Warkworth Manor Northamptonshire


Contributed by Nicholas Cox

Warkworth Castle by Margaret Brooks

Warkworth Castle by Margaret Brooks

Warkworth manor is not mentioned in either the Domesday Book nor in the account taken of hides for the county in the reign of Henry II, perhaps because Warkworth at that time was an appendage to the manor of Banbury.

The Manor House Site lies on a southwest facing slope northwest of the village and immediately southeast of the now isolated church. The medieval manor house of Warkworth presumably stood on this site, but it was pulled down and rebuilt about 1595. The later house survived until 1806 when it was demolished.

In the 31st year of Edward L (1302) a fine was levied of two parts of the manor of Warkworth to the use of John de Lyons and his heirs. His descendants continued to hold Warkworth Manor till the reign of Richard II. Sir John de St Lyons died without issue and thus Warkworth Manor and associated lands passed to his sister Elizabeth, the wife of Sir Nicholas Chetwood.

From the Chetwoods the manor passed in marriage to the Wahuls, or Wodhulls, and in the 23d of Elizabeth, Nicholas Wodhull Esq died seized of it and by inquisition it was found that he held it of the Bishop of Lincoln al0ng with the manor of Banbury.
From this family it was carried in marriage back to the Chetwoods who sold it for fourteen thousand pounds to the family of Holman in 1629.

Two surviving illustrations and a description by Baker (Historian of Northants (1822–30) page 741) indicate that this house was a large building arranged around a central courtyard with square projecting bays on the corners. The main front had a central entrance flanked by half-round turrets the upper parts of which were glazed. The whole building was surmounted by a balustrade (Northants (1976) pages 318–22). This mediaeval structure was built at the instigation of the Holman family and it would have dominated the area for miles around.

From the Holmans it passed to the Eyres and in 1805 Francis Eyre Esq sold the manor and estate then consisting of 1073 acres by public auction to Thomas Bradford; who in 1807 sold the manor along with about 340 acres to James Smith Esq of Berkhampstead Hertfordshire.

In 1866 the manor and estate passed to the Horton family of whom John H Horton Esq was the last owner. Nothing now remains of the house apart from some uneven ground, and the whole area is now arable.

Until 1970 a terraced area was preserved in pasture (OS Record Cards) and this is visible on air photographs taken in 1947 (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1926, 3205–6). These indicate that the terrace was a large curved feature, facing south and cut back into the hillside, at least 150 meters long by 40 meters wide at its widest part.

Had Warkworth Castle not been demolished in 1806 it is conceivable that it too would have succumbed to the fire that destroy the village of Warkworth in xxxxx. This much is clear from a comment in a booklet dated 1900. ‘The Pathways of Banburyshire’ (published by Walfords of Banbury) refers to an old print that shows a four square building with crenellated turrets at each corner, much like Hanwell Castle.

On its destruction in 1806 there was a sale of materials and contents. A shield in stone in a garden at Warkworth is said to have been taken from the entrance to the castle.

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