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Monument details

HER Number:TR 13 NE 133
Type of record:Listed Building
Name:SALTWOOD CASTLE

Summary

Grade I listed building. Main construction periods 1000 to 1939

Summary from record TR 13 NE 7:

The manor of Saltwood was granted to the see of Canterbury in 1026. Archbishop Lanfranc took Saltwood into his personal possession in 1086; it apparently remained the property of the archbishops for much of the Middle Ages. It is possible that a ringwork castle was constructed on the site of a manorial establishment at the time of Domesday. The square towers of the inner ward probably date from c.1160 and the round towers of the outer ward or barbican are 14th century. The arms of Archbishop Courtney distinguish the great gatehouse built when he made the castle his chief residence from 1382.

The castle gained notoriety as the refuge for the murderers of Becket before and after his martyrdom. In 1540 the Castle was conveyed to the Crown but it soon declined into a farm. There were restorations in the 1880s which added to the gatehouse to make it into a dwelling, and the later hall was largely re-worked by Philip Tilden in the 1930s. The battlements have been restored.


Grid Reference:TR 16174 35915
Map Sheet:TR13NE
Parish:SALTWOOD, SHEPWAY, KENT

Monument Types

  • SITE (Early Medieval or Anglo-Saxon to Modern - 1000 AD to 1939 AD)
  • CASTLE (Early Medieval or Anglo-Saxon to Modern - 1026 AD? to 2050 AD)
Protected Status:Scheduled Monument KENT 73; Listed Building (I) 1344198: SALTWOOD CASTLE

Full description

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The following text is from the original listed building designation:

TR 13 NE SALTWOOD CASTLE ROAD (East side)
4/61 Saltwood Castle 27.8.52 GV I
Castle. Largely ruinous. Core of inner curtain wall C12 (or possibly C11). Rest C12, C13 and C14. Late C14 work by Archbishop Courtenay. 1385 extension to gatehouse attributed to Henry Yevele (Harvey, in M. Wood, The English Medieval House, 1981 edition). Restoration and additions of 1880s by F. Beeston, and by Philip Tilden in 1930s. Ragstone. Roughly triangular outer bailey surrounded by curtain wall, with circular bastions and with north-west barbican. Roughly oval inner bailey impinges into south-west corner of triangle, incorporating rectangular bastions and garderobe towers, east gate-tower and ruins of principal domestic buildings. These last comprise walls of a first- floor hall which used south wall of bailey as its long south wall; outline of a further range including porch, to west of it, also parallel to wall; to west of this, abutting bailey wall at right-angles, another first-floor hall, rebuilt by Tilden; and bases of walls of a chapel adjoining north-west corner of second hall at right-angles, almost abutting west curtain wall and, with second hall, enclosing small garden in south-west corner of bailey. Vestigial evidence of other inner bailey buildings abutting north curtain wall. Inner bailey: curtain walls: complete. 2 rectangular garderobe towers projecting outwards to northand west. 2 larger rectangular towers projecting into the inner bailey, one close to each garderobe tower with pilaster buttresses to outside of curtain wall. Pointed-arched doorway to base of each. 2 rectangular towers projecting beyond curtain wall to south, both with (possibly inserted) lancets; that towards west end lying to south of the second first-floor hall, possibly serving as, or adapted to, solar, and incorporating stairs between hall, "solar" and rampart walks. Small moulded pointed-arched window between stairs and hall, possibly late C14. Tower towards east end with staircase leading to rampart walk and also to landings, with 2 pointed-arched doorways and windows to each of first and second floors of former range to west of first (east) hall. Garderobe within wall thickness. Apparent gateway, blocked, to east of centre of tower, with secondary, squinted, access from west end of hall. East hall: late C13 or early C14. Battered plinth. 3 ground-floor windows to north with almost rounded heads, morticed for bars. 3 pointed-arched first-floor windows to north, 3 to south and one to-east, with restored cusped intersecting tracery and hoodmoulds with label-stops. Internal hoodmoulds with roll-and-fillet moulding linked to blank arcading between windows. Similarly-moulded continuous string linking cills. Corbels for hall floor. Pointed-arched doorway to west end of north wall. West hall: first floor largely by Tilden in a C14 style, formerly late C14, over possibly C13 undercroft. Chamfered stone plinth continuous with that to late C14 chapel ruins to west. Moulded stone string below former parapet or battlements. 2-storey rectangular "porch" to north end of east wall with access to undercroft and via stone steps to hall. 4-centred arched doorway to hall, with broach stops, to south end of west wall, up flight of external stone steps from garden. Plain-chamfered pointed- arched north doorway with broach stops to undercroft. Undercroft: down 8 steps. 8 narrow bays. Pointed-arched tunnel vault with plain-chamfered ribs dying into walls. Chapel: late C14. East end of south wall remains almost to full height. Ogee, moulded trefoil-headed piscina to first floor with pointed- arched doorway to west of it leading to first-floor passage corbelled out in re-entrant angle between chapel and hall. Fragment of moulded stone cornice to ground-floor room of chapel. East gatehouse: West section: probably late C13 or early C14, with C19 additions to east and west. Rectangular. 4 low storeys. Battlemented. One rectangular west window to each storey. Window in place of former west gateway. C19 sections 2 low storeys, battlemented, with stone mullioned and transomed windows. East section: late C14. Built out over former moat. Close-set circular twin towers of 2 tall stages, rising above earlier tower. Each has chamfered stone plinth, chamfered string between stages and moulded string beneath battlements. Deep machicolations to battlemented central section. Restored trefoil-headed lancets to each tower. 2 trefoil-headed lancets under machicolations and one C15 six-light stone mullioned and transomed window with hoodmould to each of 2 upper floors. Pointed-arched plain-chamfered gateway set in shallow rectangular recess, up 8 steps, between towers. Shields with arms of Archbishop Courtenay and Canterbury above recess. Rectangular garderobe towers to rear (west) of twin towers, discharging into former moat and connected to earlier west section of gatehouse. Interior: only partly inspected. 2-bay vault to west section with broad chamfered ribs dying into walls. Portcullis grooves. Quadripartite vault to east section with moulded ribs, springing from wall shafts with moulded capitals and bases. Hexagonal guard-rooms. Garderobe shutes remain. Outer bailey: virtually continuous late C14 curtain wall with 3 circular bastions. Fourth bastion, to south-west, and part of south curtain wall, formerly linked to rest and to inner bailey wall but now separate (see Item 4/ ). Barbican to north-west side of bailey. Rectangular. Most of upper storey missing. Ground floor spanned by three arches, those towards centre and west with portcullis grooves. Chamfered 4-centred arches with broach stops to outer west east faces. Castle formerly moated. Probably ruined by earthquake in 1580. Owned alternately by Christchurch, Canterbury and by lay owners. Murder of Thomas a Becket said to have been planned here (1170). Scheduled Ancient Monument (uninhabited parts). See also Item 4/62. (Country Life 20.11.1942, 27.11.42 and 4.12.42. J. Newman, B.O.E. Series North-East and East Kent, 1983)
Listing NGR: TR1617635915

Description from record TR 13 NE 7:
[TR 16103590] Saltwood Castle [NR] (Remains of) (1)

Saltwood Castle - c.1160 to C15th, ruined in 1580, (see plan AO/LP/62/49 (5)) with C19th and C20th additions. The uninhabited parts are scheduled. (2-6)

Saltwood Castle as described above. In good condition. (Divorced survey at 1/1250: Earthworks). (7)

No change. (8)

Saltwood Castle, Castle Road. Largely ruinous. Core of inner curtain wall C12th (or possibly C11th). Rest C12th, C13th and C14th. Bastions and Curtain Wall about 10 metres South-East of Saltwood Castle Grade I. South-west bastion and part of south curtain wall of outer bailey. Late 14th century. Lower courses possibly earlier. (9)

Romantically secluded in its bower of trees, Saltwood is a castle that readily rouses romantic stories but not one that the student of architectural history can approach with confidence. It was taken into the personal possession of Archbishop Lanfranc after the Conquest, and appears to have remained episcopal property. The great gatehouse bears the arms of Archbishop Courteney, who began to make the castle his chief residence in 1382. However, for long periods Saltwood was in lay hands, such as at the time of Domesday, and in the mid 12th century, when both owners were supposed to have fortified Saltwood. Nothing can be dated to the 11th century, nor is there any proof that the curtain wall and towers of the inner bailey are of the 12th century. The outer bailey is the work of Archbishop Courteney. It was not a naturally defensible site, although the ground falls fairly steeply towards the south. In spite of the moat around the inner bailey and in spite of Courtenay's proud tower, Saltwood would soon have fallen to a determined attacker. The castle was first mentioned in 1163. It was dismantled in 1175 by Henry II as the Pipe Rolls mention the throwing down of the motte, (12) and the south wall (15) being demolished. At the NW, through the four-centred arch of the barbican, of c.1383, one entres the outer bailey, of the early 13th century, roughly a triangle with round angle towers with arrow-loops, and intermediate curtain walling a great deal ruined except at the south corner. On the west side, Courtenay's gatehouse tower, of c.1385 (17), extends the earlier gatehouse in the inner bailey forward over the moat. The two-bay vault of the entrance passage was restored in 1885 by F Beeston, whose additions to the back of the gatehouse `made it into a dwelling' the inner ward of c.1160 (16) has walls which are complete. On the south side of this the moat became a full-scale lake, formed by damming the end of the valley with a bank of earth. There are two high, square towers on the south wall, three further towers on the west, north and east sides. These three have the peculiarity that they project internally, leaving no mark on the outside of the walls except a pair of shallow buttresses. Datable features are absent from them all, except the entrance arch of the gatehouse tower. The arch is pointed, a 14th century form, and there is a portcullis groove. The domestic ranges lie against the south wall of the inner bailey, and is remarkable in that it includes two halls. The earlier hall at the east end is of c.1300, and was raised on an undercroft. Buildings further west, date to Archbiship Courtenay's time including the second hall which lies on a pointed tunnel-vaulted undercroft. The hall itself is largely the work of Philip Tilden in the 1930s. Courtenay's chapel is razed. (10-18)

Saltwood Castle was visited by the Battle and District Historical Society on 24 June 1959. (19)

The manor of Saltwood was granted to the see of Canterbury in 1026. Archbishop Lanfranc took Saltwood into his personal possession in 1086; it apparently remained the property of the archbishops for much of the Middle Ages. It is possible that a ringwork castle was constructed on the site of a manorial establishment at the time of Domesday. The square towers of the inner ward probably date from c.1160 and the round towers of the outer ward or barbican are 14th century. The arms of Archbishop Courtney distinguish the great gatehouse built when he made the castle his chief residence from 1382.
The castle gained notoriety as the refuge for the murderers of Becket before and after his martyrdom. In 1540 the Castle was conveyed to the Crown but it soon declined into a farm. There were restorations in the 1880s which added to the gatehouse to make it into a dwelling, and the later hall was largely re-worked by Philip Tilden in the 1930s. The battlements have been restored. (40)

Geophysical survey. Magnetometry identified an area of possible pits in the outer bailey, while resistivity revealed a possible structure in the inner bailey. The effectiveness of the resistivity may have been affected by heavy showers prior to the survey, thus saturating the soil and reducing the water content gradient between archaeological features and natural soil. (41)


English Heritage, List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest (Map). SKE16160.

Not Given (Collection). SKE6508.

PLAN OF SALTWOOD CASTLE (Photograph). SKE1398.

<1> OS 6" 1961 (OS Card Reference). SKE48369.

<2> Country Life 92 1942 986-9 plan illus (C Hassey) (OS Card Reference). SKE39462.

<3> Country Life 27-NOV-1942 1034-7 (OS Card Reference). SKE39420.

<4> Country Life 4-DEC-1942 1082-5 (OS Card Reference). SKE39438.

<5> Archaeol Journ 86 1929 309-10 plan (R Davies) (OS Card Reference). SKE37285.

<6> AM Eng and Wales 1961 59 (MOW) (OS Card Reference). SKE33016.

<7> F1 ASP 26-APR-1963 (OS Card Reference). SKE42301.

<8> F2 ASP 01-DEC-1969 (OS Card Reference). SKE43069.

<9> DOE (HHR) Dist of Shepway Kent 15 May 1986 40-41 (OS Card Reference). SKE40345.

<10> Country Life 20-NOV-1942, 27-NOV-1942 and 4-DEC-1942 (OS Card Reference). SKE39414.

<11> Bldgs of Eng - North East and East Kent 1983 441-443 (J Newman) (OS Card Reference). SKE37672.

<12> JBAA 20 1914 195-201 (AHH Murrey) (OS Card Reference). SKE44901.

<13> VCH Kent 1 (ed W Page) 1908 420-21 (IC Gould) (OS Card Reference). SKE50820.

<14> The Castles of Great Britain 1953 140 (S Toy) (OS Card Reference). SKE50258.

<15> The English Castle 1936 105 (H Braun) (OS Card Reference). SKE50340.

<16> Norman Castles in Britain 1973 306 (DF Renn) (OS Card Reference). SKE47673.

<17> Castellarium Anglicanum I 1983 233 (DJ Cathcart King) (OS Card Reference). SKE38611.

<18> English Medieval House 1965 157 (M Wood) (OS Card Reference). SKE41653.

<19> JBAA 1 1937 130 139 142 (H Braun) (OS Card Reference). SKE44854.

<20> Trans Battle Hist Soc 8 1959 22-23 (OS Card Reference). SKE50631.

<21> A Handbook of Kent's Defences 1540-1945 1977 38 (D Bennett) (OS Card Reference). SKE32807.

<22> The Castles of England 1897 35-38 (J Mackenzie) (OS Card Reference). SKE50257.

<23> Some Account of Dom Archit in Eng 3 1851-59 307-8 (TH Turner JH Parker) (OS Card Reference). SKE49500.

<24> Buck's Antiquities 1 1774 140 (S and N Buck) (OS Card Reference). SKE38401.

<25> The Builder 49 1885 254 (OS Card Reference). SKE50157.

<26> Hist and Topo Survey of the Co Kent 3 1778-99 404-6 (E Hasted) (OS Card Reference). SKE43777.

<27> Castles and Cannon A Study of Early Artillery Fortificat in Eng 1960 12 20 (BH St J O'Neil) (OS Card Reference). SKE38624.

<28> The Gentleman's Mag Lib Topog Hist 2 1802 1089-90 (OS Card Reference). SKE50351.

<29> A Saunter through Kent 23 (C Igglesden) (OS Card Reference). SKE32876.

<30> Wanderings of an Antiquary 1854 121-2 (T Wright) (OS Card Reference). SKE51268.

<31> The Antiquarian 1 No.2 1871 24 (OS Card Reference). SKE49934.

<32> Country Life 104 9 1948 574 (OS Card Reference). SKE39378.

<33> Country Life 10 238 34 (OS Card Reference). SKE39374.

<34> Antiquaries of England and Wales 3 1787 109-12 (F Grose) (OS Card Reference). SKE33269.

<35> Biblog Topog Brit 1 1780-90 6 Pt 2 63 (OS Card Reference). SKE37656.

<36> Field report for monument TR 13 NE 7 - April, 1963 (Bibliographic reference). SKE5329.

<37> Field report for monument TR 13 NE 7 - December, 1969 (Bibliographic reference). SKE5330.

<38> [BODIAM CASTLE, SALTWOOD CASTLE, LYMPNE CASTLE] (Collection). SKE6493.

<39> Not applicable, SMR Kent uncatalogued index entry, R Le Gear-Well at Saltwood Castle (Kent Underground Research Group Research Report 6 1989) p.69 (Miscellaneous Material). SKE6440.

<40> Victor Smith and Andrew Saunders, 2001, Kent's Defence Heritage (Unpublished document). SKE6956.

<41> Archaeology South-East, 2009, Results From an Integrated Geophysical Survey at Saltwood Castle, Kent (Unpublished document). SKE16576.

Sources and further reading

Cross-ref. Source description
---Photograph: PLAN OF SALTWOOD CASTLE. OS55/F105/2. Black and White. Negative.
---Map: English Heritage. List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest.
---Collection: Not Given.
<1>OS Card Reference: OS 6" 1961.
<2>OS Card Reference: Country Life 92 1942 986-9 plan illus (C Hassey).
<3>OS Card Reference: Country Life 27-NOV-1942 1034-7.
<4>OS Card Reference: Country Life 4-DEC-1942 1082-5.
<5>OS Card Reference: Archaeol Journ 86 1929 309-10 plan (R Davies).
<6>OS Card Reference: AM Eng and Wales 1961 59 (MOW).
<7>OS Card Reference: F1 ASP 26-APR-1963.
<8>OS Card Reference: F2 ASP 01-DEC-1969.
<9>OS Card Reference: DOE (HHR) Dist of Shepway Kent 15 May 1986 40-41.
<10>OS Card Reference: Country Life 20-NOV-1942, 27-NOV-1942 and 4-DEC-1942.
<11>OS Card Reference: Bldgs of Eng - North East and East Kent 1983 441-443 (J Newman).
<12>OS Card Reference: JBAA 20 1914 195-201 (AHH Murrey).
<13>OS Card Reference: VCH Kent 1 (ed W Page) 1908 420-21 (IC Gould).
<14>OS Card Reference: The Castles of Great Britain 1953 140 (S Toy).
<15>OS Card Reference: The English Castle 1936 105 (H Braun).
<16>OS Card Reference: Norman Castles in Britain 1973 306 (DF Renn).
<17>OS Card Reference: Castellarium Anglicanum I 1983 233 (DJ Cathcart King).
<18>OS Card Reference: English Medieval House 1965 157 (M Wood).
<19>OS Card Reference: JBAA 1 1937 130 139 142 (H Braun).
<20>OS Card Reference: Trans Battle Hist Soc 8 1959 22-23.
<21>OS Card Reference: A Handbook of Kent's Defences 1540-1945 1977 38 (D Bennett).
<22>OS Card Reference: The Castles of England 1897 35-38 (J Mackenzie).
<23>OS Card Reference: Some Account of Dom Archit in Eng 3 1851-59 307-8 (TH Turner JH Parker).
<24>OS Card Reference: Buck's Antiquities 1 1774 140 (S and N Buck).
<25>OS Card Reference: The Builder 49 1885 254.
<26>OS Card Reference: Hist and Topo Survey of the Co Kent 3 1778-99 404-6 (E Hasted).
<27>OS Card Reference: Castles and Cannon A Study of Early Artillery Fortificat in Eng 1960 12 20 (BH St J O'Neil).
<28>OS Card Reference: The Gentleman's Mag Lib Topog Hist 2 1802 1089-90.
<29>OS Card Reference: A Saunter through Kent 23 (C Igglesden).
<30>OS Card Reference: Wanderings of an Antiquary 1854 121-2 (T Wright).
<31>OS Card Reference: The Antiquarian 1 No.2 1871 24.
<32>OS Card Reference: Country Life 104 9 1948 574.
<33>OS Card Reference: Country Life 10 238 34.
<34>OS Card Reference: Antiquaries of England and Wales 3 1787 109-12 (F Grose).
<35>OS Card Reference: Biblog Topog Brit 1 1780-90 6 Pt 2 63.
<36>Bibliographic reference: Field report for monument TR 13 NE 7 - April, 1963.
<37>Bibliographic reference: Field report for monument TR 13 NE 7 - December, 1969.
<38>Collection: [BODIAM CASTLE, SALTWOOD CASTLE, LYMPNE CASTLE].
<39>Miscellaneous Material: Not applicable. SMR Kent uncatalogued index entry. R Le Gear-Well at Saltwood Castle (Kent Underground Research Group Research Report 6 1989) p.69.
<40>Unpublished document: Victor Smith and Andrew Saunders. 2001. Kent's Defence Heritage.
<41>Unpublished document: Archaeology South-East. 2009. Results From an Integrated Geophysical Survey at Saltwood Castle, Kent.

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