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Site record MDR4456 - Mackworth Castle (remains of), Ashbourne Road, Mackworth

Type and Period (3)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

[SK 31293780] Mackworth Castle (Remains of). (1) The Rev. C Kelly gives a detailed history of the Mackworth family and their connection with the castle. In his article, written in 1889, the original Deed of Conveyance, dated 16th June 1655, is given in full, by which the estate passed from Sir Thomas Mackworth to Sir John Curzon. At this point the mansion house had already become a ruin. Kelly states it is not known how or when the castle was demolished but he argues that 'According to the tradition on the village the castle was demolished in the civil wars...'. All that remained of the castle at this point was a portion of the grand gateway erected a little before 1500. Kelly noted the two large contiguous quadrangular plots in the field adjoining the west side of the gateway and argued that they indicted courtyards that once surrounded the castle and that fragments of rubble were still discernable in the ridges of the outer boundaries. (2) The Rev. Cox, writing in 1907, says that nothing of Mackworth Castle has remained for a long time save the fine gateway, dating from the time of Henry VII. In the field to the west of the gateway the outlines of two large quadrangluar courts can be traced. There is no evidence of any moat or adjacent earthworks, nor is there any record of a castle here before the end of the 14th century. (3) In his article, written in 1911, G Bailey argues against the presence of a castle at Mackworth at all. He suggests that the only way of accounting for the fact that just the gatehouse survives is that a castle never existed, and rather that the site represents the remains of a 'rambling' half-timbered mansion. He explains that the terraced platforms present in the adjacent field that Kelly had described as courtyards were actually the remains of 'large buildings, in two blocks'. These platforms were measured at 118ft by 51ft and at 115ft by 96ft. He argues that this indicates the presence of a large building, probably constructed from plaster and wood, which 'had been forsaken by its owners, and thus fell to decay' and subsequently completely disappeared when it was taken down. Bailey notes that the gatehouse could never have been part of a fortified castle as the walls were of no strength and believes the idea of its ever being intended for defensive purposes untenable. He also states that the idea of the rest of the castle being demolished by Cromwell and Sir John Gell is debatable as the' Mackworths of that day were opposed to the Parliament' and the gatehouse itself shows no sign of ill-use from an attack. He instead puts forward the idea that the now demolished manor house had had a castellated gatehouse to the entrance of its grounds. (4) In 1979 Pevsner notes that only the front wall of the gatehouse survives which was erected between 1495 and 1500. (5) Extensive foundations are visible on A.P's at 'A' SK 31353794 and possibly at 'B' SK 31273801. Three sides of a rectangular earthwork can be traced at 'C' SK 31263786. (6-8) Structural remains, surely of a castle gatehouse, survive at SK 31333783; see G.P's A0/66/28 1 & 2. Lower lying amorphous building sites at A & B are on terraced platforms with drainage ditches, and C is a rectangular, ditched platform adjoining the road, obviously a farmstead enclosure; none are related to the castle and indicate only the contraction of Mackworth village. There are no surviving earthworks. (9) The front and side walls of a two-storeyed, ashlar gatehouse built c. 1495-1500, are all that remains of Mackworth Castle and are now grade I listed. (10) A Tudor period gateway built between 1495-1500 is described as remaining with rectangular courts visible as earthworks on aerial photographs to the west. (11) The scheduling extended to the north and west of Castle Farm and extended down to Mackworth Brook where earthworks were present to a height of 0.75m. These include two large building platforms: one to the west of the farm and one to the north. To the east of the northernmost one are other possible platforms, and in the southern part of this group is a courtyard arrangement with the standing remains of the gatehouse forming the southern range. (12)

Sources/Archives (12)

  • <1> Map: Ordnance Survey (OS). 1955. 6".
  • <2> Article in serial: Kerry, C. 1889. 'Mackworth: its Castle and its owners', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 11, pp. 1-8. pp 1-8.
  • <3> Bibliographic reference: Cox, J. 1905. 'Ancient Earthworks', The Victoria County History, Derbyshire, Volume 1. p 384. p 384.
  • <4> Article in serial: Bailey, G. 1911. 'Mackworth Castle', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Vol. 33, pp 205-208, illust.. pp 205-208.
  • <5> Bibliographic reference: Pevsner, N. 1979. The Buildings of England: Derbyshire. 2nd ed., revised. p 270.
  • <6> Scheduling record: Ministry of Works. 1961. Ancient Monuments of England and Wales.
  • <7> Aerial Photograph: 1957. A.P's F 21/58/RAF/2315/0081-2, Nov. 1957; 541/481//006-7, 1950.
  • <8> Aerial Photograph: St.Joseph: AP JE 123, 30.6.52.
  • <9> Personal Observation: F1 FRH 24-OCT-66.
  • <10> Listed Building File: Historic England. 2011. The National Heritage List for England. List entry number 1158635.
  • <11> Index: TPAT. 2295. 2295.
  • <12> Scheduling record: English Heritage. 1999. Scheduling Notification. 29959.



Grid reference Centred SK 3133 3783 (10m by 10m) Centre

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (1)

  • EDR1368

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Record last edited

Aug 14 2023 7:47PM

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