Chartley Castle (Stowe-by-Chartley)
|Vicinity||Immediately NE of Stowe-by-Chartley; c. 8.5 km SW of Uttoxeter|
By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2020-10-14. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2020-10-18.
According to local tradition, Robin Hood took refuge at Chertley Castle.
The castle, of the motte and bailey type, was built c. 1100 by Richard d'Avranches, 2nd Earl of Chester. It was rebuilt in 1220 by Ranulph de Blondeville, 4th Earl of Chester, on whose death in 1232 it passed by marriage to William de Ferrers, 5th Earl of Derby. The castle remained in the Ferrers family for more than 200 years, and in 1453 passed to Walter Devereux. It was abandoned as a residence c, 1485, when Chartley Manor, a moated and battlemented timber mansion, was built nearby instead. Mary I was a prisoner there. The manor house was destroyed by fire in 1781. What is now known as Chartley Manor was in fact known as 'Chartley Manor Farm' until the 1980s. Substantial remains of the original castle survive, including a cylindrical keep, a curtain wall flanked by two half-round towers, a twin-towered gatehouse and an angled tower.
Chartley Castle, six miles west of Uttoxeter, was built in 1220, by Richard Blundeville, Earl of Chester, on his return from the Holy Land, and an import was levied on all his vassals to defray the expense of building. After the death of the founder, the castle and estates fell to William Ferrars, Earl of Derby, whose son Robert forfeited them by his rebellion. Afterwards he was allowed to retain them. They were subsequently carried by marriage to the family of Devereux, and then to those of Shirley and [p. 334:] Townsend, and lady Northampton gave up all she could of Chartley, namely, the estate to one of her uncles, the then Earl Ferrars, to whose descendants it now belongs. Of the castle which has been in ruins from before the time of Leland, there remain fragments of two round towers, with loopholes so constructed as to allow of the arrows being shot horizontally into the ditch. The keep was circular, and about fifty feet in diameter. The ancient manor-house was curiously made of wood, the sides carved, and the top embatteled, and the arms of the Devereux, with the devices of the Ferrers and Garnishes, were in the windows, and in many parts within and without the house. For some time it was the prison of the unfortunate Mary, Queen of the Scots, who wrought a bed that was in it. On her way to Stafford in 1575, Queen Elizabeth visited it. It was burnt down in 1781. The park is a thousand acres, and the breed of the wild beasts of Needwood Forest are preserved in it to this day. It is traditionally said that Robin Hood found asylum at Chartley Castle, and its founder, Randall, of Chester, is thus named in connection with the famed Robin, by the author of "Piers Plowman"—
I can rhyme of Robin Hood, and Randall of Chester.'
For aught the writer knows to the contrary, there are very few parks anywhere in England like those two in Staffordshire — Bagot's and Chartley. For where else do you find the park without the house? No doubt there were plenty of others at one time, though in many cases only the name remains without the pales. But Chartley is exactly as it was when the Conqueror came — or many a century before his time, except so far as it is enclosed by its fence, which is said to have been put up in the reign of Henry III., when the white cattle were driven in from the forest.
Its castle, which is now in ruins, was built in 1220, [vol. I, p. 136:] by Richard Blunderville [sic], Earl of Chester, on his return from the Holy Land, and from him descended to William Ferrars, Earl of Derby, whose son Eobert forfeited the estate by his rebellion. He was, however, afterwards allowed to retain it. Subsequently it came by marriage to the family of Devereux, and was in their possession when Mary, Queen of Scots, was taken there from Tutbury Castle, in December, 1585, and remained there till she was removed to Fotheringhay, in September, 1586. Before her arrival Lord Essex wrote to Mr. Bagot of Blithfield, asking him to have "all the bedding, hangings, and such like stuffs, removed to your own house for a wile ; and, if she come to Chartley, it may be carried to Lichfield, or els (she being gone to Dudley or els wher) it may be carried back." From this letter it does not seem as if Lord Essex quite approved of having his house turned into a sort of State prison. While there, the queen embroidered a bed with her own hands, which is still at Chartley. Queen Elizabeth came there, on her way to Stafford, in 1575. Li 1781 the curious old manor house was burnt down, while, about fifty years ago, the new one caught fire. Abberley, who is now one of Lord Bagot's keepers, and who lives at Abberley's house, on the outskirts of Bagot's Wood on the Uttoxeter turnpike road, remembers the fire, and was struck with the number of old guns, pikes, bayonets, and the like, which came out of it on that occasion.
"It is traditionally said," Mr. Redfern observes, "that Robin Hood found asylum at Chartley Castle, and its founder, Randall of Chester, is thus named in connection with the famed Robin, by the author of 'Piers Plowman.'
I can rhyme of Robin Hood, and Randall of Chester.'"
Does the coupling together of these two names favour the idea of a Robert de Ferrars being no other than a Robin Hood?
- Not included in Dobson, R.B., ed.; Taylor, J., ed. Rymes of Robyn Hood: an Introduction to the English Outlaw (London, 1976), pp. 293-311.
- 25" O.S. map Staffordshire XXXI.14 (1901; rev. 1900) (georeferenced)
- 25" O.S. map Staffordshire XXXI.14 (1882; surveyed 1881)
- 25" O.S. map Staffordshire XXXI.14 (c. 1901; rev. c. 1900)
- 25" O.S. map Staffordshire XXXI.14 (c. 1901; rev. c. 1900)
- 25" O.S. map Staffordshire XXXI.14 (1924; rev. 1922)
- 25" O.S. map Staffordshire XXXI.15 (1882; surveyed 1881)
- 25" O.S. map Staffordshire XXXI.15 (1901; rev. 1900)
- 25" O.S. map Staffordshire XXXI.15 (1924; rev. 1922)
- 6" O.S. map Staffordshire XXXI.SW (1887; surveyed 1880–81)
- 6" O.S. map Staffordshire XXXI.SW (1901; rev. 1900) (georeferenced)
- 6" O.S. map Staffordshire XXXI.SW (1901; rev. 1900)
- 6" O.S. map Staffordshire XXXI.SW (1925; rev. 1922)
- 6" O.S. map Staffordshire XXXI.SE (1884; surveyed 1881)
- 6" O.S. map Staffordshire XXXI.SE (1901; rev. 1900)
- 6" O.S. map Staffordshire XXXI.SE (1925; rev. 1922).
- Paragraph adapted from Wikipedia: Chartley Castle, supplemented by Wikipedia: Stowe-by-Chartley.
- Redfern, Francis. History of the Town of Uttoxeter: with Notices of Places in its Neighbourhood (London; Uttoxeter; Derby, 1865), pp. 333-34.
- Randall, J. L. A History of the Meynell Hounds and Country 1780 to 1901 (London, 1901), vol. I, pp. 135-36.
Click any image to display it in the lightbox, where you can navigate between images by clicking in the right or left side of the current image.
Chartley Castle ruins / Stephen Jones, 15 Jan. 2010, Creative Commons, via Geograph.
Chartley Castle ruins / Stephen Betteridge, 17 Mar. 2007, Creative Commons, via Geograph.
Chartley Castle / Plot, Robert. The Natural History of Stafford-shire (Oxford, 1686), plate near p. 93.