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Freen's Court magnate's residence, moat and fishponds, Sutton St Michael

A Scheduled Monument in Moreton on Lugg, Herefordshire,

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Latitude: 52.1094 / 52°6'33"N

Longitude: -2.7033 / 2°42'11"W

OS Eastings: 351931.825471

OS Northings: 245907.858114

OS Grid: SO519459

Mapcode National: GBR FL.9B2K

Mapcode Global: VH85H.377S

Entry Name: Freen's Court magnate's residence, moat and fishponds, Sutton St Michael

Scheduled Date: 3 February 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010392

English Heritage Legacy ID: 13693

County: Herefordshire,

Civil Parish: Moreton on Lugg

Traditional County: Herefordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Herefordshire

Church of England Parish: Sutton St Nicholas and Sutton St Michael

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument lies on the south side of Sutton St Michael, just to the west of
St Michael's church.
The magnate's residence has been identified from aerial photographs and by a
detailed geophysical survey of the area. The survey evidence shows the buried
walls of a substantial building orientated north east, south west, and
measuring approximately 25m x 8m. An internal wall at the north east end
divides an end chamber from the large hall. There are smaller adjacent rooms
on the south west end of the residence. On the north east side, there is a
large rectangular ante chamber orientated along the same axis as the main
building and measuring 11m x 4.5m. To the south east a double row of post
holes or post support pads of a second large building has been identified.
This structure is orientated north west, south east and measures 30m x 10m.
Both medieval and post medieval metalwork, including a coin of Edward I dated
to 1280, were recovered in the area of the first building in April 1991.
To the east and north of the residence lie the remains of Freen's Court, a
medieval moated site, which covers an area measuring approximately 90m x 80m.
The sub-rectangular moat, shown on a map of 1720, is infilled except for the
south arm and part of the east arm, and a ditch extending south west from the
east arm. The flat bottomed ditch on the south side of the moat is 12m wide
and 2.5m deep; the ditch extension from the east arm is 10m wide and 2m
deep. The moat island, which is raised 0.5m above the surrounding land level,
was the location of a 16th century manor house which is believed to have been
constructed on the site of a medieval building. To the west of the moated
site, within an area measuring approximately 120m x 135m, lies a marshy
depression which was the location of six rectangular fishponds. The moat and
ponds are naturally waterlogged and in the past were connected to the River
Lugg which runs just south of the site. Around the site, a ditch 0.5m deep
with a wide, shallow outer bank, forms a five sided enclosure which
encompasses the moat, the large buried buildings and the fishponds.
Maps and place-name evidence strongly suggest that this area was also the
location of a substantial Anglo-Saxon dwelling and it is recorded that St
Ethelbert was murdered by King Offa of Mercia whilst a guest at his royal
palace in Sutton. The plan of the stone buildings may indicate continuing use
from the early medieval period and it is considered possible that this is the
site of the hitherto unlocated Anglo-Saxon palace of Offa. The enclosure
ditch may also be associated with early medieval occupation.
The drainage ditch on the south of the site which follows the line of the
outer enclosure ditch is excluded from the scheduling.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A magnate's residence is a very high status residence of domestic rather than
military character. Such dwellings were the houses or palaces of the highest
ranks of society, acting both as luxury residences for the elite and their
large retinues, and as settings for meetings. These monuments were formed as
a complex of buildings, usually of stone, and in general comprised a great
hall or halls, chambers, chapels, kitchens, service rooms, lodgings and a
gatehouse, usually arranged around a single or double courtyard. Magnate's
residences were in use throughout the whole of the medieval period from the
Norman Conquest and due to their connection with highest ranks of society and
their comparative rarity, surviving examples are considered to be of national
Freen's Court acted as a magnate's residence from the early medieval period
until it was replaced by another prestigious residence, surrounded by a moat,
in the later medieval period. Moats also form a significant class of medieval
monument, important for understanding the distribution of wealth and status in
the countryside. Many examples provide conditions favourable to the
preservation of organic remains.
The magnate's residence and moated site at Freen's Court are both well
preserved examples and with the fishponds will retain considerable potential
for the survival of archaeological and environmental evidence. The magnate's
residence is possibly also the location of the palace of the Anglo-Saxon king,

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Sheppard, JA, 'Occasional Papers, Dept of Geog, Queen Mary Coll, Univ London' in The Orig and Evol of fld sett patt in the Herefds manor of Marden, , Vol. 15, ()
Metalwork finds reported 21/4/91, White, H, A suggested Mercian Palace at Sutton, Herefordshire, (1991)
Sent with letter of 27 June 1991, Payne, A. & Linford, N. - AML, Geophysical survey of site at Freens Court Ref: Sutton03/NTL, (1991)

Source: Historic England

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