Welcome to one of the Finest Medieval Houses in England
Northborough Manor, also known as Northborough Castle, is a fortified manor house situated on the Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire border. It is a rare and exquisite example of domestic Medieval architecture.
The Gatehouse is a separate building which stands opposite the Manor. It was built in the 17th Century and used by Oliver Cromwell as a garrison during the Civil War. It has recently been restored, and comprises four bedrooms with excellent facilities. Available for hire, this unique and extraordinary house is an ideal base to explore the local countryside, immerse yourself in its history, and entertain your family and friends.
Visitors to Northborough are always incredibly welcome, however, the house is privately owned, and visits must be made by appointment in advance.
To schedule a visit, please do so via our Contact page.
History of the House
Northborough Manor was built by Roger de Northburgh, Bishop of Lichfield, between 1330 and 1340. It was originally intended to be larger, but Roger encountered difficulties with the builders. The house was built out of coursed stone rubble with freestone dressings, the steeply pitched roofs made from Collyweston stone with gabled ends. The west gable of the hall is of particular interest with its embellishments of leaf crockets, leading up to a unique hexagonal chimney. The Manor House boasts a beautiful Great Hall, in which can be found a rare example of medieval decorative stonework in the form of three crocketed ogee heads within ogee gables.
Above: Decorative Stonework in the Great Hall
Opposite stands the stone Gatehouse also built in the 1330s, but to which a range of buildings were added in the seventeenth century. Bridges, the great eighteenth century architectural historian, spoke of the “noble gatehouse with spacious stone arches and mouldings, and chambers over it”. Sadly the chambers and vaulting are gone, but the original circular stairs remain and are now a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
At the Northern end of the Gatehouse lies the large pointed arch which provides access to the central courtyard. The Gatehouse had neither a portcullis nor a drawbridge, but together with the surrounding walls and buildings formed a protection around the house.
Above: Original Gatehouse Circular Staircase
Below: Oliver Cromwell
The Manor was sold to James Claypole in 1565. His son who succeeded him was knighted and died in 1630. It was retained by the Claypole family until it was sold in 1681 to Lord Fitzwilliam. While owned by the Claypoles the house was regularly visited by Oliver Cromwell whose daughter Elizabeth married John Claypole. He is known to have spent many Christmases there and his former bedroom above the porch has been nicknamed "Cromwell's Closet" ever since. He is also known to have used the Gatehouse as a strategic garrison during the Civil War.
Below: John Clare
In 1832 the village of Northborough became home to the celebrated English poet, John Clare. Considered one of the greatest 19th-century poets, his subjects focussed mainly on nature and rural life. Clare often wrote of his daily encounters and while a resident in the village, composed the following poem about Northborough Manor:
Absorbing time that all things overwhelms
Will round the castle ancient thoughts recall
The fragment of a moat the tripple elms
The cannon holes that pierce the massy wall
The ancient arching gateway striding high
Where cromwells stubborn army entered through
The castle barn the stranger passes bye
& the old house which many a pencil drew
Some dim seen paintings triump[h] on the walls
& travellers still the antique rooms admire
Where my lords parlour still the past recalls
Where Cromwell doubtless would from strife retire
The locked up room where superstition sleeps
& cromwells memory in dread mystery keeps
During the course of the nineteenth century the house fell into a state of disrepair. Fortunately the house underwent an intense period of modernisation and renovation in the 1970s when it came into the ownership of the notable horticulturalist Roy Genders. He removed many of the seventeenth century alterations to the house, restoring the original medieval layout. In the 1990s the house was purchased by Mr and Mrs J. Trevor who restored the private apartments of the manor house and transformed the gardens.
Above: Watercolour from 1830
Today the house is privately owned. The current owners have restored the Gatehouse and are focusing on ways to bring the Manor into the twenty-first century using sympathetic conservation techniques, along with the use of technology. The house is not open to the public, but they enjoy welcoming visitors who are interested in sharing in the rich history of the building. To schedule a visit, please do so via the Contact page below.