Shirburn Castle

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Shirburn Castle Gatehouse.

Shirburn Castle is at the village of Shirburn, 6 miles (9.7 km) south of Thame, Oxfordshire. Shirburn Castle was the seat of the Earls of Macclesfield.

George Parker, 2nd Earl of Macclesfield (c.1695–1764), celebrated as an astronomer, spent much time conducting astronomical observations at Shirburn Castle, which his father had bought in 1716. Here he built an observatory and a chemical laboratory. The observatory was "equipped with the finest existing instruments" and the 2nd Earl of Macclesfield used it from 1740.[1] In 1761 the astronomer Thomas Hornsby observed the transit of Venus from the castle grounds.

The Macclesfield Psalter was discovered in Shirburn Castle in 2004 when the contents of the Library were catalogued for auction. It is now in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.

The present owner of the castle is the Beechwood Estates Company, the Macclesfield family estate management company. Following a long-running and acrimonious court battle, Richard Timothy George Mansfield Parker, the 9th Earl of Macclesfield, was evicted from the family seat at the end of 2004.[2]

The castle was used for external shots of the Balcombe family home in the "Happy families" episode of the Inspector Morse TV series,[3] the Midsomer Priory for the Midsomer Murders TV series as well as an exterior shot of Mycroft Holmes's country estate for the 2011 film Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.


  • Pevsner, Nikolaus; Sherwood, Jennifer (1974). The Buildings of England: Oxfordshire. Harmondsworth: Penguin. pp. 761–763. ISBN 0-14-071045-0.
  • Mackenzie, Sir James Dixon (1896). The Castles of England: their story and structure Vol. I. Harvard University: The Macmillan co.


  1. ^ Hill, Elisabeth (1961). Whyte, Lancelot Law (ed.). "Roger Boscovich: A biographical essay". Roger Joseph Boscovich, S.J., F.R.S., 1711-1787: Studies of his life and work on the 250th anniversary of his birth: 41. Retrieved 2012-01-30.
  2. ^ Neutral Citation Number: [2003] EWHC 1846 (Ch), accessed 18 December 2012.
  3. ^ Inspector Morse: Happy families episode - IMDB, accessed 19 July 2016.

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Coordinates: 51°39′27″N 0°59′38″W / 51.65757°N 0.99380°W / 51.65757; -0.99380