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COWDRAY HOUSE

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The ruined and buried remains of a medieval fortified house, arranged around a quadrangular courtyard, and constructed in at least two main phases during the late 15th and early 16th centuries. The main courtyard was designed on a particularly grand scale, resembling the contemporary royal palace of Hampton Court. The buildings are faced with sandstone ashlar decorated with contrasting, lighter coloured stone dressings, and are topped with crenellated parapets. The wall cores, surviving chimneys and some facing, and subsequent repairs and alterations also contain substantial amounts of red brick. The eastern range survives mainly in the form of foundations represented by low modern walls, and housed the main domestic apartments, including a central hall, served by an adjoining chapel. At the southern end of the range are service rooms and a projecting, hexagonal corner tower surviving to its full height of three storeys. The ruined, three-storeyed northern range is lit by tall bay windows and contained a first floor gallery. Documentary evidence suggests that most of the eastern and northern ranges were built by Sir David Owen from around 1492. The southern range of the main courtyard also survives largely in the form of foundations marked out by modern walling, and contained further service rooms. The western range incorporates more substantial ruins, including a central gatehouse. The southern and western ranges were constructed by Sir William Fitzwilliam, later Earl of Southampton, who bought the estate in 1529 and was granted licence to crenellate in 1533. The buildings of the main courtyard were severely damage by fire in 1793, after which the house fell into disuse. Finds of 13th century floor tiles and worked masonry among the ruins suggest that the Tudor house may have been built on the site of an earlier manor house, further traces of which are likely to survive as below ground features.

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