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Ince Manor monastic grange and fishpond

A Scheduled Monument in Ince, Cheshire West and Chester

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Latitude: 53.2829 / 53°16'58"N

Longitude: -2.8275 / 2°49'39"W

OS Eastings: 344924.319951

OS Northings: 376529.342681

OS Grid: SJ449765

Mapcode National: GBR 8ZPG.NW

Mapcode Global: WH87W.JRS4

Entry Name: Ince Manor monastic grange and fishpond

Scheduled Date: 29 December 1952

Last Amended: 15 September 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009635

English Heritage Legacy ID: 13516

County: Cheshire West and Chester

Civil Parish: Ince

Traditional County: Cheshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cheshire

Church of England Parish: Thornton-le-Moors with Ince and Elton

Church of England Diocese: Chester


The monument is Ince Manor monastic grange and fishpond. The site is bounded
by Kinsey's Lane to the south west, The Square to the south east, Marsh Lane
to the north east, and a boundary bank to the north west. Within this area
lies a courtyard of about 0.2 ha in extent that is flanked on two sides by the
ruins of sandstone buildings of 13th/14th century or earlier origin, still
standing to roof height. The building to the north east is the Hall, a single
open structure measuring 15.8m by 6.4m, while that to the north west is
Monastery Cottages, originally a range of lodgings with four separate
chambers. Part of a stone-based wall survives along the south west boundary of
the courtyard and a well, now blocked, exists in the courtyard's south west
corner. Lying between the courtyard and Kinsey's Lane are Park Cottages,
formerly a stable or barn associated with a farm adjoining and supporting the
manor. The manor was enclosed by a boundary wall with stone copings and
plinths that survives along Kinsey's Lane, Marsh Lane, and facing The Square.
Surrounding the manor and its boundary wall is a rock-cut moat 6.4m wide and
2.7m deep that is partly infilled, and partly overlain by modern roads, but
still survives to the east of the Hall and in the gardens of Park Cottages and
Beytna. The moat's course is defined by a bank up to 1m high north west of
Monastery Cottages. Midway across the field behind Monastery Cottages is a
second, smaller boundary bank up to 0.5m high. North of Monastery Cottages,
and some 25m beyond the line of the infilled moat, is a dry fishpond c.23m by
22m and 0.5m deep with a stone retaining wall on two sides.
The Manor at Ince was one of the earliest recorded properties of St Werburgh's
Abbey, Chester. The community of secular canons at Chester was disbanded at
the Conquest in 1066, but was reinstated as a Benedictine Abbey in 1093. At
that date the pre-Conquest manorial properties, including Ince, were
guaranteed as part of the monastic estate. The Domesday Book in 1086 records
the manor as possessing three hides, with arable land for five ploughs (about
121 ha), and about 1.8 ha of meadow. Edward I was entertained at the Manor in
1277. In 1399 the abbot and convent obtained a licence to crenellate the manor
house which was confirmed in 1410. In 1439/40 most of the demesne lands at
Ince were farmed or leased out to John Wilkinson and others. By 1538 Ince
Manor had been let out to Richard Cowley. After the Dissolution both the
manor and rectory of Ince were included in properties of St Werburgh's and
they remained in church ownership until the death of Henry VIII in 1547, after
which they passed to Sir Richard Cotton. Since then the manor has passed
through the hands of various notable families.
The Hall and Monastery Cottages are listed Grade I, the enclosing wall around
the complex is listed Grade II.
All buildings (other than the Hall and Monastery Cottages), property
boundaries, driveways, paths and service pipes are excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included. The stone-
based wall along the south west of the courtyard, the well, the courtyard and
the stone enclosing wall are all included within the scheduling.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A monastic grange was a farm owned and run by a monastic community and
independent of the secular manorial system of communal agriculture and servile
labour. The function of granges was to provide food and raw materials for
consumption within the parent monastic house itself, and also to provide
surpluses for sale for profit. The first monastic granges appeared in the 12th
century but they continued to be constructed and used until the Dissolution.
This system of agriculture was pioneered by the Cistercian order but was soon
imitated by other orders. Some granges were worked by resident lay-brothers
(secular workers) of the order but others were staffed by non-resident
labourers. The majority of granges practised a mixed economy but some were
specialist in their function. Five types of grange are known: agrarian farms,
bercaries (sheep farms), vaccaries (cattle ranches), horse studs and
industrial complexes. A monastery might have more than one grange and the
wealthiest houses had many. Frequently a grange was established on lands
immediately adjacent to the monastery, this being known as the home grange.
Other granges, however, could be found wherever the monastic site held lands.
On occasion these could be located at some considerable distance from the
parent monastery. Granges are broadly comparable with contemporary secular
farms although the wealth of the parent house was frequently reflected in the
size of the grange and the layout and architectural embellishment of the
buildings. Additionally, because of their monastic connection, granges tend to
be much better documented than their secular counterparts. No region was
without monastic granges. The exact number of sites which originally existed
is not precisely known but can be estimated, on the basis of numbers of
monastic sites, at several thousand. Of these, however, only a small
percentage can be accurately located on the ground today. Of this group of
identifiable sites, continued intensive use of many has destroyed much of the
evidence of archaeological remains. In view of the importance of granges to
medieval rural and monastic life, all sites exhibiting good archaeological
survival are identified as nationally important.

Ince Manor monastic grange is one of only two examples in Cheshire of
standing manorial buildings belonging to an abbey, and is one of only five
similarly surviving monuments in the north of England. The medieval buildings
remain in a good state of preservation and there are only three other
similar sites in the country displaying more complex structures. Monastery
Cottages is one of the best preserved examples of manorial lodgings in
England, while the Hall possesses the rare and unusual feature of an entrance
defended against attack. The monument is known to have belonged to St
Werburgh's Abbey during the early medieval period and evidence of pre-Conquest
features will survive within, below and near the Hall and Monastery Cottages.
Similarly, further evidence of other post-Conquest structures associated with
the grange will also survive.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Thompson, P, Ince Manor Medieval Monastic Buildings on the Mersey Marshes, (1982)
DOE, Buildings of Special Hist & Arch Interest,
DOE, Buildings of Special Hist & Arch Interest,
Fairclough, Mr. (site owner), To Robinson, K.D. MPPFW, (1991)
Title: Ordnance Survey 1st Edition 6" Map
Source Date: 1872

Title: Ordnance Survey
Source Date: 1910

Source: Historic England

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