Castle crenellated in 1301 by Walter de Langton, Bishop of Lichfield. The existing building, early 14th century and now used as a barn, was the great hall of the castle and originally two storeys. The upper room floor has gone but the open roof displays magnificent timber work of tie-bean construction. The building has a stone exterior. (Pastscape)
Privately owned, not open to the public.
Edward II. deprived Bishop Langton of Thorpe, and Aymer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke, then had it, but surrendered it to Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, at whose execution Pembroke obtained a fresh grant of the castle and manor. Next, the Hollands possessed these, and from them they passed to John, Lord Lovell. Thorpe must have been a fortress of importance during the Wars of the Roses, and must have sustained a siege, too, since one of the Paston Letters (No. 162), written from London six days after the battle of Towton, giving an account of that battle, adds: “Thorp Waterfield is yielded”; which seems to show that it was tenable and in strength at that time. Confiscated then, the estate was granted to Anne, Duchess of Exeter, from whom it next came to Thomas, Marquis of Dorset. Richard III. restored it to the Lovells, but after the battle of Stoke, where Francis, Viscount Lovell, fought against Henry VII., Thorpe was given by that King to his mother, Margaret, Countess of Richmond, who is called “the first female author in England”: after her death, in 1509, it reverted to the Crown until 5 Edward VI., when it was granted to Sir W. Cecil, Lord Burleigh, in whose family it remained until it passed by exchange to the Powis family, represented by the present (1896) owner, Lord Lilford.
Bishop Langton’s licence is dated 29 Edward I., and what still exists would belong to his “sumptuous mansion”. There is “what may have been a great chamber, now converted into a barn” (Murray), and a fine fourteenth century gable chimney projects from the N. wall, while the moats and foundations can be clearly traced. The building was two storeys in height. A porch on the E. side was taken down in 1825, and a chimney at the S. end has been removed; but there remains a remarkable example of an early skew arch spanning the brook over the road, which is of Langton’s date. (Castles Of England, Sir James D. Mackenzie, 1896)
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