Kirby Muxloe Castle
Photograph: E. Smith (1960)
Source: RIBA British Architectural Library Photographs Collection
Kirby Muxloe Castle seems like a ruin. Only a gatehouse and the south east tower, shown in this photograph, survive, surrounded by a wide moat. However, this is in fact an unfinished building, and the few fragments left can tell us something of the fashions of the time, and of the character and career of its builder, Lord Hastings.
For many centuries a manor house had stood on this site. However, Hastings judged this old-fashioned, and in 1480 he began rebuilding. Like Oxbrugh, this was to be a moated house, brick-built, with a magnificent gatehouse and many towers. This was no cheap building. The three-storey tower, seen here, gives a hint of Hastings’ ambition and wealth. Constructed of the finest brickwork, there are obvious similarities with the gatehouse of Jesus College, Cambridge. Would a defensive building have such rich brick patterning and vulnerable chimneys?
Interestingly, Kirby Muxloe Castle has the earliest known gun-slips in the country. At the base of the tower, two round openings are clearly visible, ready to be used. Perhaps Hastings was aware of threats to his position? Three years into the re-building he was executed: his castle-manor was never graced by him, and provided him no refuge.