Building record 0031701001 - GATEHOUSE AT BOARSTALL TOWER


Medieval gatehouse to Boarstall Manor.

Protected Status/Designation

  • Listed Building (I) 1124280: BOARSTALL TOWER
  • Planning Notification Area: Buildings and earthworks of Medieval village and manor complex at Boarstall Tower
  • SHINE: Boarstall Tower & medieval to post medieval deserted village earthworks & medieval moated manor earthworks


Type and Period (1)

  • GATEHOUSE (Built 1312?, 14th Century to 17th Century - 1300 AD to 1699 AD) + Sci.Date


Dimensions - Length 14m, Width 7m.
Plan Form - Rectangular.
Grade I. House, once the fortified gatehouse to a house that was demolished late C18. Early C14, for John de Handle who was given licence to crenellate in 1312. Altered late C16-C17. C20 repairs and internal modifications. Coursed rubble stone with ashlar dressings, the N. front with bands of ashlar. Lead roof. Rectangular building with hexagonal corner towers, the rear towers a little taller and containing stone spiral staircases. 3 storeys, the tall top storey with single large room, the lower storeys with one bay to either side of central archway. Towers have carved stone gargoyles, battlemented parapets with C17 copings, and C14 slit windows, those to N. towers cross-shaped, 2 in S.E. tower with trefoil heads. Other irregular C16-C17 windows as in centre block, S. towers have C16-C17 windows as in centre block. S. towers have C16-C17 doorways with chamfered depressed arches and Tudor hoodmoulds. Centre block, except on S. front, has C17 balustraded stone parapets, that to N. with carved frieze below, those to sides canted out over bay windows. Single octagonal stone chimney shafts flanking centre bay are also C17. C16-C17 moulded stone mullion windows, all with leaded lights. N. front has 2-light windows to ground floor and single lights to first floor, the small central light with the sill grooved, possibly by a portcullis chain; central C14 depressed archway of 2 chamfered orders with C17 doors, the doors reversed with moulded panels to inner face. This archway has flanking C17 stone buttresses which rise in a semi-circular arch to support a 2nd floor rectangular bay window of 3 lights. Rear also has C14 arch with flanking single lights, 2-light windows to first floor and 2 cross windows to upper storey. Canted bay windows to sides have moulded corbel bases and transomed upper windows. Single storey range attached to right, of rubble stone and brick, has been much altered C20 but incorporates older building with angled rear corners and chamfered ashlar jambs. Interior: central through passage has been incorporated into a room with the removal of the left side wall. Ground floor room to right has altered fireplace with shallow late C17 stone arch. Upper floors retain C14 2-centred chamfered arches to towers, that from large room to S.E. tower being of oak. First floor rooms still have old doors. Fine upper room has late C16 stone fireplace with moulded 4-centred arch and stopped jambs, and heraldic glass of 1692 in N. window. Some traces of medieval drawing on rear wall of ground floor. Consecration cross and C17 clock in S.W. tower. Infront of the Tower, and attached to it is a bridge of 1736, with 2 brick arches over the moat. House is now owned by The National Trust. RCHM I p. 57-59 Mon. 4. National Trust Guide, by Dr. S. Hall, 1979 (B16).
The tower and moat were constructed shortly after 1312 by John De Handlo. Inside the moat once stood the dwelling house and the noted 17th century formal garden which featured box hedges, gravel paths and parterre. After 1777 the garden was abandoned and gradually reverted to grazing land. A new garden was created in 1925 by Antonio Pinzani, but today the interior is grassed with various earthworks clearly visible. A watching brief carried out in August 1999 during the installation of a new sub-station and electrical cabling to the north east of the tower, discovered buried foundations cut features, a mortar spread and substantial amounts of medieval pottery. The red brick foundations may relate to a building within the 17th century garden or a greenhouse noted by a National Trust employee as having been since demolished. The nature and extent of the mortar spread at the western end of the trench remains unknown. The cut feature contained relatively large amounts of medieval pottery and animal bone in good condition, the material may have been disturbed and reburied during scouring works to the moat. The deposits seen under the gravelled drive were highly compacted and devoid of finds (B20-21).
Dendro-dating obtains felling date of 1312-13 for timbers from ground floor ceiling joists. A second felling date of 1614-15 for timbers from the roof joists suggests that the top storey of the building was rebuilt when the parapet was raised. See report (filed) for detail (B27).
Notes in Records of Buckinghamshire relating to a 1947 inspection of Boarstall Tower. Lead roof in good condition and mail walls sound but stonework above roof level in dangerous condition (four hexagonal corner towers, four intermediate parapets and four octagonal single-flue stacks of later date). First stage of reconstruction work undertaken using Clipsham stone, with a little re-use of old stone (B29).
Note in Records of Buckingahmshire of a summer excursion to Boarstall Tower in June 1925, containing a description of the Tower (B30).

Sources (27)

  • ---SBC20317 Graphic material: Michael Burghers. 1695. Burghers' 1695 engraving of bird's-eye view of Boarstall.
  • <3>SBC7563 Bibliographic reference: LIPSCOMB 1 PP54-88.
  • <4>SBC14723 Bibliographic reference: SMYTH WH 1864 ADDENDA TO AEDES HARTWELLIANAE PP233 -252.
  • <5>SBC16032 Bibliographic reference: VCH BUCKS 4 PP10-13.
  • <6>SBC12853 Bibliographic reference: RCHM BUCKS 1 PP57-59.
  • <7>SBC10412 Map: Ordnance Survey. 1960. OS 1960 6-INCH MAP. 1:10,560.
  • <9>SBC10628 Unpublished document: Ordnance Survey Field Investigator. OS RECORD CARD.
  • <10>SBC9890 Bibliographic reference: NATIONAL TRUST 1977 PROPERTIES OF.
  • <11>SBC7215 Verbal communication: LAMB G C & FARLEY M E (BCM) AUGUST 1975 PERS COMM.
  • <12>SBC2272 Bibliographic reference: CALENDAR OF CLOSE ROLLS 29 EDWARD II MEMBRANE 22 (P137).
  • <13>SBC1862 Bibliographic reference: BRAYLEY E W (ED) 1834 THE GRAPHIC & HISTORICAL ILLUSTRATOR PP1-3.
  • <14>SBC6114 Bibliographic reference: HARRIS J 1979 THE ARTIST & THE COUNTRY HOUSE P105 (COPY FILED) ALSO MVRG ANN RPT 28 1980 PP35-6 (COP.
  • <15>SBC12372 Article in serial: S Porter. 1984. 'CIVIL WAR DESTRUCTION OF BOARSTALL', IN RECS OF BUCKS 26 PP86-91. Vol 26.
  • <16>SBC19811 Bibliographic reference: DoE. 1985. List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest: Buckinghamshire: Aylesbury Vale: Parishes of Boarstall &C. p2.
  • <17>SBC13683 Bibliographic reference: REED M 1979 THE BUCKINGHAMSHIRE LANDSCAPE P122.
  • <18>SBC8269 Unpublished document: W L Mathews. 1989. THE NATIONAL TRUST ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY: BOARSTALL TOWER.
  • <19>SBC14647 Unpublished document: Buckinghamshire County Museum Archaeological Service. 1997. THE ANNEXE, BOARSTALL TOWER, BOARSTALL: BUILDING RECORDING & PHOTOGRAPHIC SURVEY.
  • <20>SBC19074 Unpublished document: Oxford Archaeological Unit. 1999. Boarstall Tower, Boarstall, Buckinghamshire Archaeological Watching Brief Report.
  • <21>SBC19209 Bibliographic reference: National Trust. 1999. Annual Archeological Review No. 7 1998-99. p46.
  • <24>SBC19895 Unpublished document: Luigi Pinzano. 1925. Photocopies of photographs by the garden designer Luigi Pinzani of Boarstall Tower.
  • <27>SBC22686 Digital archive: Vernacular Architecture Group. 2000 onwards. Vernacular Architecture Group: Dendrochronology Database. VA vol 30 p99.
  • <29>SBC23450 Article in serial: Unknown. 1949. Notes in Records of Bucks: short article on Boarstall Tower. volume XV, part 3, 1949.
  • <30>SBC23459 Article in serial: Unknown. 1925. Note of annual excursion of Buckinghamshire Archaeological Society. Vol 11: 44.
  • <31>SBC23722 Unpublished document: Oxford Archaeological Unit. 2000. Boarstall Tower, Boarstall: Archaeological Monitoring During Building Work.


Grid reference SP 62425 14246 (point)
Civil Parish BOARSTALL, Aylesbury Vale, Buckinghamshire

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (3)

  • Event - Intervention: Building recording and watching brief (EBC17328)
  • Event - Survey: Site visit (EBC13596)
  • Event - Intervention: Watching brief carried out during the installation of sub-station and cabling at Boarstall Tower (EBC16197)

Record last edited

Jul 22 2022 7:22AM

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