Whittington Castle
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The Buildings

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20th century toilet block
20th century toilet block
Farm building remains
Remains of farm buidings on the site
Elizabethan cottage
Grade 1 Listed Elizabethan Cottage
Gathouse Towers
The impressive Gatehouse Towers of Whittington Castle
  1. The present gatehouse building complex is the result of a sequence of construction and modification, which has taken place during and since the medieval period. Inspection of the building suggests four principal phases:
    1. The medieval south and north tower horseshoes, the gateway, the ruined north and west towers and the curtain walls.
    2. The timber-framed cottage which is believed to date from the 16th century. It appears that this cottage was not originally connected to the gatehouse towers.
    3. The infill of the gatehouse horseshoe towers. The floorboarding, metal windows and joists suggest Victorian construction. Whether there was an earlier infill can only be surmised on the basis of what appear to be redundant roof tie straps and joist holes. The iron roof ties do not look older than 19 century. However the rafter pockets may prove to be contemporary to the medieval tower.
    4. The modern conversion and insertions and replacements. These includes the dormers, the entrance porch, and all the windows to the cottage, the sanitary and kitchen fitout, the toilet partitions, the roof coverings and much of the rafters, the external toilet block and its enclosing wall, the north lean-to. (One of the lead back flashings to the eastern most dormer has what appears to be the date ?/9/81 painted on with initials). In addition, during more recent times, the cottage has been rendered with a hard sand cement render and the upper portions of the two chimneystacks have been rebuilt. The paving, the landscape and planting are also 20th century.
  1. The stone to the towers appears to be carboniferous limestone and is similar in type, coursing and size to the facing stone in the rest of the medieval masonry on the site. The surrounds to some of the windows appear to be sandstone, as is the arch dressing to the gateway. The stonework to the towers has been repointed, apparently at the same time as the consolidation of the rubble cores to the ruins of the inner bailey.
  2. The two-storey cottage is of three bays. The two most westerly bays are clearly identified in the roof void by way of the principal rafters supporting the ridge beam and purlins. There are three apparently original timber frames. The one at the west gable, an intermediate one and one that abuts a reconstructed section that connects the cottage to the north tower. This suggests that the original cottage was a two bay structure.
  3. The timber frame to the cottage is visible on the south elevation, although cut up by the insertion of modern windows and plastered over at the plinth and intermediate cross-rail levels. The frame is visually more complete on the west elevation. To the north, a lean-to has protected the elevation in recent years. Although the roof covering and structure to this lean-to is relatively recent the condition of the north elevation appears to suggest that some form of lean-to has been in position for many years. It appears from an inspection of the south elevation that the original timber framing finished at the larder window. Internally the first floor support beam can be seen protruding through the partition wall and stopping at the ground floor landing to the staircase, which generally aligns with this window.
  4. A fragment of post and cross rail is visible below the staircase against the north wall accessible from the ground floor of the north tower. This appears to be an anomaly that will need to be answered following a more detailed survey. This fragment does not align with the assumed position of the north wall to the cottage, nor with an eastern gable of the cottage had it been constructed with three approximately equal bays.
  5. The timber frame and brick infill is visible for a thorough inspection. It is interesting to note that the timber posts sit on a brick sill upon a stone plinth along two thirds of the elevation. A timber sill remains in part only adjacent to the west corner. The bricks used as the sill are of an unusual format.
  6. Bricks that appear to belong to the original construction of the cottage are very irregular in size and are smaller than standard Victorian or present day bricks. The ones inspected in the roof space between the principal rafters appeared to be very lightly baked. Comparison with bricks of 16the century buildings in the area should be made to confirm their age on this building.
  7. The visible internal timber frame is likely to be contemporary with the external frame include the purlins at first floor ceiling level, a plate on which a first floor cross wall sits, and the first floor support beam running between cross walls.
  8. The infill of the north and south towers is believed to be Victorian on the basis of the following visual clues. The floorboards are of regular sizes (190mm), and metal windows have been fitted, which do not appear to be of a modern type. The laths visible in the north tower roof space are riven but they appear to be softwood. From a constructional and detailing point of view there is nothing exceptional about the materials and their assembly. The two windows to the south elevation to the west of the medieval tower appear to have been removed from another earlier building. The ground floor window appears to be a simple example of reticulated tracery that could date it as 13 to 14 century. The evidence suggests that the present bridge between the north and south towers is contemporary to the internal construction to the north and south towers. The link between the cottage and the north tower that consists of a bay may well have been constructed at this time. The internal partitions and the ceilings are therefore of this period or later.

(Extract from W.S Atkins draft scoping study report commissioned by Whittington Castle Preservation Trust)

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