ROCHFORD TOWER

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Rochford Tower was one of a number of brick-built fortifications constructed in the fifteenth century in the vicinity of the prosperous medieval port of Boston. A four storey structure, it acted as a Solar Tower for an adjacent hall range. It remained occupied until the early nineteenth century and thereafter became derelict.

History

 

Rochford Tower was one of four similar structures (the others were Butterwick Tower, now demolished, plus Hussey Tower and the Tower-on-the-Moor) that formed the centre-piece of manorial sites and are indicative of the prosperity of the port of Boston in the medieval era. The tower took its name from the Rochford family who had lived in the area since at least 1274 and had risen in status to occupy positions of prominence including serving as Sheriffs of Lincolnshire and later as MPs. The design and style of the tower was doubtless heavily influenced by the great brick keep at Tattershall Castle or the smaller Tower-on-the-Moor; both built by Ralph Cromwell, Lord Treasurer to Henry VI in the first half of the fifteenth century and inspired by his travels in France during the Hundred Years War. Accordingly construction of Rochford Tower is generally dated to between 1445-60 although the precise ownership at the time it was started is unknown.

 

The four storey, square tower consisted of a barrel vaulted store on the ground floor and accommodation above. An octagonal stair turret on the south-east corner provided access to all levels. The structure was built of locally produced red brick, a fashionable construction material that implied significant wealth,  and was finished with stone window dressings. It is interesting to note that whilst the upper storeys were all provided with fireplaces and had evidence of wall paintings, both indicating high-status occupation, none of the floors had a garderobe (toilet)! It is likely the structure originally served as a Solar Tower for an adjacent two-storey Hall range.

 

The manor was granted to the Abbot of Westminster in 1504 by Henry VII. The church later leased it to the Kyme family who occupied the site from around  1640 until 1816. However, towards the end of their tenure much of the structure was ruinous and the Hall range was demolished no later than 1807. Shortly after a farm house was built adjacent to the tower. Rochford Tower itself seems to have gone out of use following the demolition of the rest of the manorial complex and today is empty but on private property with no public access.

 

Bibliography

 

Emery, A (2000). Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales: 1300-1500 Vol. 2. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

Corbett, G.S (1992). Rochford Tower. RCHME, York.

Historic England (2016). Rochford Tower. List Entry: 1062088. Swindon.

Pevsner, N (1964). The Buildings of England (Lincolnshire). London.

Thompson, P (1856). The History and Antiquities of Boston. Boston.

Thompson, M.W (1974). Tattershall Castle. The National Trust.

 

 

What's There?

Only the top of the structure can be seen as the remains are on private land with no public access.

Getting There

The tower is found off Rochford Tower Lane but is not sign-posted. A number of car parking options are possible in close vicinity.

Rochford Tower

PE21 9RQ

52.980756N 0.010593E