Previous excavations on the site
In 1933, Herbert Green an archaeologist carried out excavations at Greasley Castle Farm. His findings can be found at http://www.nottshistory.org.uk/articles/greasleycastle1934/greasleycastle1.htm . Greens work was limited and he wished for a group with adequate backing and materials to come forward and take on the task of discovering what Greasley Castle was all about. Seventy years later, unfortunately too late for Mr Green, that dream has been realised. The East Midlands Earthworks Project, part of the University of Nottingham and The Sherwood Forest Initiative, part of Nottinghamshire County Council are researching castles in the East Midlands. And Greasley Castle is at last undergoing a series of surveys to try to establish the exact layout of the Greasley Castle Farm Estate.
The East Midlands Earthworks Project
The EMEP have undertaken the mammoth task of researching the castle estate. Geophysical surveys and fieldwork have been carried out by Archaeologist Richard Skinner and his wife June. Their aim is to survey all of the ground within and around the castle boundaries and also the remains of buildings still standing. Geophysics results on a platform to the north of the property show at least three buildings and the platform is partly enclosed by a stone wall. Possible round stone towers may also have been located. A Coal Authority Map of 1798 shows a gatehouse in the south-western corner of the site, at the side of a track that appears to lead to nowhere.
Bolton and Newbury's 'Geography Through Fieldwork' claimed that the cross at Greasley Castle Farm is one of only six in the country, unfortunately they did not say what it was or how they had come by this information. It is possibly a Laburnum or a centre roof boss possibly from Beauvale Priory.
The Cowsheds - the photograph above shows a wall with possible wooden floor-joists in situe. Perhaps an indication of a two storey building.
This shows part of a doorway in the same building, re discovered in July 2004 by Richard Skinner, the archaeologist who is working on the site heading the EMEP team.
This is a view from the back of the wall showing no signs of the doorway. But floor-type joists can again be seen.
This is a piece of the original castle fixed into a later wall.
Part of the castle can been seen (Black Coloured) in a fireplace in the old smithy.
Castle doorway, its purpose within the castle tower has not yet been established. The wall behind also gives clues to the doorway.
North castle wall, with doorway on the far right . It has been reconstructed towards the far end.
Below are some original references to the castle...
Possibly in the year 1252 or not long after Hugh Fitz Ralph, owner of the manor of Greseley died. An inquisition was held at Greseley :
'Inquisition made at Gresselley the Wednesday after Palm Sunday concerning the lands and tenements which formerley belonged to Hugh, son of Ralph, in the county of Nottingham, how much those lands are all worth in issues, by Gilbert de Brumslley, Daniel de Wandisley, Robart Torkard in Kirkeby, Adam de Aldisworde, Richard de Stapilford, William Torkard, Adam le Marchal, Stephen de Brokelstene, Stephen Dufft of Watamhous, Thomas de Kumsley, Robert de Fenton, and Robert le Ciselim, who say upon their oath that the said Hugh of the manor of Greseley, with its appurtenances, from the fee of Peverell of Nottingham by the service of one knight to be made to the lord king, and they say that there are three carucates (300 acres?) of land, with a capital messuage, which are worth six pounds per annum. There are 60 oxgangs of land (750 acres?) which are worth fifteen pounds per annum, held by villeins. There are also free tenants who pay 43s. 9d. per annum, and one pound of pepper, and one pound of cummin. There are also 14 coterells (kind of cottagers a little better off than ordinairy villeins), each of whom pays 12 pence per annum. And there is one windmill there which pays 26s. 8d. per annum and one pigeon house worth 2s. per annum. And there is pasture there and wood worth 7s. 4d. And the advowson of the church , which is worth thirteen pounds six shillings and eight pence to the rector. And they say that the said Hugh also held from the Lord Archbishop of York one knights fee in the town of Muschamp. And they say that Eustachia is the daughter of Ralph, the son of Hugh, and is of full age, and the Lord Nicholas de Cantilupe holds her as wife. Total of the whole extent 26 13s 1d." Inq P.M. temp. Henry III., undated
Nicholas de Cantilupe probably died within a few years of Hugh Fitz Ralph because in 1275 jurors of Wythecall, Co. Lincoln, said that in 1267 a royal official had emptied the fish pond there, and carried away the fish, there by damaging the estate to the value of 10s. the villa being at that time in the hands of King Henry "because of the death of Nicholas de Cantilupe."In guardianship for his son and heir William who was only five or six years old.'
'Another descendent, Nicholas de Cantilupe gave to the Prior of his newley founded Beauvale Abbey, a mill and 40 acres of land in Gresley and Watnowe, and the lordship of a third part of his town of Selstone: and William le maistre, his bondsman, Richard son of Walter, his bondman, with a house and two acres of land at Watnowe,: Margaret Koc his bondwoman, with a house and twelve acres of land: Roger son of Geoffrey, his bondman, with a house and 17 acres; John Bridd, his bondman, with a house and 14 acres: John son of Reginald, his bondman, with two houses and 40 acres: Agnes Keyning, his bondwoman with a house and 18 acrs: Richard Maysly, with two houses and 35 acres : Gilbert Tailor, with a house and half an acre : Richard son of Geoffrey de Gresleye, with a house and six acres: with all the goods ofthe said bondmen and bondwomen, and all their offspring, and 16 s. 6d. of rent in Seleston, which Johanna, who was the wife of William Cressy, paid annually to the said Nicholas de Cantilupe: 2s. 4d. of rent which Richard de Tournur paid, and 20d. in Watnowe which Nicholas the Baxter paid, together with their services: and there remain to the said Nicholas, beside his grant fourty pounds worth of rent and lands in Ilkeston and twenty pounds worth of rents and lands in Greasley - Inq. ad Q. Damnum, 21 Edw III., 2nd Nos., No. 83 within a few weeks of this docment the plague raged throughout Europe, it hit the Midlands from Leicester through to York and it was claimed that nine out of ten people died, this may have been the time that the village of Greasley diminished and disappeared.'
'Eventually Agnes de Greasley married one Hugh FitzRalph (doubtlessly the Hugh FitzRanulf of the Torr Manuscripts), who was the first recorded Patron of Greasley, which was then a Rectory, of which we read in Domesday: “There was a church and priest, and wood pasture, nine quarantins long by six quarantins broad.” As there was a doubt whether Agnes or Isabella had been Ralph de Greasley’s wife, so there is a doubt as to who the Hugh FitzRalph was, who married their daughter Agnes; but it is held that he was the son of Ralph Wandesley, Lord of Selston. He was a widower when he married Agnes, having lost his first wife Idonea, and is said to have been one of the Barons who had taken up arms against King John to wring Magna Charta from the unwilling monarch. He rendered homage to Henry III., from whom in 1251 he, among other privileges, obtained a grant of free warren, dated April 10th, 36th Henry III. Hugh FitzRalph and Agnes his wife had two sons, the elder of which was named Ralph, and he had a daughter named Eustachia, who became sole heiress of all the property of the de Greasleys, and the de Muschamps of old together.Eustachia, who on the death of Hugh Fitz Ralph (or Ranuif) had become sole heiress, married Nicholas de Canteloupe, one of the younger sons of the De Canteloupe’s of Hertfordshire; but there is not much known of him. He died early, not living long after his marriage, and Eustachia had by him a son named William, who was born at Lenton Priory, where possibly she may have taken refuge in those turbulent times.'
'On the death of Hugh Fitz Ralph the usual post-mortem inquisition took place at Greasley. The jury consisted of Gilbert de Brinsley, Daniel de Wandesley, Robert Torkard in Kirkeby, Adam de Aldisworde, Richard de Stapilford, William Torkard, Adam le Marchal, Stephen de Brokelstone and others, and they found that Hugh Fitz Ralph (as recorded in Ilkeston, p. ii) died possessed (by the service of one Knight’s fee to the King) of 3 carucates of land, with a capital messuage; that there were 60 oxgangs of land held by villains, besides free tenants which paid 43s. 9d. per annum, one pound pepper and one pound cummm; that there were besides 14 coterells and 1windmill and pigeon house, and that there was also wood pasture, and the advowson of the Church, which was £13 6s. 8d. to the Rector, or about £270 in our money.'
The passages below talk about the town of Greasley....
'the said Monastery and Park of Gryseley adjoining, and three hundred acres of land, ten messuages, twelve bovats, with the appurtances of Gryseley, which Richard le Carter, John Pygot, Robert Newbell, John le Carter, Thomas Dey, Roger Pygot, Hugh son of Agnes, John le Maisterman, Henry le Cartre, Richard Sareson, Roger Dey, Thomas de Fulwode, and Hugh de Pynkeston, his natives and villains held of him in the said Town in Villanage, together with the said Villains, their Chattels, sequel and Sects.'
'Four years later, in 1347, the 21st of Edward III., another Deed of gift was executed at Gryseley on the 20th of October, to which the names of the same former witnesses were appended.......give five messuages, one mill, and forty acres of land, with the appurtenances in Gresley and Watnowe,......and divers small rents in Greseley,........and a messuage and six acres of land on the north side of the Castle in Greseley, which William de Beaurepayr held for life, and another of five acres and one rood of land, which William de Worthington and Agnes his wife held for life, on the north side of the Castle also, &c., &c.'
'The wording in the Calendar of Patent Rolls runs, “Licence to Nicholas Cantelupe to crenel-late his dwelling place of Gryseleye co. Notts.” Thoroton in recording the granting of the licence to Nicholas “to strengthen or fortify his manor house,” remarks, “from this time it was called a castle.” Calendar of Patent Rolls, Edward III., Vol. IV, 1338-1340. '
Peter Shaw of Watnall 7 April 1512
'On 6th April Peter Harden late of Greasley Castle 'Yoman", and Thomas Harden of Greasley Castle, 'laborer', lay in wait in the fields of Newthorpe and assaulted and beat Peter Shaw late of Watnall at Moor Green where they found him. Peter Harden gave him mortal wounds in four parts of his head with a staff worth 2d., while Thomas held him in his arms so that he could not move. Peter Harden also struck him in the throat with a dagger worth 12d., giving him a great wound 3 inches long, 2 inches wide and a foot deep, of which he died. Thus Peter and Thomas Harden feloniously murdered him, and immediately afterwards fled upon horses as felons about 7pm. Joan wife of Peter Harden late of Greasley Castle, 'huswif', on divers occasions feloniously encouraged and abetted her husband in the commission of the murder. Peter Shaw's first finder was William Clyfton of Watnall, a man of good standing and reputation.
Source: Nottinghamshire Coroners Inquests.'