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The castles I didn’t cover in the Lively Old Leicestershire entry have few, if any, remains. Often, they can still leave behind interesting features or they may stand out because of their history (such as at Fotheringhay.) These castles are Groby, Hallaton, Sauvy, Hinckley, Sapcote, Gilmorton, Kibworth Harcourt and Shackerstone Castles. I’m starting with Donington-le -Heath Manor, however, because it’s perhaps often confused with Donington Castle which I covered and the location of its remains is much further north in the county.
This manor house is only a 1/2 mile SSW of Coalville and was originally a 13th century fortified manorial complex founded by William le May. In 1293, Robert de Herle increased its size when he added the stone upper-hall alongside the moated platform which defended a strong rampart.
In 1618 John Digby modernized the house, inserting large rectangular windows and converted the basement rooms into parlour and kitchen. Of the original surrounding enclosure- which included a moat- only weak earthworks remain. This manor is five miles southeast of Ashby-de-la-Zouch.
If you take a look at my Leicestershire photo album below, you’ll see a photo of Groby Old Hall. The castle with which it is associated was one of nine castles, during the Rebellion of 1173-74, which had their walls pulled down and the motte quarried away by King Henry II. It is located five miles northwest of Leicester on the A50. Groby Castle was an 11th century earthwork motte and bailey fortress founded by Hugh de Grentmesnil. The remains of the bailey, which are encased by a wide ditch with a counterscarp bank, are to the east of what is now Groby Old Hall. In 1172 the timber castle was dismantled- as previously mentioned- and the Hall was erected in the 13th century. It is conveniently located three miles north of Kirby Muxloe.
Twenty kilometers southeast of Leicester , Hallaton Castle of which there are no remains, save the earthworks, is important because it was a bit of a curiosity when it was excavated. It was determined that the findings go back at least 1,000 years before the Norman invasion. During the 19th century excavation tree trunks bearing axe marks along with boulders, Norman pottery, a quern stone and evidence of iron working were found and are now on display in Leicester’s Museum. Hallaton is mentioned in the Domesday book as Alctone. After I sorted out the details (on The Gatehouse web site) it seems that the castle itself occupied a little less space of its outside circumference than the inner bailey. A rectangular enclosure, which remains, is 118 feet high, 630 feet in circumference and stood with the outworks on two acres of ground. I have included photos of the Butter Cross and 13 century Church of St. Michael in the photo album.
Sauvy Castle, too, is only earthworks now but it was built by King John the early part of the 13th century. This motte castle was placed in the path of a stream to provide water for a wet moat. Located near Withcote it remained in royal hands but was given to Count Aumule for a few years.
Another earthwork motte and bailey by Hugh Grentmesnil is Hinckley Castle, located in the town centre of Hinckley- thirteen miles southwest of Leicester and four miles east of Sapcote Castle. It was built in the 11th century and part of the bailey has survived. The motte was destroyed in 1976. The large circular bailey platform is still supported by a tall rampart with a wide wet ditch.
Shackerstone also is no longer visible as so much as rubble- not far from Groby and Donington-le-Heath. This medieval earthwork motte and bailey was once used as a WWII air raid shelter. Only traces of a bailey platform are visible but interestingly, a manor was built here which was referred to as Shackerstone Hall and the remains of the castle were used- most likely as a wall- as part of its formal gardens. The Hall now is also gone.
The reason why I so often leave out these castles in my accounts is for the fact that when you visit these sites there will be no castle to view. This historical account of these edifices is worthwhile in that we can trace their history but in my forthcoming books there will be no reference to them, except in passing, for their relevance (possibly) to another existing castle. It is not my desire to send someone on a trek to find a ghost. My awe remains- and always will- with the preservation of these magnificent fortresses and homes. With that, I will leave you a link to take a look at what remains of these former castles: