Motte and bailey. Ditch cut across promontory.
The location of this site is important – on a promontory overlooking the Ryton Valley, next to the old Sherwood Forest, and on an ancient trackway/road. The remains of the castle are located on the north-west side of the modern town of Worksop, which grew around it.
Before the Norman conquest, the land was held by a prominent Saxon Lord, Elsi, and it is hypothesized that there may have been a fortified site at this location prior to the construction of the motte and bailey. Archaeologically this remains unknown.
The motte is flat-topped and measures 50m in diameter with a height of 10-12m, from the bottom of the ditch. There is also a ditch which is cut across the promontory. Along with the natural defences Worksop was ideally placed and naturally defendable with only minor work required to protect the site.
The dry moat ditch was spanned by a drawbridge. The drawbridge was defended by a gate tower which led to the motte. The remaining ditch measures c.10m wide to the south and west of the site. There is also a small mound, believed to be the remnants of the gate tower, measuring 10m by 15m and standing c.3m in height.
Most of the bailey is now located beneath the current town of Worksop.
There is scant information regarding the site, and this may indicate that it could have been an adulterine castle. Castles sprung up around England during the Anarchy, between the years 1138-1153 – the period of jostling for the English Crown between the Empress Matilda, the rightful heiress, and her cousin Stephen of Blois. The castles constructed during this period were later demolished under orders of Henry II, Matilda’s son, who inherited the throne after Stephen passed. A large number of these adulterine castles have been lost to history as they only survived for a short period of time, and Worksop may have, and I stress MAY HAVE, been one of them. If Worksop was not actually built as an adulterine castle, it was active during the Anarchy period and visited by King Stephen in 1161. This simple act could have been seen as the owner’s allegiance to King Stephen’s cause, or it could simply have demonstrated the King’s sourcing of Lords to join his cause. We may never know, but Henry II did know who had supported his mother and who had supported King Stephen, and many land changed hands, and castles demolished following is accession to the throne.
Worksop Castle shows archaeological remains of stone buildings, including the keep and gate tower. There is also evidence that the site held other timber buildings too. Previously, the remains of an old wall stood near the top of the motte.
During the creation of the Domesday Book, Worksop was held by Roger de Busli and it is uncertain as to whether he, or a later owner built the private chapel which once stood within its grounds.
Between 1538-1543 John Leland travelled Britain and he records the following for Worksop,
“The olde castelle, on a hill by the towne, is done downe, and scant known where it was. But I am of the opinion that the Chanons had the ruins of the castel stones to make the closure of their large waulles” (Smith, 1907).
The taking of stone from ruined castles was rampant throughout history. The stone provided ready cut and shaped building material, and many sites throughout Britain have been robbed, Worksop being no exception. There is debate as to whether the stone that Worksop Priory used did come from the Castle, or, as some believe, the stone was used in the building of the old manor house in Worksop Park.
Worksop Priory, as mentioned, was associated with the castle. As was usual during the Medieval period, Priories and Monasteries sprung up very close to, or within, the manors of the overseeing Lords. Worksop Priory was just such a site, and housed Austin Cannons.
Established in 1103 by William de Lovetot, the Priory had a much longer life than the castle, being dissolved on 15 November, 1539 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII. I will be covering the history of this Priory at a later date 😊
Worksop Castle has been held by many of the well known Norman families. Following is a rough outline of the holders of the Manor of Worksop. There is some confusion among authors as to which Gerald and Thomas Furnival were crusaders. I have placed them in what I consider to be the most appropriate sequence.
Timeline for Worksop Castle, and the Manor of Worksop,
1066 Before: Held by the Saxon Lord Elsi, son of Cashin.
1099 Roger de Busli died, and the Manor passed to his son, Roger.
11th C Castle was possibly constructed in timber by Roger de Busli.
1102/3 Manor was granted to Sir William de Lovetot, whose father had come over to England with William the Conqueror in 1066.
1103 William de Lovetot founded Worksop Priory.
* William de Lovetot died, and his son, Richard, inherited the Manor.
1161 King Stephen visited Richard de Lovetot at the site.
* Richard de Lovetot died and his son, William inherited. He married the daughter of Walter fitz Robert.
1176/1181 William de Lovetot died, and the Manor was inherited by his daughter, Maud. She married Gerard de Furnival, they had two sons, Gerard and Thomas.
1195/6 Thomas, Lord Furnival, gained a Fair and Market for the town of Worksop. He had married the daughter of Hugh le Dispenser, Joane. She became a Nun at Shaftesbury Abbey.
* Thomas, Lord Furnival died, and his son, Gerard inherited the Manor.
* Gerard died, and his son, Thomas inherited the Manor
12th C End: Possibly rebuilt in stone.
1216-1272 During: Henry III granted Thomas de Furnival permission to build a stone castle at Sheffield.
1219 Gerald de Furnival died in Jerusalem on Crusade.
* Both became Knights Templar and fought in the Holy Land on Crusades. Gerard de Furnival fought alongside Richard I at the Battle of Acre. The elder son Thomas, died in the Holy Land and his brother, Gerard, bought his remains home which were then buried in Worksop priory.
1219 The manor passed to Gerald’s brother, Thomas.
* “…. in the three years before his departure on crusade in 1240, Thomas had been an active participant in England’s political scene. He is listed as a witness to the 1237 Treaty of York, which confirmed rights over territories between the kings of England and Scotland. This is also the only evidence of a prior connection between Thomas and Simon de Montfort, as the latter also appeared as a named witness. Thomas was, then, beginning to make his mark in kingdom-wide affairs by 1237.51 A year later, in 1238, King Henry III gave his assent to the marriage of Thomas’s eldest daughter to Roger de Mowbray II, heir to one of the great Yorkshire baronies.52 Furthermore, the Liberate Rolls reveal that in 1239 Thomas was provided with 40 marks for guardianship of the castle of the Peak between 8 February and 11 June.” (Doherty, 2021).
* Here is part of the stanza which describes Thomas Furnival’s tomb at Worksop Priory;
“When Sr. Thomas was slayne for Christes sake
His broder came home Gerard agayne,
And that Molde ther moder grevously gan take
That his bones emong hathen shuld be lane,
And made him retorne without more disdeyne
Againe to the Holy Lande, and his bones home brought,
As it was Goddes will; that him dere boght.
Then tumulate here in Nottinghamshire,
At Wyrksoppe, the north syde of this Mynster,
With his helm on his hede will enquire
With precious stones sometime, that were sett sere,
And a noble charbuncle on him doth he bare
On his hede to see they may who so will
Of my writing witness for to fulfill.”
1272-1307 During: Thomas, 1st Lord Furnival, was a favourite of Edward I.
1298 Thomas de Furnival, Commissioner to Edward I, raised knights from the county, to fight against the Scots.
1301 Thomas de Furnival, Commissioner to Edward I, raised knights from the county, to fight against the Scots.
1307 Thomas de Furnival attended Parliament which was held at Carlisle.
1334 Thomas de Furnival died and his son, Thomas, 2nd Lord Furnival, inherited. He fought in battles in Scotland, Aquitaine and Gascony.
1339 Thomas, 2nd Lord Furnival died, and he was succeeded by his son Thomas, 3rd Lord Furnival, also known as Thomas the Hasty.
1346 Thomas, 3rd Lord Furnival, fought with Edward II at the Battle of Crécy.
1366 Thomas, 3rd Lord Furnival, died and was succeeded by his brother William, Lord Furnival.
1383 William de Furnival died, and the Manor was inherited by his daughter Joan, who married Thomas Neville.
* When Thomas Neville died, his daughter Maud, 5th Baroness Neville, married Sir John Talbot, also known as Johanne Talbot de Furnyvall.
1409 John Talbot was summoned to Parliament.
1412 John Talbot de Furnyvall became Lord Justice of Ireland, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.
1413-1422 John Talbot de Furnyvall fought with King Henry in France.
1429 Whilst fighting with King Henry in France, John Talbot de Furnyvall was captured and held prisoner by Joan of Arc’s French forces. A deal was made between the English and the French where John Talbot de Furnyvall was exchanged for a French prisoner.
1442 John Talbot de Furnyvall was created Earl of Shrewsbury.
“Then shall our names
Familiar in their mouths as household words –
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester –
Be in their flowing cup freshly remembered.”
1453 John Talbot de Furnyvall was killed at Chatillon. He had fought in approximately 40 battles during his life. Legend states that his sword was discovered in the River Dordan and inscribed – SUM TALBOTI MIIII CXLIII [Defeat the enemy].
* John Talbot de Furnyvall was succeeded by his son, John, 2nd Earl of Shrewsbury.
1460 There was a skirmish at Worksop during the Wars of the Roses. William of Worcester informs us that,
“The Duke of York, with the Earl of Salisbury, and many thousand men were going from London to York in December, 1460, when a portion of his van, as is supposed, or perhaps the scouts, to the number of …. Were cut off by the people of the Duke of Somerset, at Worksop….”
1460 John, 2nd Earl of Shrewsbury, was killed during the Battle of Northampton, fighting on the side of Lancaster, during the Wars of the Roses.
1460 John, 2nd Earl of Shrewsbury was succeeded by his eldest son, John, 3rd Earl of Shrewsbury. There is not a lot of information regarding this earl, but what is recorded states
“He was more devoted to literature and the muses than to politics and arms” (Hearne 1774).
He had married Catherin, daughter of Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham
1473 John, 3rd Earl of Shrewsbury died and was succeeded by his son, George, 4th Earl of Shrewsbury. He had married Anne, the daughter of William Lord Hastings.
1530 Cardinal Wolsey visited George, 4th Earl of Shrewsbury at Worksop.
1531 George, 4th Earl of Shrewsbury died, and was succeeded by his son, Francis, 5th Earl of Shrewsbury who had married. He was described by Henry VIII,
“To our right, trusty and right well-beloved councilor the Earl of Shrewsbury, our lieutenant…He is a gentleman, wise and of good courage”. (Halliwell-Phillipps, 1848).
1539 Leland: “The olde castelle, on a hill by the towne, is done downe, and scant known where it was.”
1541 Francis, 5th Earl of Shrewsbury, obtained Worksop Priory during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. He held both the castle and the Priory.
1560 Francis, 5th Earl of Shrewsbury, died, and he was succeeded by his son, George, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury who had married Gertrude, daughter of Thomas Lord Ros and Earl of Rutland
1583 Mary, Queen of Scots was held, by the 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, in the new Worksop Manor House built by the Talbot family in Worksop Park.
1590 George, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, died, and he was succeeded by his son, Gilbert, 7th Earl of Shrewsbury
16th C By: Castle demolished. No longer visible.
1603 March: The Proclamation of the Succession of King James VI of Scotland, following the death of Queen Elizabeth I, was signed by Gilbert, 7th Earl of Shrewsbury.
1603 April: King James VI arrived in Worksop, and rested overnight after a days hunting in the park.
1616 Gilbert, 7th Earl of Shrewsbury, died and his brother Edward Talbot, 8th Earl of Shrewsbury, succeeded him.
1617 Edward Talbot, 8th Earl of Shrewsbury, died without issue. His lands and Manors passed to a distant relative, one of the daughters of the 7th Earl, Lady Alethea Gilbert, whose Godmother was Queen Elizabeth I. She had married Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel, Surrey and Norfolk, Earl Marshall of England.
1617 The Manor passed to the Howard Family, the Dukes of Norfolk.
1701 Lady Mary Howard appointed Joseph Banks as Steward of her Manors.
1837 Until: The manor remained in the hands of the Howard family.
1839 The 12th Duke of Norfolk sold the Manor for £350,000 to the Duke of Newcastle.
1970’s Rubbish was removed from the ditch.
1974 Field Investigation.
(A majority of information relating to the genealogy and families for this timeline was sourced in White, 1875).
Worksop Castle has had a very interesting past in relation to the families, Lords, and Knights Templar, who have had the honour to hold its lands. Associated with Kings and Queens, famous Battles and moments that have changed the history of Britain, as well as the world in relation to the Crusades. Is she an adulterine castle? We may never know. Let’s hope that further archaeological investigations can answer some of the more burning questions we have about her important role in British and world history.
I will leave you with one very interesting, and very relevant, piece of information, which may be witnessed at the Coronation of King Charles III tomorrow…..
“The Lord of the Manor of Worksop, since the time of Henry VIII, has had the right to support the Sovereign’s right arm should he so require”, this is whilst the newly crowned Monarch holds both scepters (Tanner , 1937).
References & Bibliography
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Cantor. L. 1983. The Medieval Parks of England. A Gazetteer. Loughborough University.
Creighton. O.H. 1998. Castles and Landscapes: An Archaeological Survey of Yorkshire and the East Midlands. PhD Thesis University of Leicester. Pp. 234-6, 489.
Doherty. J. 2021. Commemorating the Crusading Past in Late Medieval England: The Worksop Priory Tabula. The English Historical Review, Volume 136, Issue 581, August 2021, Pages 809–835, https://doi.org/10.1093/ehr/ceab275
Eddison. E. 1854. History of Worksop. Longman & Co.
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Worksop Priory Gatehouse. Gatehouse_to_Worksop_Priory_-_geograph.org.uk_-_3184172. By Gatehouse to Worksop Priory by John M, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=114969605