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Broughton Castle


Broughton Castle has ornamental gardens covering about 1.5 hectares, surrounded by a moat, lying within a landscape park of about 37 hectares. The site originates in the 13th century, but the gardens were redesigned in the late 19th century, partly by Gertrude Jekyll, and were mostly replanted in the mid-20th century. The park was landscaped in the 18th century, possibly by Sanderson Miller, though 'A plan of the intended improvements' by John Davenport exists, dated 1791.


The moated house stands in a valley towards the south-east corner of the park, with ground rising gently to the west and more sharply to the east.

The following is from the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. For the most up-to-date Register entry, please visit the The National Heritage List for England (NHLE):

A medieval and later fortified manor house with lawns and walled garden, enclosed by a moat, with adjacent 18th-century landscape park.



Broughton Castle, with its grounds, bounds the west side of the village of Broughton, a north Oxfordshire village lying 4km south-west of the centre of Banbury. The c 37ha site is bounded largely by agricultural land, those boundaries being defined to the north by the Broughton to Shutford lane, and to the south by the Sor Brook. The moated house stands in a valley towards the south-east corner of the park, with ground rising gently to the west and more sharply to the east, at the confluence of the Sor Brook with two small feeders from the south and north. The B4035 Banbury to Shipston-on-Stour road, running north-east to south-west through the village, divides the house and moat from the wooded east park which clothes a steep hillside. The setting is largely rural, with the village lying adjacent, and a continuous line of low hills running from the south-west to south-east c 1km distant, terminating views to the south.


The main approach, from the north off the Broughton to Shutford lane, enters the park c 350m north of the house, past the two-storey stone lodge (c 1840, listed grade II), built in Tudor style. The entrance, set several metres back off the lane, is flanked to the east by a low stone wall and to the west by the lodge garden, which is bounded by an iron fence and low hedge. Passing between wooden gate piers, the drive curves south through the park, sited in a fairly level valley, with parkland rising gently up to the west. Some 200m north of the house the drive turns sharply east to face the west front of the church tower, continuing east and then turning south adjacent to the church. The drive continues south, straight across the small, two-arched stone bridge (medieval origin, listed grade I) over the moat, beneath the gatehouse tower, across the forecourt to the centre of the north front of the house, the view along the drive being aligned from adjacent to the church tower straight through to the front door on the north front.

The gravel drive encircles a rectangular panel of lawn at the centre of the forecourt, which is bounded to the east by the east arm of the moat, and to the north by the plain, single-storey, stone stable block (C15, listed grade I) and the adjacent two-storey gatehouse (C14, remodelled C15, listed grade I). The west boundary of the forecourt is formed by a partly crenellated, angled stone wall (listed grade I), attached at its north end to the gatehouse, with a raised walkway along the east, inner side enabling viewing of the park to the west. The south forecourt boundary is formed by the house. A gap between the house and the wall at the south-west corner of the forecourt gives access to the garden to the west and south. Views from here extend across the park to the west; the view east from the forecourt extends over the east arm of the moat and low-lying land, across the road, and up beyond this to the detached east park, now planted with trees. Buck's view (CL 1976) of the house in 1729 (with rather distorted perspective) shows the essential components of the forecourt much as today (1998), with the ruinous remains of a second drawbridge and gatehouse situated on the east side of the forecourt, and a wall leading north from here towards the stable block; these remains however are not depicted on maps of 1685 and 1724 and are not visible now.


Broughton Castle (C14, remodelled C15, C16, C18, restored G G Scott c 1860s, listed grade I) stands towards the south-east corner of the park, upon a 1.5ha island fully enclosed by the 1.5ha moat, the narrow east front standing adjacent to the east arm of the moat. The house is bounded to the north by the forecourt, and to the west and south by level lawns, borders, and against the west half of the south front, the rectangular walled Ladies' Garden, formerly part of the medieval service wing. The ironstone, narrowly rectangular building was remodelled in the mid C16 by Richard Fiennes to produce the Italianate north, entrance front, with its off-centre front door concealed within the eastern projecting bay which contains the porch. At this time the two south staircase towers were added, the western one with a viewing room at the top, the Council Chamber, with windows facing west, south and east. This may have been used as a rooftop banqueting house to overlook the surrounding garden and moat, with panoramic views over the countryside beyond to the south. From 1629 to 1640 this room was used clandestinely for meetings by those who opposed Charles I's government.

The former kitchen and service wing at the west end of the house was also remodelled in the mid C16 to contain the most prestigious apartments, overlooking the west lawn which may then have contained ornamental garden features, with views west over what is now park.

Sanderson Miller may have worked on the remodelling of various rooms in Gothic style in the 1760s, including the Great Hall and Long Gallery (Pevsner 1974).


The garden occupies the area of the moated island to the west and south of the house, and is largely laid to level lawns running down to the south and west edges of the moat. In 1970 Lanning Roper advised on the layout, and as a result the west border, running along the terrace walk on the east side of the west lawn, against the west side of the forecourt wall, was remodelled as a mixed border, with a blue, grey and yellow theme. The border continues south alongside the terrace walk, adjacent to the west wall of the Ladies' Garden, and is predominantly pink in colour. A low stone wall (C18, listed grade II) running parallel along the length of the west front divides this section of the terrace from the west lawn. At either end of the wall a short set of steps, flanked by piers with ball finials, gives access down to the lawn.

Adjacent to the west side of the south front stands the stone-walled garden known as the Ladies' Garden (listed grade I as part of the house), established in the 1880s on the site of earlier medieval service buildings. It contains a design of four box-edged fleur-de-lis beds set in gravel, with a central, circular camomile lawn and perimeter mixed borders. The Ladies' Garden is entered from the house via a small elevated doorway in the south wall of the house at the top of a flight of steps, and through doorways in the each of the other three garden walls. The doorway in the east wall leads onto a small lawn planted with several topiary yew cubes, with a further mixed border along the wall. A ruined arch, set within a stretch of wall projecting south from the south-east corner of the Ladies' Garden to the water, gives access back to the main, west lawn.

In the C17 (estate map, 1685) the west lawn was laid out as 'gardins', in three adjacent rectangles running from north to south, but the internal details are not known. By the late C19 (OS 1887) the west lawn was open, and the garden layout appeared similar to today. In the last years of the C19 and in the early C20 the estate was let to Lord Algernon Gordon Lennox, whose wife Blanche created various garden features, including a rose garden where the topiary lawn now stands and possibly the terrace walk on the west lawn. She also created a large, floral sundial with a topiary gnomon (CL 1901) in the south-west corner close to the moat, and planted the outer, south side of the moat as a wild garden. 'In a few short years, and with the aid of but four gardeners and a boy or two, great things have been achieved, and a long series of beautiful scenes has been created.' (CL 1898).


The park largely covers the valley and hillside west of the house and village, rising up to a plateau adjacent to the west boundary. Laid to pasture, it contains many clumps and single trees of varying ages, mostly oak, beech, lime and sycamores, with several small plantations towards the west boundary. A belt continues west from the north-west corner, providing extra shelter from the open agricultural land beyond. A pond with several islands has been dug (late C20) on the site of an earlier area of derelict woodland at the south-west corner of the park. The C14 church is a feature within the park, standing some 150m north of the house in its own churchyard, sheltered by mature trees, with its spire prominent in views east across the park. It is reached from the main drive via a late C20 spur east off the drive, constructed to give access to a car park adjacent to the north side of the churchyard, and via a path west off the B4035. Earthwork remains exist throughout the park, including the remains of a park fence and ditch, quarries and village earthworks.

The landscape park seems to have been laid out in the mid to late C18, possibly with advice from Sanderson Miller who lived in nearby Radway (qv) at the time in the 1760s when he may have been advising on the house. A scheme by John Davenport (1781) suggested further landscaping of the park, integrating the moat and house within the scheme, but this was never carried out. The present park occupies the site of several rectangular enclosures known as park areas during the late C17 and early C18 (estate maps, 1685, 1724).

East of the moat is an area of low-lying land straddling the northern feeder stream and beyond this, across the B4035, lies a detached area of park situated on a steeply rising hillside, now largely deciduous woodland, with some fine Scots pine specimens. This provides a backdrop for the view from the east side of the forecourt, and closes the view east from the rising park west of the house and church. This was open parkland in the late C19 (OS 1887), the southern end having been enlarged northwards from an enclosed area known from the C17 to the early C19 as The Warren (estate maps, 1685, 1724, c 1810 (copied 1848)).


The rectangular kitchen garden, situated 200m north-east of the house, is surrounded by walls with lengths of varying brick and stone construction and is entered through a gateway in the west wall. It is still cultivated, although the glasshouses present c 1900 (OS 1900) have gone (1997). The ground slopes up to the east, to the gabled, ironstone Warren Lodge (dated 1877), built in Tudor style and standing in the elevated south-east corner, overlooking the walled garden and church. Built originally as the gardener's cottage, the Lodge has now (1997) been converted to offices. A late C20 stone gardener's cottage has been constructed in the north-east corner.

REFERENCES Used by English Heritage

Country Life, 4 (17 December 1898), pp 756-63; 10 (7 December 1901), pp 754-5; (14 December 1901), pp 786-8; 11 (22 February 1902), pp 230-2; 160 (2 December 1976), pp 1636-9; (9 December 1976), pp 1758-61; (16 December 1976), pp 1834-7; no 47 (25 November 1993), pp 54-7

Victoria History of the County of Oxfordshire 9, (1969), pp 85-92

N Pevsner and J Sherwood, The Buildings of England: Oxfordshire (1974), pp 493-8

Broughton Castle, guidebook, (1984)

Broughton Castle, guidebook, (around 1997)


A Bryant, Map of the County of Oxford ..., surveyed 1823

A plan of the parish of Broughton, 1805 (Oxfordshire County Record Office)

OS 6" to 1 mile: 1st edition published 1887; 2nd edition published 1900

OS 25" to 1 mile: 1st edition published 1880; 2nd edition published 1900

[The following maps are all held in a private collection but the OCRO holds copies.]

A Geograffical description of Broughton Lordship ..., 1685

A map of the adjoining Manors of Broughton and Shutford ... belonging to Thomas Twistleton, 1724

A plan of the estate at Broughton ... belonging to ... Lord Saye and Sele, around 1810, copied 1848

Description written: April 1998

Amended: April 1999

Edited: January 2000

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts


01295 276070

Access contact details

Open at Easter; Wednesdays and Sundays, also Bank Holiday Mondays, May to September. Also Thursdays, July and August. 2pm to 5pm only. Please see:


3 miles from the M40, 23 miles north of Oxford.


Lord Saye and Sele


The following is from the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. For the most up-to-date Register entry, please visit the The National Heritage List for England (NHLE):


Broughton Castle was probably begun by Sir John of Broughton (died 1315). William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester and founder of New College, Oxford (see description of this site elsewhere in the Register), bought the manor in 1377. It subsequently passed by marriage into the Fiennes family via Margaret Wykeham, who married Sir William Fiennes, second Lord Saye and Sele in 1448. The house was gradually enlarged and fortified during the 15th and 16th centuries, and, following the nearby Battle of Edgehill in 1642, was laid siege by the Royalists who captured and occupied it. The park was landscaped in the later 18th century, possibly around the time when Sanderson Miller may have advised on gothick decoration for the interior of the house. The house remains (1998) a family home.


  • 18th Century (1701 to 1800)
  • Late 18th Century (1775 to 1799)
Associated People
Features & Designations


  • The National Heritage List for England: Register of Parks and Gardens

  • Reference: GD2090
  • Grade: II


  • Herbaceous Border
  • Shrub Border
  • Lawn
  • Parterre
  • Topiary
  • Moat
  • Castle (featured building)
  • Latest Date:
  • Pond
  • Description: With several islands
  • Brook
  • Description: Sor Brook
Key Information





Principal Building

Domestic / Residential


18th Century (1701 to 1800)





Open to the public


Civil Parish