Thursday, 11 August 2022

An Open Day at Tickhill Castle

A view of the motte and bailey at Tickhill castle

After a busy August, when most of my days out had a geological theme and ended with a recce of Lyme Park, my next trip was on the first weekend of September 2021 to visit Tickhill Castle, which is only opened to the general public on one Sunday afternoon a year. 
The guide to Tickhill Castle

From Treeton, it is less than 18 km away as the crow flies and is easy to get to by car; however, by public transport it requires two changes each way, via Doncaster, which I was determined to do last year, but which cuts to the Sunday service in Treeton has now made exceedingly difficult. Luckily my next door neighbour Dan, who had accompanied me on walks in Treeton Wood and Rawmarsh, also wanted to go and so a day mainly spent travelling was avoided. 
Treeton to Tickhill as the crow flies

The original motte and bailey castle was built by Roger de Busli, a Norman Baron who participated in the Norman Conquest of 1066 and was granted the Honour of Tickhill, which included numerous manors in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and also South Yorkshire, where he built castles at Laughton-en-le-Morthen, Mexborough and Kimberworth. 
The original castle was built on a spur of the Triassic Lenton Sandstone Formation, which rises no more than 10 metres above a surrounding low lying andscape that is composed of soft marl, sandstone and alluvium - into which the moat was dug. 
The Norman gatehouse

The guide to the castle states that the gatehouse was built c.1070-1080, using Permian dolomitic limestone from the Cadeby Formation to the west, and the Sheela Na Gig Project also dates the stone carvings on its front to the late C11. 
A detail of the gatehouse
Passing through the gatehouse and looking at its east elevation, there is a very obvious change in the masonry from the original very pale grey massive limestone to the thinly coursed, very well bedded dark buff stone, which is used for the surround to the large Elizabethan mullioned window. 
The east elevation of the gatehouse
At the time, I didn’t even think about looking at the various stones very closely, as the castle was only open for 2½ hours and I was wandering around it with Dan, but when looking at my photographs close up on my computer screen, it has puzzled me – especially since the late C16 west wing of Tickhill Castle House and the early C17 buttresses on its east side have been built from a very similar stone. 
Tickhill Castle House
The north and south buttresses have round arches of an unknown date set into them and the walling stone has very many vughs along the bedding planes, which reminds me of the Cadeby Formation that I saw in Pontefract - which is underlain by the Yellow Sands Formation – and also isolated blocks in boundary walling at Carr. 
A round arch in the northernmost buttress
The building of the curtain wall began in 1102, after a siege of the castle by Robert Bloet, with the limestone being very probably brought from the quarries in the manor of Maltby, which were later used to build Roche Abbey and also supplied stone for many Norman churches in the region. 
A section of the eastern curtain wall

Henry II began the construction of an eleven sided stone keep in 1180, which was completed in 1192, but only the foundations of this remain today; however, access to the upper part of the motte was not permitted and I didn’t get an opportunity to look at the stonework. 
A view of the motte
The castle functioned as a key administrative centre on the Nottingham/Yorkshire border and was subjected to further sieges, including action during Prince John’s failed attempts to displace his brother, King Richard I. Its various owners therefore spent considerable money on its maintenance and improvement and, when walking around the walls, various phases of building can be seen. 
A view of the exterior of the curtain wall
By 1540 the castle was in very poor repair, like very many other castles throughout Britain, due to their decreasing military importance in the face of the threat of heavy artillery. After he took a lease in 1614, it was later restored and fortified by Sir Ralph Hansby and was a Royalist stronghold during the English Civil Wars, but the keep was pulled down in 1649.
The Hansby coat of arms

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