Titchmarsh Castle Titchmarsh Castle

The Lovells

Minster Lovell Hall

Old Wardour Castle

Other Lovell Castles

Francis, Viscount Lovell und Sir Thomas Lovell

The Great Lord Lovell?

The Lovells of Titchmarsh first held only a few estates in England. Over time and as the result of several very fortunate marriages, they acquired considerable estates all over England. Three places in particular are connected with the family, Minster Lovell (Oxfordshire), Old Wardour Castle (Wiltshire) and Titchmarsh (Northamptonshire), the place the family was named after to differentiate them from other families of that name, as for example the Lovels of Castle Cary.

The first Lovell residence I visited was, unsurprisingly, the place that is most obviously connected with the family, Minster Lovell Hall. Some years later, in 2005, I also went to see Old Wardour Castle. Both are reasonably well-known, if ruinous, castles and today under the care of English Heritage.

It is perhaps not surprising that Titchmarsh was the last of the main residences I visited. Unlike in Wardour and Minster Lovell Titchmarsh castle has completely disappeared.  

Did Francis Lovell have Children? Titchmarsh Castle Grounds

Castle Grounds at Titchmarsh

As the picture shows, there is not really much to see where the castle once stood, but at least the ground has not disappeared under a housing project. Today it serves as pasture. That a castle or manor house used to stand on this site was well known and stones found there were reused for building purposes over the centuries. In 1887, the owner of the lands, Lord Lilford, instigated that the area was properly examined and a thorough archaeological excavation took place.

In 2007, my friends and I,
armed with a plan from this excavation, went exploring the area.

Still recognisable ditch of Titchmarsh Castle

Remains of the southern ditch

Most of the structures found in 1887 are now again grassed over. How much of the walls are still there is another question. During the excavation some of the walls discovered were still eight feet in height. They ran along the entire length of the ditches. (This picture shows the ditch on the south side of the castle. The wall is on the right.)

The excavation discovered remains of two distinct building periods. Of the earlier and smaller building no visible sign remains above ground. As John Lovell III received a licence to crenellate his manor house at Titchmarsh in 1304 the newer building was probably built in the years following. A larger area was enclosed with walls and a ditch.

Remains of Titchmarsh Castle

Some stones peeking out of the ground

Some stones of the wall surrounding the castle can be seen at the side of the ditch. The reason for their exposure is presumably the cattle grazing there. The stones were probably quarried at Weldon.

Site of the Multiangular Tower

Site and size of the multiangular tower at the south-western corner of the castle

At each corner of the walls were multiangular towers, though only three could be located during the excavation. They must have added to the warlike appearance of the castle. (On this picture my friends demonstrate the size and location of one of the towers.) The distance between the towers is roughly between 220 and 257 feet (or 67m to 78m). While by no means a huge castle even at the standards of the time it was no doubt impressive. 

Possible Site of Chapel

Remains of west ditch and Chapel Hill

Outside the area of the proper fortifications, on the north-western side, lies this small hill, which may have been the site of a chapel. If this is true, the chapel must have been pretty small.

Titchmarsh Castle Grounds

View over Castle Grounds

An interesting fact is that apparently the castle was already in a state of disrepair in 1361, not even 60 years after John Lovell III received licence to rebuilt the castle in a grander and more elaborate style. The most likely explanation seems to be that the building was allowed to fall into disrepair during the long minorities between the, possible violent, death of John Lovell V in 1347 and the coming of age of his younger son John Lovell VII in 1363 (his elder brother was John Lovell VI). Perhaps the plague which ravaged the country in 1348 also played a part. Additionally, John Lovell V seems to have already sublet the castle and preferred to reside in Minster Lovell, while his son's favourite residence was Wardour Castle.

After the battle of Bosworth In 1485 Francis Lovell was attainted, and Titchmarsh granted to Charles Somerset. At some time afterwards, the castle, or what remained of it, was torn down and the fabric used to built Titchmarsh Manor which in turn was already deserted by the reign of Elizabeth I.

Titchmarsh Castle may today be not much to look at, but I am very glad I visited it. 

Dryden, H.E.L., ‘The Castle of Tichmarsh, Northamptonshire’, Associated Architectural Societies, Reports and Papers 21 (1891), 248-52.
Simon, M.E., 'The Lovells of Titchmarsh. A Late Medieval Baronial Family (1297-148?)', (unpubl. DPhil Thesis, University of York, 1999).
Taylor, A.J., Minster Lovell Hall (Oxfordshire) (Ministry of Works, London, 1947).

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