The Fortified Manor-House

The fortified manor-house was first and foremost a domestic dwelling. The fortification was usually carried out as a protective measure in the more unsettled parts of the country, such as the English / Welsh border. These buildings were not of any great military importance, strategically, or seen as much of a threat by the sovereign, in the same way that a fully-fledged castle would have been. As such, they had quite a reasonable survival rate.

The heart of the building was the manor-house itself. This usually had a quite normal appearance, with very few features which could be called defensive, being designed for comfortable living. Around the manor-house would have been a curtain-wall with mural towers, and outside that, a ditch, often in the form of a water-filled moat. Access to the enclosure was over a bridge, defended by a gatehouse.

This level of defence would not have withstood a determined assault by a large, well-equipped army in time of war, although it would have had some delaying effect. It was, however, more than adequate to deter smaller scale assaults, such as cross-border raids by cattle-thieves, and to give the occupants some peace of mind during the more unsettled periods of history, such as Stephen's reign, the Good Ol' Wars of the Roses and even the English Civil War.

Baconsthorpe Castle
[Baconsthorpe - Norfolk]