1086 - 1485
The de Greys: Soldiers and Churchmen
The earliest surviving fabric above ground is part of a wall connected to the Great Tower, which has been dated to the late 11th or early 12th century. It was constructed by the de Grey family, who had been living at Greys Court since the Domesday Book.
The de Grey family included some important figures. Anschetil de Grai is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as holding the estate of Redrefeld (now Rotherfield Greys). Walter de Grey is named in Magna Carta (1215) and was the archbishop of York for 40 years and Regent of England twice. Sir John de Grey, the first Baron Grey of Rotherfield, was a soldier who became a founding knight of the Garter after the battle of Crecy in 1346. On 10 December 1346 he was granted a ‘licence to crenellate’ Greys, and the major surviving medieval work dates from this period.
The last male de Grey died in 1387. His granddaughter Alice supported the Lancastrians during the Wars of the Roses. Her grandson, Francis Lovell, became a Viscount and a great friend of Richard III but lost everything after the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, including Greys Court, which was given to Jasper Tudor.