Eynsford Castle

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Eynsford Castle


Eynsford Castle.jpg
Eynsford Castle
Location: 51°22’14"N, 0°12’48"E
Village: Eynsford
Condition: Ruined
Owned by: English Heritage
Website: Eynsford Castle

Eynsford Castle is a stone Norman castle in Kent, close by Eynsford village. It was abandoned in the Middle Ages and has seen natural decay but there has been virtually no plunder of the ruins for building materials.

The castle was historically the head of the manor owning most of the land of the village.[1] It was built in 1088 and occupied by local nobility but after it was ransacked in the 14th century, it fell into decay. For years it was used as dog kennels by the Hart-Dyke family of nearby Lullingstone Castle and manor, who were maternal descendants of courtier Francis Hart.

Today the castle is a scheduled ancient monument[2] in the care of English Heritage and opened to the public.


Surviving fragments include sections of the curtain wall, some up to 30 feet in height, including evidence of the latrines, and buildings within the walls.

The design of Eynsford Castle is reminiscent of early German castles with a bergfried or fighting-tower forming the central element of the defences.[3]

In 1797 it was observed:

There are large ruins still remaining of Eynsford castle. The walls, which are built of squared flint, are near four feet thick, being entire for near forty feet in height. The circuit of these walls are of a very irregular form, and contain about three quarters of an acre of ground, in the middle of them is a strong keep or dungeon. It stands at a small distance eastward from the river Darent, between which and the castle, as well as for the same space about it, there is much rubbish and foundations of buildings, and there are remains of a broad moat round it, now quite dry.[4]

Social history

Francis Hart of Lullingstone Manor

In the reign of King Henry II, a family of the name of Eynsford (also spelt Aynsford or Ainsford) possessed the village, one of whom William de Eynesford, was sheriff of London in that reign. They bore for their arms, a fretted ermine coat, as carved on the roof of the cloisters, at Canterbury Cathedral. A William de Eynesford held the Manor and Castle of Eynsford of the Archbishop of Canterbury (paying dues to him yearly or quarterly in the feudal system). Thomas Becket having given the church of Eynsford to one 'Laurence', William de Eynesford dispossessed him of it, for which he was excommunicated by the archbishop, a punishment that offended the king exceedingly; another such William possessed this manor and castle in the 12th and 13th years of King John. In the reign of Edward I this estate was become the property of the family of Criol, in the 21st year of which, as appears by the Tower records (such as the Feet of Fines), John de Criol and Ralph de Sandwich claimed the privileges of a manor here; Nicholas de Criol, a descendant died possessed of it in the third year of Richard II's reign after which it passed by sale to the Zouches, of Harringworth. William Zouche died possessed of it in the 5th year of that reign, and left three sons, Sir William le Zouche of Braunfield, Edmund. and Thomas; Thomas owned it in the sixth year of Henry IV.

Later the estate it passed into the name of Chaworth; and Elizabeth, wife of William Chaworth, owned it until the seventeenth year of Henry VII. Soon after this, it was conveyed by sale to Sir Percival Hart, of the body of Henry VIII. His son, Sir George Hart, died in the twenty-second year of Elizabeth I's reign possessed of this castle and manor, with the mill, called Garsmill, holding them of the king by knights service; since which they have descended in the same manner that Lullingstone has, to Sir John Dixon Dyke.[4]


Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Eynsford Castle)


  1. Eynsford Castle – English Heritage
  2. National Heritage List 1007462: Eynsford Castle
  3. Friar, Stephen (2003). The Sutton Companion to Castles, Sutton Publishing, Stroud, 2003, p 36. ISBN 978-0-7509-3994-2
  4. 4.0 4.1 Parishes: Eynsford - The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 2, 1797