The English Castle


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John Goodall

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From coast to coast, the English landscape is still richly studded with castles both great and small. As homes or ruins, these historic buildings are today largely objects of curiosity. For centuries, however, they were at the heart of the kingdom's social and political life. The English Castle is a riveting architectural study that sets this legion of buildings in historical context, tracing their development from the Norman Conquest in 1066 through the civil wars of the 1640s.

In this magnificent, compellingly written volume, which includes over 350 illustrations, John Goodall brings to life the history of the English castle over six centuries. In it he explores the varied architecture of these buildings and describes their changing role in warfare, politics, domestic living, and governance.

Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art

John Goodall is the architecture editor of the weekly magazine Country Life.

“Majestic in scale and sumptuously produced, it is an authority that scholars will consult for generations.”—Clive Aslet, The Sunday Telegraph

“This is an excellent book…Dr Goodall sets out to demolish an old-fashioned and outdated view of what castles are. In doing so, in his own words, he ‘joins up the dots’, assembling, in a sweeping narrative, what it would take years to glean from obscure journals and academic books”—Simon Thurley, Country Life

“[This] book is not only handsome, but reassuringly substantial . . . informed and thoughtful . . . lavishly illustrated . . . [and] fascinating.”—Stephen Brumwell, Wall Street Journal

“…the book is not only handsome, but reassuringly substantial - thick enough to thwart an incoming crossbow bolt, heavy enough to drop on the heads of determined attackers. An informed and thoughtful treatment of its subject, The English Castle fuses rigorous architectural analysis with a thorough examination of the documentary record. It’s lavishly illustrated pages use photographs, plans and “cut-away” reconstructions to help the keen-eyed to interpret, or “read”, the surviving structures.”—Stephen Brumwell, Wall Street Journal [Europe]

“This is the most handsome and extensive tribute to English castle building yet compiled, ingeniously designed to appeal to a wide readership.”—Marcus Binney, The Times

“John Goodall’s The English Castle is a book of great scholarship and scale….I can see it being the authority on English Castles for many years to come….It is more than an academic treatise; it is a study written by a man with a passion for his subject.”—Francis Terry, RIBA Journal

“I found this book absolutely gripping - it’s well researched, vividly conveyed and original in viewpoint. And there are 362 dazzling colour illustrations. This is without doubt the architectural book of the year.”—John Martin Robinson, Literary Review

“The book has been a labour of love for Goodall, who has traipsed through every motte and bailey and whose scholarship shows through on every page. Its illustrations are superb…..But the imagery of Goodall’s story is often as powerful in words as it is in pictures.”—Timothy Brittain-Caitlin, World of Interiors

“A tome for the inquisitive layman and serious historian alike, The English Castle merits a place on the bookshelf for all who enjoy and appreciate the best of architecture from our past.”—John Stachiewicz, National Trust Magazine

“This excellent and absorbing work uses text, photographs and artwork to powerfully explain the true splendour and historical importance of the buildings it documents.”—Kent on Saturday

“This excellent and absorbing work…..will add hugely to the enjoyment and appreciation of any castle visit.”—Kent on Sunday

“The English Castle is a book of great scholarship and scale…..The English Castle is the antithesis of the many art history books that seem to be shrouded in obscurity and confusion. It is more than an academic treatise; it is a study written by a man with a passion for his subject.”—Francis Terry, RIBA Journal

“Goodall, the architectural editor of Country Life, offers a fascinating insight into the history of castle and its architecture from the Norman Conquest on ... Lavishly illustrated with photograph and artwork, this book conveys the splendour of these monuments and places them within the context of their time ... Authoritative and written in ahighly readable style.”—Gavin Engelbrecht, Northern Echo

“Beautifully illustrated and engagingly written, this scholarly yet accessible new history explores the strong links between church and castle architecture, as well as tracing how castles were built and why they were used, together with the political and social context of the day. Endlessly fascinating.”—Timothy Brittain-Catlin, The Tablet

“Goodall’s deeply impressive feat of scholarship here is enhanced by his skill as a writer and his willing embrace of complex questions. This book is surely the essential work of reference on the English medieval castle and medieval domestic architecture.”—Jeremy Mason, British Art Journal

“John Goodall’s impressive new book offers the fullest and most authoritative account to date of castle history…..This is a superb book, beautifully produced and illustrated.”—Nigel Saul, History Today

“Impressive . . . a grand narrative . . . [with] a splendid selection of color photographs . . . Definitive.”—David R. Conn, Library Journal

“…..a magnificent achievement, likely to become the standard and certainly the most lavishly illustrated account for many years to come. It deserves the widest of readerships.”—Nicholas Vincent, Times Literary Supplement

“[This] book is not only handsome, but reassuringly substantial . . . informed and thoughtful . . . lavishly illustrated . . . [and] fascinating.”—Stephen Brumwell, Wall Street Journal

". . . this new volume by Goodall will be an indispensable reference and should be added to every library collection. It is a gorgeously produced book . . . written throughout in an accessible style. . . . Essential."—L. Nees, Choice

“…..the book is not only founded on very sound scholarship but it is also written with exemplary clarity. It is moreover beautifully illustrated….an invaluable addition to one’s bookshelves.”—Roger White, Historic House

“Goodall’s extremely readable book….is a landmark publication in castle studies, and one that will not be bettered for many years to come. This reviewer has long been an admirer of Yale University Press’s architectural books, and the format of this one does not disappoint…..a joy to handle and peruse…. [a] major contribution to the history of medieval and early modern architecture.”—John R. Kenyon, Burlington Magazine

“This is the best kind of art and architecture book.”—Wall Street Journal (selection as a best nonfiction book of 2011)

“….the definitive chronicle of royal, aristocratic – and episcopal – castle building……A foundation stone for any architectural library.”—Marcus Binney, The Times (Books of the Year)

“Scholarly and sumptuous in equal measure, John Goodall's survey of the long history of the English castle is probably the finest ever produced, and unlikely to be surpassed.”—Paul Stamper, British Archaeology

“What is certain is that it will be the major text to be consulted in castle studies for years to come…The presentation is no less than magnificent…Combine this with dedicated research…and you have a book that every serious student of castle studies must have on his shelves.”—Gil Dowdall-Brown, Casemate

"[A] dynamic exercise in analysing buildings in their social context… [The English Castle, 1066-1650] is an exceptional work of scholarship that brings together not only a wealth of analysis of the buildings themselves, but does so via a deep sensitivity to the historical background of their construction and use… Goodall is to be congratulated on a remarkable achievement."—Robert Liddiard, Society for Architectual Historians of Great Britain Newsletter

"John Goodall is the finest scholar of English medieval architecture of his generation, and the English Castle is an exceptional achievement."—Richard K. Morris, Ancient Monument Society

“One could not ask for a better guide . . . Goodall is a fine, efficient storyteller. He deftly creates scene after scene in English political and castle history.”—Daniel Taylor, Books and Culture

"One of the chief merits of the book is that it has a clear thesis, which is pursued systematically and set on a large canvas. It sets out to provide ‘a new overview’ of its subject, and in that it." — P.S Barnwell, Northern History Journal

Winner of the Large Format Illustrated Book of the Year Award for the 2011 Spear's Book Awards, in association with City Private Bank

Winner of the Alice Davis Hitchcock Medallion 2011 given by the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain (UK Award)

Shortlisted for the William M. B. Berger Prize for British Art History, as given by the Berger Collection Educational Trust and The British Art Journal

 Shortlisted for The Art Book Prize, as given by the Authors' Club.

 Winner of the 2013 Historians of British Art Book Prize in the Pre-1800 category, given by the Historians of British Art.
ISBN: 9780300110586
Publication Date: April 12, 2011
Publishing Partner: Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art
480 pages, 10 x 12
100 b/w + 250 color illus.
The Castle

A History

John Goodall

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