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Remains of a moated monastic retreat house, manorial courthouse and inn

A Scheduled Monument in Badby, Northamptonshire

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Latitude: 52.2278 / 52°13'39"N

Longitude: -1.1774 / 1°10'38"W

OS Eastings: 456278.901577

OS Northings: 259157.294515

OS Grid: SP562591

Mapcode National: GBR 8SF.93X

Mapcode Global: VHCVK.J8WK

Entry Name: Remains of a moated monastic retreat house, manorial courthouse and inn

Scheduled Date: 6 December 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009844

English Heritage Legacy ID: 17152

County: Northamptonshire

Civil Parish: Badby

Built-Up Area: Badby

Traditional County: Northamptonshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northamptonshire


The monument includes the remains of a medieval moated site located on the
north eastern side of the village of Badby. The manor of Badby was acquired
before the 12th century by the Benedictine abbots of Evesham, Worcestershire,
and retained by them until the dissolution of the abbey. During this period
the manor was principally divided into small holdings and let out. In the
early 13th century Abbot Roger Norreys constructed a moated retreat house at
Badby which also served as an administrative centre for the manor. From 1538,
when the manor was granted to Sir Edmund Knightley, the house continued in use
for nearly a century as a domestic dwelling and manorial court, becoming known
as the Court House. In 1634 the estate was divided and the manorial court
moved away; the house was reused as an inn but fell into decline and by the
late 18th century was no longer standing. The monument includes the remains of
the moated enclosure together with those of the buildings and associated
features which stood both within and to the south east of it. The remains of
the medieval period are partly overlain by those of post-medieval date.

The remains of the moated site are located at the bottom of a north facing
slope near the south bank of the River Nene, in a field traditionally known as
Court Yard. Near the centre of the field is a small copse in which are
located the partially exposed remains of stone buildings which were fully
excavated in 1967-69. They include the foundations of a rectangular stone
hall aligned approximately east-west and measuring about 24.5m x 14m with a
central stone fireplace. Finds made during excavation indicate that it was
originally roofed with Cotswold stone. Adjacent to each of the north west and
south east sides of the hall are the remains of a small rectangular chamber of
slightly later date; that on the south east measured 7m x 6m and has been
interpreted as a chapel. To the north are further building remains which are
on a different alignment from the hall but contemporary with it; they are
considered to represent associated domestic outbuildings. These features have
been identified with the `noble, almost regal houses', known from documentary
sources, which were built in the early 13th century by Abbot Roger Norreys
(1189-1213). These buildings were used as a retreat house for the abbot as
well as an office for the administration of the manor, including the holding
of manorial courts.

Overlying the remains of the 13th century are those of the 14th century, when
considerable alterations and extensions were made to the complex. The hall
was reduced in size to 20m x 11m and opposing entrances were placed near the
middle of the north and south walls; the hearth was also moved to the east
wall where an oven was added, and the whole was re-roofed with ceramic tile.
Also at this time the chapel was enlarged to 10m x 7m, and a new wing,
interpreted as a stable block, was added to the north eastern corner of the
hall, thus joining it to the earlier outbuildings. Further additions included
a bakehouse range, the remains of which adjoin the north western corner of the
hall but are built on a similar alignment to the earlier outbuildings. It
includes the remains of a pair of ovens, a garderobe and two rooms which may
represent brewhouses. The construction of two new bakehouses at Badby was
recorded in the year 1345, during the abbacy of William de Boys (1345-1367),
and the renovation of the hall and chapel in 1379, in the time of Roger Zatton

Most of the 13th and 14th century building remains are in turn overlain by
those of the 15th-16th centuries when the complex was largely rebuilt. While
the chapel, the east wall of the hall and part of the wing to the north east
were retained in their former positions, the remaining structures were rebuilt
on a single alignment around a courtyard. The foundations of a stone
staircase indicate that the rooms of the south range, which overlay the former
hall, had an upper storey; the kitchen was rebuilt with two new ovens and a
well, and there was a new wing running from the south western corner of the
complex which included a double garderobe. In the south eastern corner of the
central room of the south range, a series of stone steps led to a cobbled road
running south eastwards from the complex; another track led from the south
western corner of the room. This phase of rebuilding is believed to have been
carried out after 1451, when the manor was leased out to Henry Spencer. The
buildings were found to have continued in use through the 16th and 17th
centuries. Earthen mounds adjacent to the excavated buildings represent spoil
heaps remaining from the excavations.

The copse, and the remains which lie within it, occupy the south eastern part
of a moated platform which was first raised in the early 13th century prior to
the erection of the buildings. Surrounding the copse is a series of low
earthworks and buried deposits which represent the remainder of the platform
and the moat which enclosed it. Outside the western edge of the copse, but
included within the area of the moated platform, are the buried remains of a
small building about 6.7m square. The stone foundations of this structure,
which was still standing in the late 18th century, were revealed by parchmarks
in 1991. Further buried building foundations on the moated platform have been
revealed by parchmarks adjacent to the north side of the copse; these
represent the remaining (unexcavated) parts of the medieval and post-medieval
complex which was excavated immediately to the south, including the northern
parts of the 13th and 14th century domestic buildings and 15th century
courtyard. Surrounding the platform on the north, east and south are the
remains of the moat ditch which was first constructed in the 13th century to
enclose an area of approximately 0.5ha, the western side of the enclosure
being defined by a north-running stream. The northern arm of the original moat
was later filled in in order to increase the area of the platform, and a new
moat dug roughly parallel to the north of it. In the 15th-16th centuries the
moat was cleaned and a revetting wall added to the outer bank of the southern
arm. Both the northern and eastern arms were still water-filled in the late
18th century. On the western edge of the moated enclosure, along the east bank
of the stream, is part of the course of a medieval and post-medieval trackway
which ran between Badby and Daventry.

Adjacent to the south east of the moated enclosure are further remains
associated with the medieval and post-medieval occupation of the site. The
cobbled road which runs southwards from the courtyard complex traverses the
moat and is discernible as a cropmark running south eastwards. This trackway
served as an access route to the moated enclosure in the late medieval and
post-medieval periods. Grouped around the trackway are a series of buried
building foundations, identified both as parchmarks and through aerial
photography; yet further to the south east, close to Berry Green Farm, are the
low earthworks of a long rectangular building. These features are considered
to include the remains of structures such as agricultural buildings which were
in use during the occupation of the moated site and in some cases survived it.

All modern fences and walls are excluded from the scheduling, although the
ground beneath these features is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Around 6,000 moated sites are known in England. They consist of wide ditches,
often or seasonally water-filled, partly or completely enclosing one or more
islands of dry ground on which stood domestic or religious buildings. In some
cases the islands were used for horticulture. The majority of moated sites
served as prestigious aristocratic and seigneurial residences with the
provision of a moat intended as a status symbol rather than a practical
military defence. The peak period during which moated sites were built was
between about 1250 and 1350 and by far the greatest concentration lies in
central and eastern parts of England. However, moated sites were built
throughout the medieval period, are widely scattered throughout England and
exhibit a high level of diversity in their forms and sizes. They form a
significant class of medieval monument and are important for the understanding
of the distribution of wealth and status in the countryside. Many examples
provide conditions favourable to the survival of organic remains.

The moated site at Badby has been identified as the remains of a monastic
retreat house, later converted to secular use. Retreat houses were principally
used for the regular periods of rest and recuperation which were required
under Archbishop Lanfranc's codification of the Benedictine Rule, a prominent
feature of which was blood-letting (seyneys) which was thought to be
beneficial to health. Apart from providing purpose-built accommodation for
seyneys, retreat houses were also used by senior monastic officials as places
where the monastic rules concerning diet, heating and conversation were
relaxed. As a result, they have features in common with both monastic
infirmaries, which were also used for seyneys, and secular manor houses of the
period, although retreat houses also required a chapel large enough to allow
the continued observance of the offices by those in residence. Confined to the
Benedictine order, only some 80 to 100 retreat houses are thought to have
existed, less than half of which are currently recorded as surviving
archaeological sites.

Badby is one of only two sites confirmed as retreat houses to have seen
significant archaeological excavation. That part of the building complex which
occupied the central part of the moated platform is reasonably well-understood
and the building foundations remain visible, allowing an appreciation of the
basic plan. The surrounding earthworks survive well and, along with the buried
remains in the ploughed areas of the monument, will contain important
additional information concerning this rare category of site, and of the
site's later secular use. Further information is provided by the survival of a
number of monastic documents which give information about its buildings and
their uses.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Gray, M, Badby
Gray, M, Badby
Brown, T, 'Annual Report' in Badby, Northamptonshire, , Vol. 6, (1991), 19-21
Wilson, M, Hurst, G, 'Medieval Archaeology' in Medieval Britain in 1967, , Vol. 12, (1968), 190-193
Wilson, M, Hurst, G, 'Medieval Archaeology' in Medieval Britain in 1969, , Vol. 14, (1970), 191-193
Wilson, M, Hurst, G, 'Medieval Archaeology' in Medieval Britain in 1968, , Vol. 13, (1969), 270-273
air photograph interpretation (plot), Markham, Philip, Badby, (1994)
Aston, Michael and Bond, James, Badby, Northamptonshire, 1967, survey of earthworks south of excav.
NLAP no.10869, OS/63133 Frames 90-92, (1963)
NLAP no.10872, OS/69066 Frames 103-4, (1969)
NLAP no.10901, OS/66194 Frame 14, (1966)
NLAP no.449, 106G/UK1698 frames 4237-8, (1946)
NLAP no.596, CPE/UK1994 frame 1275, (1947)
NLAP no.855, 541/15 frames 4435-7, (1948)
parchmarks seen in drought, (1991)
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, Archaeological Sites in North-West Northamptonshire, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of N, (1981)
Title: Enclosure Map
Source Date: 1779

Source: Historic England

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