Tattershall Castle: building a history

Wright, James Peter (2022) Tattershall Castle: building a history. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Tattershall Castle in Lincolnshire, United Kingdom, was developed in the 1230s for the regional baron, Robert de Tateshale. It was later remodelled, in the fifteenth century, for Ralph Lord Cromwell as a major expression of his status as a royal councillor and Lord Treasurer of England. The castle consists of three wards surrounded by water-filled moats which contained five gatehouses, several lodging ranges, chapel, services, hall, solar and Great Tower. The latter dominates the entire site and originally acted as an architectural focus which was imbued with motifs connected to Cromwell’s prestige.

The castle has been included within the pages of many important publications in English castle studies. Many statements were influenced by a prior generation of scholars who valued a military interpretation of castles. This view has been largely replaced by more nuanced thematic approaches over the last thirty years. Consequently, this project has offered the first opportunity to apply the contemporary disciplines of buildings archaeology, within the context of modern castle studies, to the site. Key theoretical principles have included the integrated techniques of historical archaeology and ‘building biographies’. These have been used to reveal the connections between built environment, landscape, socio-political ideology and the human agency of mediaeval builders and patrons. A re-analysis of the castle’s fifteenth century building accounts has enabled an understanding of the practices of the master builders and assessment of the Great Tower has revealed the underlying geometry that underpins the structure. Further work on the built environment of the castle has uncovered complex access routes and spatial functions alongside motifs in the diaperwork, window tracery, vaulting and chimneypieces which are deeply redolent of elite mediaeval lordship.

The architecture of prestige has been a constant theme throughout the project – from the probable emulation of the castles of Earl Ranulf de Blondeville by Robert de Tateshale, through to the carefully stage-managed designed landscape of lordship which extended significantly beyond the walls of Cromwell’s castle. Evidence has also come to light that Cromwell was a major patron of highly innovative architecture which helped to demonstrate his social position further. Taking influence from both European and indigenous structures the castle was an architecturally unique site which dendrochronology, commissioned during the project, has shown may have been an originator of the Lancastrian court style. The castle then went on to have a significant impact on English architecture for around two centuries to come.

Ultimately, Tattershall went into a gradual decline during the post-mediaeval period. It has been possible to trace the changing built environment to give a complete picture of the status, visual appearance, land-use and conservation of the site across eight centuries.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: King, Christopher
Hall, Rachael
Keywords: Tattershall castle, Medieval archaeology, Architecture, History, Ralph Cromwell, Fifteenth century
Subjects: D History - General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of Humanities
Related URLs:
Item ID: 67151
Depositing User: Wright, James
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2022 04:40
Last Modified: 12 May 2022 07:58
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/67151

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