Braybrook Castle ( pictures here - click )

This information comes from a small pamphlet we picked up in 1998 when visiting the Town of Braybrooke, (North., England) . It is titled - Braybrooke Church, by Geoff Pitcher.

Brief Notes on the Castle

This was originally the manor knows as the East Hall Fee and was held soon after the Norman Conquest by Ivo Newmarch. His grandson, Robert le May, more commonly called Robert de Braybrooke, was high in favour with King John, being master of his wardrobe and one of his Council, and it was during his time that the first reference is made to the fishpond, when Robert's son, Henry released to Pipewell Abbey all his right to the dam which Robert had made at Braybrooke, within the Abbey's Close, provided the dam water continued to flow into Henry's fishpond. The monks were not to dig in the watercourse, or prevent it from running into the fishpond, but they could freely use the dam for fishing. Henry also extended the manor house and in 1213 was given timber from the forest of Leicester to build a fair chamber at Braybrooke.

In the late 13th century the estate passed into the hands of the Latymer family when Henry's great granddaughter, Christina, married John Latymer. The Inquisition taken after Christina's death in 1292, only records a capital messuage (chief house) with a garden worth 6s 8d yearly and makes no mention of the fishpond, which was probably small and worth little. On January 30th 1303 Thomas le Latymer, Christina's son obtained a licence to strengthen his manor house at Braybrooke with a stone wall and to embattle it. It is clear Thomas undertook major alterations to the building as the Pipewell Abbey register records that he had the roof of his great chamber at Braybrooke of the timber of the Abbey and Convent, and the inquisition taken after Thomas's death in 1334 describes the castle as a capital messuage enclosed by water, worth with a close outside the gates, in herbage from St. Mary to Michelmas 10 shillings. The fishery around the enclosure is worth nothing (probably because all the fish were consumed upon the estate). It seems likely that the earthworks which survive today comprising the double ditched platform upon which the castle stood, and the many small breeding tanks or fish stews, set around the edge of the large fishpond or lake were probably all created by Sir Thomas early in the 14th century. The nature of the buildings which stood upon the platform are less certain. Clearly the great chamber roofed with the Abbots timber was the great hall, and in 1355 we have details of further buildings when Sir Thomas's widowed daughter-in-law, Katherine, following a dispute with her son, John Latymer concerning her occupation of the castle, was awarded in arbitration "the rooms beginning at the chapel as far as the great chamber," with right of entry and re-entry "if there cannot be made a convenient door across the ditch. The picture appears to be of a large and sophisticated manor house, probably constructed in stone, with great hall and chapel, built on a square double ditched platform, surrounded by a stone wall, with probably several bridges and gatehouses spanning the ditches.

The castle passed out of Latymer ownership in the mid 15th century, when it was inherited by the heirs of Sir Thomas's granddaughter, Elizabeth, who had married Sir Thomas Griffin. During the Griffins occupation, Bridges tells us, part of the castle was casually blown up by gunpowder, but no date is given. The famous 16th century typographer, John Leland made the following note about the castle around 1540, although he does not appear to have visited it. "Braybroke Castelle apon Wiland water was made and embatelid by licens that one Braybroke, a noble man in those (days) did obteine". "Mr. Griphine is now owner of it, he is a man of faire landes.." Mr. Griphine was Sir Thomas Griffin, eldest son of Nicholas Griffin. More famous was his younger brother, Edward, who rose high at Court, becoming attornev general to both Edward VI and Mary 1. In 1558 Edward commenced work on a mansion house of his own at nearby Dinglev, and thus split the familv estates. Sir Thomas outlived his two eldest sons, and on his death in 1566, the castle passed to his third son, Thomas who had been a lunatic since the age of 12. In his will dated April 1566 Sir Thomas made provision for his son and directed his executors to see my house of Braybroke - well and honestly kept up. " Thomas the lunatic died childless, and the castle passed first to his niece, Mary Markham, and then to the heirs of his uncle, Sir Edward Griffin of Dingley. Elizabeth, wife of Edward's grandson, Sir Thomas Griffin was probably the last member of the family to reside in the castle, since she is recorded as living at Braybrooke in 1620, after the death of her husband.

Two pieces of evidence survive to suggest the castle was demolished around 1632-33. The first is a record of the repair of Walgrave Church in 1633, when the chancel was embattled and the buttress's raised with stone from Braybrooke Castle. The second is a note in a document relating to 1752 tyth case, which states that the castle had been demolished some 120 years previous. It had almost certainly gone by 1635 when Sir John Lambe noted the chapel in the castle as "pulled down". Some remains of the stone mullioned windowed farmhouse which succeeded the castle on the site still survive. It was demolished in 1959, having stood empty for most of this century. It is first mentioned in 1649 as the capitol messuage or mansion house, on the site of the castle and was probably constructed soon after the castle was demolished. When Bridges visited Braybrooke around 1720, he noted that eastward of the town were the ruins of an ancient castle, standing in a low situation and encompassed with a double ditch. He does not make it clear whether any upstanding masonarv survived, but it seems unlikely since only,the farmhouse and the range of farm buildings which face the Desborough Road are shown on the earliest surviving map of the village dated 1767.