14th-century moated gatehouse, built by John de Haudlo and once part of a fortified manor house, set in gardens. The property, owned by the National Trust is tenanted.
In the Domesday Survey, William Lisures is in possession of the manor of Brill, which included Boarstall, and he granted it to William Fitznigel, who was perhaps a son of the forester. In 1312 Sir John de Hanlo, sheriff of Oxfordshire, got a grant of waste lands in Bernwood, and by marriage obtained the lands of Fitznigel; and from his descendants the manor of Boarstall passed through heirs female to the following families: Delapole, Jones, Reade (Sir Edmund Rede, Knt., in his will, 1487, bequeaths to his son William “the Great Horn garnished with silver and gilt, which the King gave to Nigel, a forester of Bernwood,” and which he desires his heirs never to alienate, under pain of excommunication. This venerable relic seems to be of buffalo horn, brown and veined like tortoiseshell, 2 feet 4 inches long, tipped with silver, with a leather wreath to hang about the neck. It is now possessed by the Society of Antiquaries.), Dynham, or Denham, Banastre, Lewis, and Aubrey, all of whom held the office of forester in Bernwood. It is now the property of Mr. Charles A. Aubrey of Dorton.
Boarstall Tower was a castellated mansion which Sir John de Hanlo had licence (6 Edward II. 1313) to fortify “quod possit kernellare mansum de Borstall juxta Brehull”. The only remaining portion, however, is the Perpendicular gatehouse, added in the fifteenth century— a fine specimen of the work of that period; a woodcut of it is given by Lipscomb. This massive entrance gateway stands far in front of the Tudor house, supported by two octagonal flanking towers (like the surviving gatehouse of Middleton, Norfolk), with a paved approach by a two-arched bridge over the remains of the moat, which was originally, of course, crossed by a drawbridge. There are some good moulded brick chimneys; the roof, formerly leaded, has recently been covered with copper. The interior is very gloomy, there being one large apartment on the chief floor, and some small rooms communicating by narrow passages through the walls, and by spiral staircases with groined roofs. The whole area covered by house and gardens is about three acres, surrounded by a very wide and deep moat, whereof one side has been filled up.
Boarstall was an important post during the Civil War, and was garrisoned for King Charles in 1644, under Sir William Campion, but was evacuated, and at once taken possession of by the Parliamentary garrison of Aylesbury, when, being found to be an annoyance to Oxford, Colonel Gage was sent to retake it ; this he did by bombarding the house from the adjacent church, when the place was surrendered, the owner, Lady Denham, escaping in disguise by a secret passage. In May 1645 Skippon essayed to retake it and failed, whereupon Fairfax himself attacked the place, but with no better success, losing many officers and men there.
The King came there in August of the same year. It was then the property of Lady Denham, and its defences were strengthened by a stockade outside the moat or graffe and two lines of palisades at the top of the earthen rampart. In 1645 Boarstall was the sole Royalist garrison remaining in Bucks, when, being again attacked by Fairfax, after a siege of eight weeks it had to surrender, on honourable terms. After Lady Denham’s death, Boarstall Tower went with her stepdaughter in marriage to one William Lewis, whose daughter married Sir John Aubrey of Glamorganshire. The sixth baronet of that family demolished the house, and built with its materials the Wood Farm, in the parish of Worminghall. (Castles Of England, Sir James D. Mackenzie, 1896)
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