Notes taken from Ann Robinson observations

Castle House

Castle House 1994
Castle House 1994
Earliest recorded ownership of Castle House is the Tyrrell family from the Medieval times until the 18th century During the Tyrrell’s ownership, the period around 1700 was the peak of the house’s development and this was the time when the houses was at its greatest size.

Known as “Castle House” and “Castle Yard” in most historical documents, from 19th century it was known as “The Dower House”. There is no evidence that it was used by the “widowed mother of the head of the family”, except possibly after the death of Sir Thomas Tyrrell, when a new larger family house was constructed at Hanslope Park.

Castlethorpe House may have been built on remains of the Castle kitchens or stables, present cellars probably date back to that time. At one end of the present garden is a revetting wall built into the earthworks of the old castle, which almost certainly dates back to the time of the castle. It is known that there is a flat stone pavement existing some two feet beneath the existing garden to the north of the house, this too may date back to the 13th century

Ground floor plan of the 1291 Hall
Ground floor plan of the 1291 Hall

The layout of the medieval hall can be clearly seen, covering the drawing room and hall. Three symmetrically placed beams across the drawing room and hall - was the main hall. Two of the beams have been boxed in due to their poor condition.

Castle House is all that remains of a much larger 16th century, or earlier building which belonged to the Tyrrell family between 1626 and the early 18th century It has been altered many times over the centuries and even though it was split into four tenements in the early 20th century, it still shows the typical division of parlour and services separated by the hall. During renovations a door like a stable door was revealed when a wall was pulled down, leading down to the cellars. Also found were 2 original bedrooms in the roof and an original window in the front one, probably blocked up when windows were taxed. The rent for one of these dwellings was 6d per week.

The original 16th century front door, which was still in use until 1968, has been remounted in the cellar and a replica now takes its place in the entrance.The huge medieval chimney stack with its external bread oven is of special interest.

View of bread oven & replica 16th century door
Bread oven & replica 16th century door
The chimney, roughly 12 feet wide by 5 feet deep the base and forming the main feature of the outside view of the house, probably dating from the 1475. At the base of the chimney is a well preserved brick domed bread oven, probably added about 1588, access to which is now from the dining room. The main part of the medieval chimney is no longer used, although the interior construction can be seen from a trap door in the dining room. A suspended passageway was driven through the chimney during alterations and a huge inglenook fireplace in the dining room was converted into an access door.

In the drawing room is a four square arched fireplace, dating from 1575. This was originally in the old master bedroom and was concealed in the wall until the reconstruction in the 1960’s, at which time it was removed to its present place

The sitting room has the remains of a Tudor corner cupboard with a domed roof. The inglenook fireplace dates only to the 19th century although parts may have been constructed from the remains of original mullioned windows.

In the master bedroom there exists a glass panel in the interior wall giving access to the original wattle and daub construction of the interior walls of the house. The second floor bedrooms exhibit well preserved roof beams, although probably re-used from old ships timbers in Elizabethan times.

Underground passages were probably either a) a cellar light or b) an entrance to other cellars underneath parts of the house that were demolished in the 18th century.

L shape plan of Castle House
L shape plan of Castle House

In 1704 a private Act of Parliament was passed authorising the dismantling of the major portion of the medieval house and this was probably carried out in 1710. There is much evidence of in the external stonework of former parts of the house but it has not been possible to reconstruct exactly the plan of the house.

The last head of the Tyrrell family to reside there was Sir Thomas Tyrrell. Legend has it that he died while sitting in the window seat in the old master bedroom in 1678.

The house subsequently passed into the hands of the Dukes of Buckingham and then to their descendents, the Carrington Family, who owned considerable property in Castlethorpe.

Early 19th century view of Castle House
Early 19th century picture of Castle House
In 1961 the house was sold by the present Lord Carrington for to Patricia St. John, one of the tenants for £1000. In 1964 the house was still divided into several cottages, was sold to Mr. & Mrs. Edmunds, who converted it into one house and completely changed the interior design of the east wing. In 1976 the present owner acquired it and no major structural alterations have been made.

Bridget Tyrrell will dated 1683 includes a schedule of the house in Thorpe (wherein I now dwell)”. Probate date for the will is 12 November 1685.