Kirby Muxloe Castle near Leicester

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Kirby Muxloe Castle near Leicester (1917) 007.jpeg




By C. R. peers, M.A., Sec. S.A.






(6) Wt. 10770(1)— 323 5,000 1/17 C.P. G.51



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History of the Building
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THE connection of the Hastings family with Kirby Muxloe began with the marriage of Sir Ralph Hastings to Margaret, daughter of Sir William Herle, who held Kirby Muxloe in the time of Edward I and II. Sir Ralph Hastings died in 1346, and his son Sir Ralph, born about 1334, inherited Kirby as the heir of Sir Robert Herle, son of Sir William. In 1436 Sir Richard Hastings died possessed of property in Kirby, which Sir Leonard Hastings also held at his death in 1455. His son, Sir William Hastings, born about 1430, was the builder of Kirby Muxloe Castle. He was a strong supporter of the Yorkist cause, and closely attached to Richard, Duke of York, father of Edward IV. On Edward's accession he was appointed Chamberlain of the Royal household and Master of the Mint, and Chamberlain of North Wales (1461). In 1463 he became Receiver of the revenues of the Duchy of Cornwall, and in 1471 Lieutenant of Calais. He was summoned to Parliament in 1461 as Lord Hastings of Hastings, having shortly before this acquired the castle, barony, and honour of Hastings. In 1462 he was installed Knight of the Garter. He conducted various important embassies, and played a large part in the restoration of Edward to the throne after his temporary overthrow in 1470, commanding the third division at the decisive battle of Barnet in 1471. Though in high favour with Edward throughout his reign, he was not on good terms with the Queen, and at Edward's death in 1483 was considered to be rather a partisan of Richard, Duke of Gloucester, than of the Queen-mother and her son Edward V. But the duke was evidently suspicious of him, and at a council meeting held in the Tower of London on 14 June 1483 denounced him as a traitor, and had him taken out and beheaded on the spot. The scene in Shakespeare's Richard III is well known to everyone. In this connection it is interesting to note the tradition that Jane Shore lived for a time at Kirby. He was buried in St. George's Chapel, Windsor, in the north aisle of the choir, in a chapel which was made for him in his lifetime, doubtless as a mark of the King's friendship, and still exists. He married Katherine, daughter of Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury, and widow of William Bonville, Lord Harington.

Lord Hastings was one of the foremost men of his day, and his reputation was as great abroad as at home.

Philippe de Commines, the French chronicler, described him as a man of honour and prudence and of great authority with his master, and deservedly, upon account of the faithful service he had done him. It was De Commines who in 1471 secured his support for the Duke of Burgundy, by means of a "pension" of 1,200 florins. And when De Commines transferred his allegiance from the duke to Louis XI of France, he advised the King to enlist the sympathies of Hastings on his own side if it could be done. A "pension" of 2,000 crowns proved effective, but Hastings' acceptance of the bribe is a lesson in the art of preserving self-respect while in the pay of a foreign monarch. Louis XI sent his steward, Pierre Cleret, to London with the 2,000 crowns in gold—his "pensions" were always paid in this handsome manner—and with instructions to obtain a signed receipt for them, "that hereafter it might appear upon record that the lord chamberlain, chancellor, admiral, master of the horse, and several other great lords of England, had been at the same time pensioners to the King of France" But Lord Hastings, alone of all the "pensioners," refused to give a receipt, and told the steward that the present proceeded from the French King's generosity, and not from any request of his. "If you have a mind that I should receive it," said he, "you may put it into my sleeve, but neither letter nor acquittance will you get from me: for it shall never be said of me, that the High Chamberlain of England was pensioner of the King of France, nor shall any receipt be ever produced in his chamber of accounts." And to this he stood firm, in spite of Cleret's pathetic representations that Louis would certainly accuse him of embezzling the money if he returned without a receipt. Louis, however, quite appreciated the position, and continued to pay the "pension" regularly, and never asked for a receipt.

Hastings was a man of great wealth, having been enriched by grants of forfeited Lancastrian estates, and in addition drew considerable revenues from his various state offices. By his marriage he acquired further lands and revenues, and the foreign "pensions," already referred to, added considerably to his resources. He was therefore well able to indulge his taste for fine buildings, and his work at Ashby-de-la-Zouch and at Kirby gives a good idea of his conceptions of architecture. Ashby is altogether on a larger and more ambitious scale than Kirby, but in both places the principle is the same; a domestic building of moderate defensive strength has been converted into a fortified house. (It appears from the accounts that the old house at Kirby had a gatehouse and drawbridge, base towers, and middle towers.) Ashby is the stronger of the two, and much more comparable to the purely military buildings of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, but the essential difference is at once evident; in the early castles defence is the first object, and convenience of inhabitation secondary, but Ashby is first of all a great man's house. Lord Hastings came into possession of Ashby in 1461, its former owner having been James Buder, Earl of Ormond, a Lancastrian who, after the battle of Towton Moor, in 1460, was beheaded at Newcastle. His estates were forfeited to the Crown, and Edward IV granted Ashby to Lord Hastings. A third Hastings estate in Leicestershire was Bagworth, and on 17 April 1474 Lord Hastings obtained a licence to fortify his three houses of Ashby, Bagworth, and Kirby, and to make parks of 3,000 acres at the first, and of 2,000 acres at each of the others. If anything was done at Bagworth it was not carried far, for Leland, writing about 1540, says that he only saw there "the Ruines of a Manor Place, like a Castelle building." This might very aptly be applied to Kirby to-day; but at Bagworth the site is now marked by mounds only. Kirby, as we know from the building accounts which are fortunately extant, was not begun till 1480, and was left unfinished at Lord Hastings' death. The work at Ashby was well advanced before Kirby was begun, and Ashby remained the principal seat of the family. Its great tower, which is only comparable in England to Lord Cromwell's great tower at Tattershall, is even in its present mutilated state a magnificent thing, and a lasting witness to the wealth and power of its first owner. A fourth building in the county, finer and more important than even Ashby, received very different treatment at his hands. This was Belvoir Castle, granted to him in 1461 as forfeited Lancastrian property, having belonged to Thomas, Lord de Ros. Leland's account of the matter is as follows: "Believer Castelle," he says, "was put in keeping to the Lord Hastinges, the which cumming thither apon a tyme to peruse the ground and lye in the Castel was sodenly repellid by Mr. Harington a man of poure therabout and frende to the Lord Rose. Wherapon the Lord Hastinges cam thither another tyme with a strong poure, and apon a raging wylle spoilid the castelle, defacing the rofes and takyng the leades of them, wherwith they wer al coverid. The Lord Hastinges caryed much of this leade to Ascheby de la Zouche, wher he much buildid. Then felle alle the castelle to ruine, and the tymbre of the rofes onkeverid rottid away and the soile betwene the waulles at the last grue ful of elders, and no habitation was there tyl that of late dayes the Erie of Rutland hath made it fairer than ever it was." This was written about 1540. The old buildings, thus repaired, remained till 1800, when an ill fate brought them into the hands of Wyatt the architect, with the result which may be seen to-day.

The connection of the Hastings family with Kirby lasted till about 1630, when the manor came into the hands of Sir Robert Banaster.

The present owner of the castle is Major Richard Winstanley of Braunstone Hall, who placed the building under the guardianship of the Commissioners of Works in 1911.

The repair and clearing of the castle and its moat was begun in the same year and finished in 1913. The moat, which was partly silted up and partly filled with rubbish, was entirely cleared and its sluices repaired and put in working order. Very little was found during the clearing, beyond a few stones from the parapets; anything that could be used as building material having been taken away from time to time. The tower and gatehouse were covered with ivy, and bushes and trees grew on the wall tops; and only the excellence of the mortar had kept the masonry from complete ruin. The chief damage to the brickwork of those parts of the castle which had survived was at the line of the water level in the moat. The action of frost on the wet masonry had split away the facework to a depth of a foot and more, about five feet in height of the wall being affected. The bases of the walls, having never been exposed to the air, were perfectly preserved for a height of three feet. The facework was repaired, in order to protect the core of the walls against further decay when the moat was again filled with water, with old bricks obtained in the neighbourhood, which without being of the same kind as the original bricks of the castle, were sufficiently alike to harmonize with them. The west and south angles of the west tower were in a dangerous condition, much of the brickwork having fallen away, and were made good in similar brick. While the cores of the walls were as a rule sound, the pointing mortar in the joints was generally decayed, especially in the parapets and upper parts of the walls. The brick vaults having long stood exposed to the weather were very damp, and had to be made waterproof by resetting their covering masonry in cement and Medusa compound.

In the course of clearing and levelling the area within the castle the foundations of the older manor house, of which all traces had been lost, were discovered, and they have been left exposed, being easily distinguishable from the work of Lord Hastings.


KIRBY MUXLOE CASTLE lies low and near a stream, in order to get an ample supply of water for the moat which surrounds it and forms its principal defence. It is planned as a rectangle 175 feet from north-west to south-east by 245 feet from north-east to south-west, with square towers at the four angles, a gatehouse in the middle of the north-west side, and towers of greater projection than the angle towers midway (except on the south-east) in each of the other sides. The internal measurements of the court were about 100 feet by 160 feet. For reasons already given, the castle was left unfinished, but enough remains to show that the gatehouse and towers were to be of three stories in height, joined to each other by two-storied ranges of buildings which did not, like the towers, rise directly from the waters of the moat, but were set back, leaving rampart walks defended by low walls between them and the moat. The main entrance to the castle was through the gatehouse on the north-west side, but there seem to have been posterns on the south-east and south-west.

The history of the building can be set forth in detail, owing to the fortunate discovery among the Hastings papers at Ashby-de-la-Zouch Castle of the complete building accounts from 22 October 1480 (20 Edward IV) to 6 December 1484 (2 Richard III). The total expenditure for the four years was £1,088 17s. 6¾d., made up as follows : The first year £330 3s.; the second, £397 5s. 8¼d.; the third, £300 8s. 6½d. and the fourth, £61 Os. 4d. The significant smallness of the last year's expenses, made by order of Lady Katherine Hastings, after her husband's execution, needs no further comment.

The Controller or Clerk of the Works was Roger Bowlett, Bowlot, or Boulot, who acknowledges the receipt of £989 6s. 8d. given in instalments at various times at Birdnest, Kirby, Ashby, and Ley. At the end of the accounts is a summary in which the receipts are given as £994 18s. 2d., and the expenses as £993 17s. 6¾d., or exactly £95 less than the actual sum of the yearly totals.

When the work began, in October 1480, the site was already

Kirby Muxloe Castle near Leicester (1917) 018.jpg

occupied by a moated house, approached through a gatehouse with a drawbridge. The moat was probably smaller than the present one, and in setting out the new building the old gate-house and several other buildings were cleared away. The hall and the north wing, containing the principal living rooms, were, however, retained to form part of the new house, and their foundations may be seen to-day, within the lines of Lord Hastings' work. So little of the older building is left that its date must be a matter of conjecture; perhaps the middle of the fourteenth century. The hall was of two bays, with the screens at the south-west end, entered through porches. The lines of buttery and pantry and the passage to the kitchen are to be seen, but nothing of the kitchen itself is left; a stone drain runs southward from its site. East of the hall, where the solar or great chamber should be, the foundations have been destroyed, and there are traces of a cobbled path running south-eastward across its site and as far as the moat; this has probably to do with later farm buildings, of which some rough foundations were found in the course of clearing the site. The north-east wing of the old house shows two projecting chimney breasts on the east side, with the pit of a garderobe between them; all the walls of this date are of stone, and it can here be seen how they were thickened with brickwork when incorporated in the later work of Lord Hastings. In December 1480 the tiled roofs of the hall and various chambers were being repaired, and throughout the winter stores of rough stone and of timber were collected for use in the new work. In February 1481 the old gatehouse was being pulled down, and in March and April the débris of the destroyed buildings was removed, and timber for a new-bridge prepared. The site of the old buildings is called the inner court, or the placea, the manor-place, or simply manerium, the manor.

In May 1481 the work begins in earnest, and the first mention of a master-mason at eightpence a day occurs. His name does not occur till some six weeks later, where he is called John Cowper; the leading freemason under him was Robert Steynforth, and it is worth noting that a considerable proportion of the men seem to have been Welshmen, as John and Hugh Powell, William Griffith, and Maurice Aprice. Carpenters are now making a forge, scaffold poles, etc., and squaring timbers for the bridge and the postern over the new brook, and for what are perhaps a second bridge and postern "made afresh towards the new park." This is the park enclosed by licence of 1474. The moat is being dug out and the lines of the new court laid down. A delightfully polyglot entry, typical of the mixture of Latin, French, and English in which the accounts are made out, records the buying of "iiij peciae maeremii vocatae le polles pro iiij Corneriis pro levelyng le erthe infra muros," that is, "four pieces of timber called poles for the four corners for levelling the earth within the walls." Freestone is quarried at Alton and brought to Kirby, the bricklayers are also at work, and hurdles, the mediaeval substitute for the modern scaffold boards, are being made. In July the foundations for the walls of the courtyard are being dug, and rough stone foundations for the brick walls laid. A shed for the masons to work in was put up, and in August oak boards were being prepared, from which templates of mouldings were to be cut for use by the masons. The sides of the moat were being set out and finished, under the superintendence of one Davy Bell, and entries occur constantly of payments to men watching in the moat at night lest a sudden rise in the brook should flood the moat before the banks were complete or the walls carried up above the intended water level. The laying out of the moat seems to have been finished by the middle of September, and the regular payments to "dykers" cease from this time. The work of pulling down the old buildings continues, and straw, fern, and hurdles are provided for covering the new and unfinished walls and towers against the coming winter frosts. In October John Cowper, the master-mason, goes to Tattershall and back by order of Lord Hastings; Robert Steynforth had done the same thing on behalf of the master-mason in June; doubtless in order to take notes of the treatment of the brick and stone masonry there. Through the winter of 1481-2 the work of demolition of old buildings goes on, materials are collected and stored, and roads made. In March 1482 the "Basse tours" and "mydultours" of the old house are being pulled down, and the building of new "basse tours " begins in April. The gatehouse is being replaced by that which now exists, the rough masons working on its foundations in May and June. In April is an entry, "circa facturam le murther holies de novo," "for making the murder holes anew." This cannot refer to the "meurtrières"—holes through which missiles of many kinds could be hurled on the heads of attacking parties—in the gatehouse, as that building was then only just begun, and there is not enough now left of the castle to suggest an alternative place. Floors and windows are put into some of the towers in May and June 1482, and by September and October the towers are nearly finished and covered in. In November 41 cwt. of lead is brought "from the Abbey"—not further described—and added to 33 cwt. already at Kirby; John Smythson the plumber sees to the melting of it. Building work goes on without a break through the winter, which must have been a mild one, and in January 1483 the centering for the vault over the gatehouse is being made. The new bakehouse and kitchen are now prepared for, their sites being levelled, and in February the gatehouse vault seems to be finished, and bricks are being laid over it. In March is an entry for "botaillying in lee vootte," which perhaps means filling in the haunches of the vault, and preparations are being made for the bridge leading to the gatehouse, the remains of which have lately been discovered. In March 1483 the foundations of the new kitchen are being laid, and at this date occurs an interesting account for brickmaking. Bricks seem to have been supplied by John Vaux or Fauxe, but the kiln in which they were burned is called John Eles Kiln. The burning of the bricks was under the charge of one Antony "Docheman," who was paid tenpence a week, as against eightpence for ordinary men, and was clearly a foreigner, a Fleming probably. He is mentioned later on as Antony Yzebrond, and is then working as a bricklayer. He burned 100,000 bricks in the kiln in a week, using 78 loads of wood, that is to say, brushwood and small stuff, and to make the newly-cut green wood burn he added "spyldyng," presumably dry twigs or the like. The site of the kiln, called the Breeke place, or Breke house, was evidently at no great distance from the castle, and affords one more proof, if proof were needed, that mediaeval bricks were commonly made in England and not imported. At the same time, the employment of a Fleming to superintend their making is worthy of note.

In December 1481, and again in April 1483, it is recorded that worked stones from "Swarston" Bridge (Swarkestone, Derbyshire) were brought for use at Kirby; evidently freestone was hard to get, and the temptation to despoil old buildings not to be resisted. The stones were used for the corbels of the machicolations, and probably the slabs resting on them. In May lead pipes and gutters were being fixed and soldered. Lord Hastings was beheaded on 14 June of this year, and his fall is reflected in the progress of Kirby Castle. The bricklayers and masons stop work at once, and from 23 June till 1 September accounts are rendered every three weeks instead of weekly. Practically nothing is done, but by September affairs have settled down, and the masons and bricklayers begin again. John Lyle travels between Ashby and Kirby " to speak with the Council," but the nature of his errand is not stated.

Work goes on with roofing of towers and laying floors over the vault (of the gatehouse?) till November, when thatch is put on the towers and gatehouse for protection against the winter. The masons go on working through the winter, but the amount done is small in comparison with former years, and all through 1484 the work continues on this small scale, only £61 being spent in the whole year down to 6 December. Here the accounts end, and it is impossible to say whether anything more was done. The gatehouse was being thatched in September 1484, and this being only a temporary protection shows that it was still unfinished at this date.

The accounts are full of interesting details, technical and topographical, and would well repay printing in full. Freestone was nearly all quarried at Alton, but rough stone for foundations came from a number of places, as Bardon Hills, also called Barnhills and Baronhilles, Tiptree Hill, Ratby, Groby, Shawe, Steward Hey, and the Waste. Lime came from Barrow, sand from le Golet or Gullet, and lead from "Wortesworthe Bolles." Timber came from Loughborough Park, Bardon Park, Osbaston Wood, Sheepshed, Bradgate Park, Borough Spring, Crampes Hey, Colton Hey, Newbould, and the "new College of leye."


THE castle stands back from the road running through Kirby Village, and is approached by a farm road which leads directly to the bridge and gatehouse on the north-west front. The moat has been completely cleared to its original width and depth, and being cut in the stiff marl which underlies the surface soil, the slope of its banks and level of its bed were perfectly evident. Its greatest width from north-east to south-west is 300 feet, and from south-east to north-west, 360 feet; the width of the arms at water level varying from 45 feet in the south-west arm to 70 feet in the north-east. In clearing its north-west arm the remains of an oak bridge were found, and may still be seen between the supports of the new bridge; it is reasonable to suppose that they belong to the bridge begun in 1483. At the inner end there was a drawbridge the position of which, with the holes through which its chains passed, and the pit which underlies part of the gateway passage, are still to be seen. Low parapet walls rose from the side walls of the pit, where they projected into the moat beyond the front of the gatehouse. A portcullis, the chase of which may still be seen, defended the gateway passage at its outer end, and there were pairs of doors at both ends of the passage, opening inwards. The outer doors, which had a wicket in the western leaf, have survived in a very ruinous state: they are of very plain workmanship for so prominent a position, and this may well be due to the failure of funds which followed Lord Hastings' execution. The gatehouse is built of thin red bricks, varied with patterns in black: above the gateway are the builder's initials, "W H"; on the right-hand turret the maunch or sleeve which formed the arms of Hastings, and above it a ship; on the left-hand turret what seems to be the lower half of the figure of a man. All angles are of brick, stone being used only for doorways, windows, and string courses. The four-centred arch of entrance is set in a square-headed stone-faced recess which runs up to the string course marking the first floor level, and was designed to contain the drawbridge when raised. Above it is a square-headed niche with a panelled base and carved ornament in head and jambs, which was intended to hold the arms of the builder. On either side of it are two-light windows with transoms, lighting a large room over the gate. The plan of the gatehouse is a rectangle with octagon turrets at the four corners, those towards the court containing newel stairs, while those towards the moat have small rooms on each floor, giving access to garderobes at the north and west of the gatehouse. The shafts of these garderobes do not discharge into the moat, but into vaulted chambers opening to the rampart walks. All the ground floor rooms of the gatehouse are vaulted in brick, but the vault of the gatehouse passage has fallen. The rooms on either side of the passage served as guardroom and porter's

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lodge, and each contains a large fireplace and a two-light window towards the court: the porter's room has also a window towards the passage. There is no connection between these rooms and the staircases, which are entered from the courtyard, but doorways lead from them to the ground floor rooms in the north and west turrets. These turrets have basements, the earthen floors of which are below the water level of the moat, but were originally intended to be yet lower, by what must have been a miscalculation of levels. The embrasures and ports for small cannon are the most notable feature of the gatehouse; there are two in each of the ground floor rooms of the turrets, one at the north-west end of the guardroom and porter's lodge respectively, and two more in the basement of each turret, but these are well below the water level of the moat, and must have been useless from the first; they can only be seen when the moat is nearly dry. The gunports are circular and have over them a narrow slit ten inches high for sighting; they are widely splayed inwards and their sills are at the same level as the floor, so that the mounting of these small guns must have been of the slightest description. The first floor of the gatehouse has one large room with fireplaces at north-east and south-west, and had four two-light transomed windows towards the court and two overlooking the moat. The floor is of two layers of brick, laid flat on the crown of the vaults below; this work can be dated from the accounts to February 1483. The portcullis and drawbridge were worked from this room, but it was certainly intended to be a living room also and was perhaps divided into two by a wooden partition. There was another story above it, but this no longer exists and was perhaps never finished. It was presumably for the front of the gatehouse that the stones from Swarkeston Bridge were being worked into machicolations in April 1483. The garderobe chamber in the north turret on the first floor level has been made into a pigeon house in later times.

The ranges of buildings running north-east and south-west from the gatehouse were designed with two stories having embattled parapets towards the moat, but little of them exists beyond the broken wall-ends on the gatehouse, with remains of fireplaces, and the toothings on the west tower, and the condition of these latter suggests that the work came to an end before the ranges were finished.

The west tower is the best preserved part of the castle, and shows clear evidence of having been completely finished. It is in plan a square of 25 feet projecting 6 feet into the moat from the line of the revetment wall, and has square turrets on the north-east and south-west, the former containing a newel stair and the latter the garderobes, the shafts of which discharge like those of the gatehouse into a chamber opening on the rampart walk. The tower is of three stories, with a splayed plinth at the ground floor level, and weathered strings at the first and second floors; the two turrets rise one story higher. The wall tops are embattled, with stone copings to the vents and crests, and the roofs were leaded and flat or of very low pitch. The general masonry details are like those of the gatehouse, but the patterns in black brick are simpler. Each room is lighted by a two-light window, and also by two single light windows in the re-entering angles at north and south. The fireplaces have plain arched brick heads, and two of the three octagonal brick chimney shafts remain. The accommodation on each floor is the same, namely a large room with a small room off it, by which a garderobe is reached; the first floor of the gatehouse, as has been seen, is similarly arranged, though differently planned. Such sets of rooms were called lodgings,

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and were used for the household staff and for guests and their servants. The ground floor room has six gunports, like those in the gatehouse, namely one on the north, two on the north-west, two on the south-west, and one on the south. There is also a gunport on the north-east side of the stair turret, commanding the rampart walk. These loopholes for cannon are among the earliest examples in the country, and belong to a primitive stage of the science of gunnery. The diameter of the gunport is smallest at the wall face, instead of having a wide outer splay, and in consequence the gun only commands a line exactly in front of the port. The gun in the north-east side of the tower would therefore discharge its shot directly at the west wall of the west turret of the gatehouse, only 20 yards away, while that in the stair turret of the same tower would bombard the garderobe chamber of the gatehouse at a range of only 15 yards. And the same thing would have happened on every rampart walk all round the castle!

With the exception of a short length of walling to the north-east of the gatehouse, which shows the remains of a projecting bay and a fireplace next to it, none of the rest of Lord Hastings' work now stands higher than a few courses above the level of the ground floor. But it is clear that the plan of the north tower, and doubtless of the east and south towers also, was the same as that of the west tower. Little can be said of the "middle" towers on each side, but the fact that that on the south-east front is pushed considerably to the south of the centre line, suggests that it was intended to build a great hall between it and the east tower. The old hall would then have been taken down and the courtyard levelled. The kitchen, on this scheme, would have been at the south of the south-east range, and it is quite possible, in view of the absence of foundations on the site of the older kitchen, that it was at any rate begun, and is that referred to in the accounts for March 1483. It will be noted that the drain on the site of the old kitchen runs directly towards the garderobes in the east side of the south tower, just as the drain which starts from the south-east side of the old hall turns towards those on the north-west side of the east tower.

The details of the brickwork of the castle deserve careful study. The spiral vaults of the stairs, springing from the brick newels, are as skilful in construction as they are effective in appearance, and the domed vaults of the octagonal chambers in the gatehouse, with the brick corbels to carry the wooden centering on which the vaults were built, are well worth examining. Such detail as occurs on the brickwork was evidently the work of the "brickhewers" mentioned in the accounts, and there is nothing to suggest that any bricks were shaped or moulded before burning.

An outer court is mentioned in the building accounts, and the ground to the west of the moat shows signs of having been laid out, although no foundations are now to be seen except those of a square dovecot. There is, however, a well to the north-west not far from the present road, and doubtless more might be found if this area were explored.

The arrangements for the supply of water to the moat are interesting. The brook and the little brook mentioned in the earliest entries in the accounts (October 1480) are doubtless much the same to-day. A masonry dam has been built across the brook just below the point where the little brook branches off to supply the moat. When the stream is low the water passes under the dam through a hollowed oak log, which could be blocked by a plug in a square hole at its up stream end, thus holding up a sufficient head of water for the moat. Across the mouth of the little brook are the remains of a grate of oak stanchions set diagonally, to prevent leaves, twigs, and rubbish being carried down towards the moat. Where this brook joins the moat is a second dam, with a sluice beneath it opening from a vertical brick shaft, which can be blocked like the log at the upper dam by a wooden plug. When the shaft was cleared this plug was found still in position, and was a four square block of wood tapering from 5 inches to 3 inches, covered with leather to make it fit tightly in the socket of the sluice. The outlet sluice of the moat at the north-east was very ruinous when cleared, and a modern sluice box has been set in the base of its masonry dam, to allow the moat to be emptied when necessary. In the little brook, a few yards above its junction with the moat, there is an arrangement for diverting its water to the main stream, when it was desired to cut off the supply to the moat; this consists of a hollow log like that in the dam across the brook, through which the water can run into a stone drain leading southeast to the brook. A sluice gate at the junction of the two brooks would have been a more obvious device, but the reason for the existing arrangement is that on the course of the little brook there was a stew pond—possibly more than one—the water of which it was not desirable to drain off except at rare intervals.

In the accounts references occur to a bridge and postern over the new brook, followed by the mention of a bridge and postern towards the new park, and it is not clear whether the two entries refer to two bridges or to one only. In any case there is no evidence of the existence of a third stream.

The site of the garden and orchard, often mentioned in the accounts, probably lay to the north and west of the castle, but this is only conjecture.

Kirby Muxloe Castle near Leicester (1917) 031.jpg

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1925.

The author died in 1952, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 60 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.