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Garden, moat and five fishponds at Kirby Bellars

A Scheduled Monument in Kirby Bellars, Leicestershire

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Latitude: 52.7512 / 52°45'4"N

Longitude: -0.9345 / 0°56'4"W

OS Eastings: 472010.878711

OS Northings: 317600.204169

OS Grid: SK720176

Mapcode National: GBR BP0.JK3

Mapcode Global: WHFK5.M36N

Entry Name: Garden, moat and five fishponds at Kirby Bellars

Scheduled Date: 14 March 1952

Last Amended: 4 September 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010304

English Heritage Legacy ID: 17032

County: Leicestershire

Civil Parish: Kirby Bellars

Traditional County: Leicestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Leicestershire

Church of England Parish: Upper Wreake Parish

Church of England Diocese: Leicester


The monument at Kirby Bellars is divided into three separate areas and lies to
the north of the Leicester-Melton Mowbray road, 3km west of Melton. It
consists of a medieval moat and fishponds which were later incorporated into a
17th century formal garden.
The medieval moated site is rectangular and measures 70 x 50m overall. The
moat ditch measures 15m wide and 2m deep and contains a stone entrance
causeway on the southern side. The formal garden earthworks, dating to the
17th century, include a series of banks, rectangular fishponds and two
prospect mounds at either end of the gardens area. The earthworks to the
south of the moat comprise a terraced walkway 170m long which ranges in height
from 2m in the north to 1m in the south. The two prospect mounds are located
at the north west corner of the moat and 200m to the south east of the moat,
respectively. They are both conical in shape and flat-topped. The northern
mound is 4m high, 22m in diameter at the base and 6m wide at the summit; the
second mound is 3-4m high, 18m diameter at the base and about 5m wide at its
summit. A fishpond measuring 65m long lies to the north-east of the moat,
with a flat-topped mound 1m high and 18m across to the west of it and
irregular earthworks in between. The second area lies to the west of this and
comprises a series of three fishponds in a line, the longest of which is 65m
long. The third area lies 150m to the north and contains a water-filled pond
adjacent to the railway, marking the northern extent of the site.
The moated site is known from documents to be of medieval origin. A 14th
century reference describes the hall and many associated buildings as being
both inside and outside the moat, traces of buildings and medieval roof tiles
have been recorded from the moated area. The medieval house was replaced by
the present one on a different site in the 17th century, at which time the
formal garden earthworks were laid out by Sir Erasmus de la Fontaine, who held
the site from 1604-1672.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

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.

From the 16th century to the beginning of the 18th century the setting out of
formal gardens attached to high status residences became fashionable amongst
the wealthier classes. Common architectural features of these landscape
gardens included prospect mounds or look-out points, terraced walkways, formal
vistas and tree-lined avenues and ornamental ponds. Only some 100 gardens
with substantial earthworks are recorded in England.
Kirby Bellars is a rare and well preserved example of a medieval moat later
incorporated into a formal garden. The alterations to the site as a whole are
well documented historically and reflect changing fashion in land use and
social aspirations of the wealthier classes in the late medieval and
post-medieval periods.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hartley, R F, The Medieval Earthworks of North-West Leicestershire, (1987)

Source: Historic England

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