Scheduled Monument: Rochford Tower (1016693)

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Authority Department of Culture, Media and Sport
Date assigned 12 February 1931
Date last amended 16 April 1999


Reasons for Designation Fortified houses were residences belonging to some of the richest and most powerful members of society. Their design reflects a combination of domestic and military elements. In some instances, the fortifications may be cosmetic additions to an otherwise conventional high status dwelling, giving a military aspect while remaining practically indefensible. They are associated with individuals or families of high status and their ostentatious architecture often reflects a high level of expenditure. The nature of the fortification varies, but can include moats, curtain walls, a gatehouse and other towers, gunports and crenellated parapets. Their buildings normally included a hall used as communal space for domestic and administrative purposes, kitchens, service and storage areas. In later houses the owners had separate private living apartments, these often receiving particular architectural emphasis. In common with castles, some fortified houses had outer courts beyond the main defences in which stables, brew houses, granaries and barns were located. Fortified houses were constructed in the medieval period, primarily between the 15th and 16th centuries, although evidence from earlier periods, such as the increase in the number of licences to crenellate in the reigns of Edward I and Edward II, indicates that the origins of the class can be traced further back. They are found primarily in several areas of lowland England: in upland areas they are outnumbered by structures such as bastles and tower houses which fulfilled many of the same functions. As a rare monument type, with fewer than 200 identified examples, all examples exhibiting significant surviving archaeological remains are considered of national importance. The medieval fortified house at Rochford Tower survives well as a series of standing remains and buried deposits. Rochford Tower is rare as one of an unusual group of medieval fortified houses on the edge of the Lincolnshire fenland. It will preserve valuable evidence of the way in which this group of high status sites inter-related as distinctive components of the medieval landscape. It is also a rare example of the early use of locally produced brick. Details The monument includes the standing and buried remains of a medieval brick fortified house at Rochford Tower. The house is believed to have been built in the late 15th to early 16th century, taking its name from the Rochford family, who were associated with the area from the 13th century. In 1504 the property was granted to the Abbot of Westminster and, from about 1600 until 1816, was owned by the Kyme family and became known as `Kyme Tower', although it was subsequently known as Rochford Tower. The building formerly included a two storey range adjoining the north side of the tower. This range was dismantled in 1807 when the present house was built again to the north of the tower. The monument includes the standing tower, which is a Listed Building Grade I, and the buried remains of the former range. The tower is rectangular in plan, measuring approximately 9m by 8m, and stands four storeys high, with a crenellated parapet and turrets at the angles of the tower. The structure is chiefly of red brick, laid in English bond, with stone window dressings. At ground floor level there is a brick vaulted chamber, or undercroft, which would have provided a storage or secure holding area. There is a later brick wall dividing the chamber in two. An entrance is provided in the east wall and an arched doorway in the north wall; there is also a small window in the west wall. Projecting from the south east corner is an octagonal turret with an external door at ground level leading to the stone stair which rises around a central pillar to provide access to the upper storeys and to the roof. The stair turret is lit by narrow vertical openings. The second storey chamber has a window opening in the west wall with ashlar dressings with a later, 17th century, window built into the original opening. In the north wall is a blocked doorway which formerly gave access to the adjoining range. The third and fourth storeys each have a blocked window with brick mouldings in the west wall. Fireplaces were provided in the south wall of the tower. The upper storeys of the tower would have provided private accommodation. The tower was formerly part of a larger building, shown by the bonding scars of a two storey range on the exterior of the northern wall of the tower. The range, forming part of the domestic accommodation, was provided with a communicating doorway to the tower at second storey level. The former range, running north from the tower, will survive as buried foundation remains with associated features. Rochford Tower is one of a number of fortified houses surviving within a small area of the Lincolnshire fenland. It has close architectural parallels with Hussey Tower, 3km to the west, and with Tower on the Moor at Woodhall Spa and Tattershall Castle, all constructed during the same period. The tower is an example of the early use of brick which was probably locally produced at Boston. All modern boundary walls are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included. Sources Books and journals Thompson, P, The History and Antiquities of Boston, (1856), 319-322 Smith, T P, 'Lincolnshire History and Archaeology' in Hussey Tower, Boston: A Late Medieval Tower-House Of Brick, , Vol. 14, (1979), 31-37

External Links (1)

Sources (2)

  •  Scheduling Record: English Heritage. 1999. Revised scheduling document 31626. 31626.
  •  Website: Historic England (formerly English Heritage). 2011->. The National Heritage List for England. 1016693.



Grid reference Centred TF 35086 44495 (19m by 20m)
Map sheet TF34SE

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Record last edited

Feb 11 2020 11:38AM


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