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SPOFFORTH CASTLE

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The remains of a 13th-15th century fortified manor house and the buried remains of other buildings including an 11th century Norman stronghold, built soon after 1067 by William de Percy. Spofforth remained the principal seat of the Percys until 1309, when Henry Percy bought the manor of Alnwick and the residence at Spofforth gradually lost favour. The extant west range is of two storeys, the oldest part being the undercroft which is 13th century. Above this is the great hall and the private rooms, built and modified in the 14th and 15th centuries to create a fortified manor house after licence to crenellate was granted to Henry Percy in 1309. The plan of the west range is a parallelogram with an extension at the north-east corner and a polygonal stair turret and spire at the north-west. The back of the undercroft is set against a quarried rock face, so that the eastern entrance into the hall above is at ground level. Fragments of other buildings indicate that the standing remains formed one side of a quadrangle stretching to the east. Earthworks in Manor Garth further to the east and cropmarks showing up on aerial photographs, show the location of other foundations, possibly representing a demolished curtain wall with mural towers. During the Wars of the Roses the Percy family supported the house of Lancaster and in 1461, the castle was burned by Yorkist troops. The site remained ruinous until 1559, when it was restored by Henry Percy. A hunting park and fishpond/millpond/mere (records 53076 and 1526694 respectively) to the west of the residence were maintained into the 17th century. The last record of the building being occupied dates to 1604, although maps of about 1600 and 1608 show it being intact, with three internal ranges and a curtain wall with nine mural towers. This curtain wall and other buildings appear to have been slighted, or badly damaged and then heavily robbed, during the Civil War. The site is now in the care of English Heritage.

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