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Monument record MDR2610 - Bretby Castle (site of), Mount Road, Bretby

Type and Period (2)

  • (Medieval to Post Medieval - 1066 AD to 1900 AD)
  • (Medieval to Post Medieval - 1066 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

Centred SK 2936 2317, Bretby Castle (site of). (1) Permission to fortify Bretby was granted by Edward I. In 1585, the castle passed to the Stanhopes, and soon afterwards it was demolished. The extensive, mound-covered foundations seem to indicate two courts. There are the remains of a moat on the west side. (2-3) Re-surveyed at 1:2500. The published site of Bretby Castle falls on a low-lying platform overlooked by rising ground to the north and west. It is partially enclosed on these sides by the mutilated remains of a single ditch or moat. All traces of any defences on the south and east have been obliterated, and there is no evidence of any outworks. Three small rectangular enclosures at the southern end of the platform may constitute the sites of minor buildings. The whole site has been greatly disturbed by surface quarrying, and encroached upon by modern development. The impression gained, however, is of a single moated enclosure, and this in conjunction with a generally poor defensive position, implies a probable fortified manor house. (4) Report of 14.8.62 correct. 1/2500 survey revised. (5) Scheduled. The monument includes the core area of the site of Bretby Castle fortified manor and incorporates manorial remains dating from the 13th to the 17th centuries. The visible remains are those of the 16th century manor partially excavated in 1800. The remains of earlier buildings and structures will survive as buried features. The visible remains include a massive outer bank flanked on the inside by a ditch-like feature which has, in the past, been inaccurately termed a moat. Although it undoubtedly served as a boundary feature and may have had different functions at different times, in its present form the feature has been reinterpreted as a sunken driveway. This is in part due to the presence of two gateways visible at its southern end. On the inside, remains of buildings reveal that the 16th century manor was built round two courtyards, a large court to the north and another to the south. Along the south-east edge of the latter, adjacent to the south gate, are the well preserved foundations of three rectangular buildings, previously thought to be fishponds. Formerly, the manor site would have extended further to the north-east. However, although further remains, including those of a chapel, will survive beneath modern development in this area, they are not included in the scheduling as their extent and state of survival is not sufficiently understood. Bretby became a separate manor in the 13th century (in the 1230s?) and the first manor house may have been constructed at that time. In 1300 Edward I granted a licence to crenellate, and this may have been the origin of the massive outer earthworks which would have been surmounted by a castellated wall. The Bretby estate was purchased by Philip Stanhope in 1610 and the manor house subsequently demolished, reputedly to provide building materials for a new mansion house in the new Bretby Park. (6) In 1312 after the execution of friend of Edward II, Piers Gavaston, by the rebellious Lords Ordainer, John Segrave as leader of the English campaign in Galloway was made the Keeper of Nottingham Castle and the forest for life. The profits of such a position possibly help to build Bretby Castle. England, weakened by dissension between rival political fractions which mounted gradually into civil war, had to face a new Scottish leader and claimant to the throne, Robert Bruce. It was between 1310 and 1325 when Bruce and his allies made numerous attacks, first from the north and later directly from Cumbria, Bretby Castle may have been an stronghold on the Nottinghamshire and Melbourne boundaries. Bretby Castle was pulled down by Philip Stanhope in 1610. Excavation by Lord Chesterfield's steward, Mr. Burton, in 1800 showed it to be strongly fortified, built around two large courts. Ten years earlier (1790), the historian, Stebbing Shaw wrote of Bretby "...a few scattered houses are now left of to lament its former superiority…beside a castle, which was situated near the present chapel." (7)

Sources/Archives (7)

  • <1> Map: Ordnance Survey (OS). 1955. 6". 6".
  • <2> Article in serial: Channon, H. 1948. 'Notes and Queries', Derbyshire Advertiser. 19.08.49.
  • <3> Bibliographic reference: Cox, J. 1905. 'Forestry', Victoria County History, Derbyshire, Volume 1.
  • <4> Personal Observation: F1 RWE 14-AUG-62.
  • <5> Personal Observation: F2 FDC 01-SEP-66.
  • <6> Scheduling record: English Heritage. 1994. Scheduling Notification: Bretby Castle fortified manor. 23306.
  • <7> Unpublished document: Sinar, J. Bretby (unpublished notes).



Grid reference Centred SK 293 231 (200m by 215m) (Centre)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (3)

  • EDR2277
  • EDR730
  • EDR1081

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External Links (0)

Record last edited

Aug 10 2018 11:59AM

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