshall, Staffordshire.
  • EST157 - Archaeological excavation - FISHER 1972
  • EST158 - Archaeological excavations at Eccleshall Castle and Moat in 1973 and 1974. (NRHE Name - Eccelshall Castle)
  • EST2031 - An archaeological desk-based assessment of land adjacent to Castle Street, Eccleshall. (Ref: Report No. 213)
  • EST3551 - Archaeological excavations at Eccleshall Castle, Eccleshall, 1987-1989. (NRHE Name - Eccleshall Castle)

Protected Status:

  • Listed Building (II*) 0953/19/003: Eccleshall Castle
  • Scheduled Monument 1008801: Eccleshall Castle

Full description

Castle / Bishops Palace: Eccleshall Manor was in the hands of the Bishop of Lichfield at the time of Domesday. In circa 1200 King John gave licence to crenellate. The castle was rebuilt circa 1310 by Bishop Walter Langton. Taken by parliamentary forces before 1636. Brick south front added in 1695. Continued as an episcopal residence until 1867. Remains of defences of medieval house include a nine-sided stone tower of 14th century date, now reduced to two storeys and roofless. Enclosure bounded by a moat on the south and east side and a mere on the north and west sides. Both the mere and the moat are now dry. The flat bottomed moat measures 21 metres wide and 4 metres deep and excavations on the east arm revealed waterlogged deposits. Access to the moat platform is via a 14h century stone bridge crossing the east arm of the moat. The gatehouse is now demolished by some signs of a drawbridge. Retaining walls on the north, east and south sides of the island. At the north-east corner of the island are the remains of a 9-sided stone tower (originally 3-storeyed). There were probably towers on the other corners and one has been found in the south-east corner. There is a 19th century on the west of the island which incorporates medieval masonry. <1> <2> <3>

The castle dates from circa 1200 and belonged to the bishops of Lichfield throughout the middle ages. The castle was probably in a good state of repair throughout this period due to its continuous occupation; for example, there are records relating to the repair of the roof of the great hall in 1463. The castle was demolished by parliamentary forces in 1646. Another building was constructed on the site in the late 17th century by Bishop Lloyd. The fenestration and interior of this building were refashioned in the late 18th century. The remains of the defences of the medieval house include a nine-sided tower of 14th century date, although this now only stands to two storeys rather than three. (SB, 10-01-2005) <5>

The castle at Eccleshall is recorded as being described by one bishop as 'Moist Eccleshall, tomb of the bishops. Five of the bishops who died at the castle are buried in Holy Trinity Church to the south, while a sixth is buried within the churchyard. Queen Margaret is recorded to have sheltered there both before and after the Battle of Blore Heath (where her army was defeated), and King Charles 1st is recorded to have been entertained there twice in the mid 17th century, before the outbreak of the Civil War. (SB, 10-Jan-2005) <6>

Large-scale plans and elevations were produced as a result of survey work at the castle. (SB, 25-Feb-2004) <7>

Eccleshall Castle moated site comprises of a rectangular platform measuring circa 82 metres by 56 metres, and has an area of circa 4500 square metres. The platform is surrounded by a moat of up to 21 metres wide and at least 4 metres deep. The moat has a flat bottom and is now dry, although was probably once wet. The substantial vertical stone revetments are probably original, and the north-east corner tower also survives. The south arm of the moat has the stone revetments against both the platform and on the outer face. An impressive 17th century house with a 13-bay façade and two projecting wings, stands on the platform. The house includes medieval masonry. A small area was excavated of the castle was excavated between 1972 and 1975 by J. Fisher. (SB, 10-Jan-2005) <8>

A large-scale plan of the moat at Eccleshall castle was made during a survey of moated sites in Staffordshire in the 1980's. (SB, 10-Jan-2005) <9>

Eccleshall Castle is situated within an area of wetlands. (SB, 10-Jan-2005) <10>

Bishop Geoffrey Mushchamp obtained a royal licence to fortify a castle at Eccleshall in 1200. This was rebuilt in 1310 by Bishop Walter Langton and remained as a residence of the Bishops throughout the middle ages. The present castle was rebuilt by Bishop Lloyd in 1695 after much of the earlier castle was destroyed by Parliamentary forces during the Civil War. This later building remained as the residence of the bishops until 1867. (SB, 27-Sept-2010) <11>

Sources and further reading

---SST1472 - Written: A. E. Saunders, M.G. Finn, M. Griffiths and C.J. Chatterton (Staffordshire County Council). c.1987. The Eccleshall Castle Project.
---SST1931 - Serial: Council for British Archaeology (Edited by Brian Stanley). 1960. West Midlands Archaeological News Sheet Number 03 (1960). Page 8.
---SST270 - Published Book: Timothy Mowl and Dianne Barr. 2009. The Historic Gardens of England: Staffordshire. pages 260-1, plate 110, page 262.
---SST4820 - Graphic material: ? M S Tanner. ?. A copy of a plan of Eccleshall Castle from the Bodleian Library.
<1>SST390 - Index: Ordnance Survey. See cards. Ordnance Survey Card Index. SJ 82 NW - 1.
<2>SST1442 - Descriptive text: C. Masefield. 1930. Staffordshire. 'Staffordshire' by C. Masefield, 1930, page.
<3>SST3723 - Designation Record: Department for Culture Media and Sport / English Heritage. Ongoing-2016. Scheduled Monument Designation Documents, Scheduled Monument Consents and Section 17 Management Agreements. MPP23/ AA 91857/1 (21-Jan-1994).
<4>SST1963 - Photographic: Staffordshire County Council. 1960s onward. Staffordshire County Council Photographic Collection. various. 234-244 (1966) & 363-366 (1969).
<5>SST2107 - Serial: University of Keele. 1966. North Staffordshire Journal of Field Studies volume 6 (1966). 'The Medieval Castles of Staffordshire' by L.M. Cantor - Pages 43-44.
<6>SST2918 - Article in serial: J.C. Bates and M. Ridgway (The Evening Sentinel). 1986. Eccleshall - Tomb of the Bishops (The Evening Sentinel, 14th July 1986). 14 July 1986.
<7>SST4036 - Drawn: ?. 1970s/1980s. Eccleshall Castle: Elevations, Plans and Section Drawings. Paper/Permatrace. 1:10/1:20.
<8>SST2865 - Survey Archive: R. A. Meeson (Staffordshire County Council). 1983-1986. Staffordshire Moated Site Survey (Survey Notes).
<9>SST2925 - Drawn: R. A. Meeson. 1981-1986. Staffordshire Moated Sites Survey (Illustrations). Permatrace. 1:1000/1:500/1:200.
<10>SST3733 - Published Book: North West Wetlands Survey (Leah, Wells, Stamper, Huckerby & Welch). 1998. The Wetlands of Shropshire and Staffordshire. page 215.
<11>SST4552 - Desk Based Assessment Report: Jonathan Goodwin (Stoke-on-Trent Archaeology). 2007. Archaeological Desk-Based Assessment on Land Adjacent to Castle Street, Eccleshall. Page 3.

Related records

07666Parent of: Bridge, Eccleshall Castle Moat (Monument)
54132Parent of: Eccleshall Castle Moat (Monument)
07665Parent of: Tower, Eccleshall Castle (Building)