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AYDON CASTLE

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A medieval fortified manor house whose elements include a variety of upstanding domestic, ancillary and defensive buildings arranged within three courtyards surrounded by a curtain wall. Also included, due to the manor's conversion to a farmhouse in the 17th century, is an orchard and a range of 18th century farm buildings along the west side of the middle courtyard. Medieval documents indicate that a timber hall existed on the site prior to about 1300. It was located in roughly the same area as the adjacent late 13th century hall and its location has been partially confirmed by excavation. The later house was not originally intended to be fortified. Its construction began in the last quarter of the 13th century, prior to the 14th century Border wars. By 1305, when most of the buildings were complete, Edward I granted its owner licence to crenellate. The earliest stone buildings are the hall, chamber block and the garderobe; dateable to between 1280 and 1300. Between 1300 and 1305, battlemented walls were built to the north, enclosing the buildings within an inner courtyard. Following the king's licence, parapets were added to the domestic buildings and the inner courtyard wall. The construction of the outer courtyard was begun and completed by 1315. The D-shaped tower probably dates to the mid-14th century. Because the curtain wall appears never to have been a strong defensive line and because there was no gatehouse at the castle entrance, it was rapidly surrendered to the Scots in 1315. In the 16th or 17th century, the eastern part of the outer courtyard was divided off to create an orchard. Dating of timbers from the kitchen and latrine block indicate building activity in the 1540s when the property changed hands from the Reymes family to the Carnably family. In the 18th century the manor became a farmhouse on the Matfen estate which saw the construction of farmbuildings in the middle courtyard. The site is in the care of English Heritage.

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