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Wedgnock Park pale, dam, two watermill sites, bridge and hollow way 200m north east of Goodrest Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Leek Wootton and Guy's Cliffe, Warwickshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.3189 / 52°19'8"N

Longitude: -1.5961 / 1°35'45"W

OS Eastings: 427629.164012

OS Northings: 269057.942855

OS Grid: SP276690

Mapcode National: GBR 5LQ.R8T

Mapcode Global: VHBX9.9Z25

Entry Name: Wedgnock Park pale, dam, two watermill sites, bridge and hollow way 200m north east of Goodrest Farm

Scheduled Date: 15 September 1978

Last Amended: 3 August 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013159

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21582

County: Warwickshire

Civil Parish: Leek Wootton and Guy's Cliffe

Built-Up Area: Leek Wootton

Traditional County: Warwickshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Warwickshire

Church of England Parish: Leek Wootton All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Coventry

Details

The monument is situated approximately 200m north east of Goodrest Farm, in
the valley of the Cuttle Brook. It includes the earthwork, standing and buried
remains of a dam, two associated watermill sites, a hollow way and a bridge
across the Cuttle Brook. A sample length of the park pale confining Wedgnock
Park is also included.
In the central part of the monument, running north west to east are the slight
earthwork remains of a hollow way which now forms part of a public footpath.
It crosses the Cuttle Brook via an ancient single arch bridge which has been
constructed of coursed stone rubble. The bridge is approximately 4m wide and
is included in the scheduling.
To the north east and south east of the bridge are the earthwork remains of a
park pale which forms part of the eastern boundary to Wedgnock Park. This deer
park was originally established at least as early as the 13th century and
formed part of the estate of Warwick Castle. Its area was increased over
several centuries and by 1845 occupied an area of approximately 1000ha.
Documentary references indicate that this eastern part of Wedgnock Park had
been enclosed by 1479. A 100m long section of the park pale is visible running
north west-south east to the north of the bridge. Approximately 50m to the
south east of the bridge, the pale turns southwards and runs parallel with the
course of the Cuttle Brook. It continues in this direction for at least 180m;
a sample length of the best preserved section of the pale, approximately 90m
long, is included in the scheduling. The park pale is visible as a ditch and
parallel earthen bank. The ditch has been partly infilled but remains visible
as a shallow depression, up to 2m deep in parts. In the north eastern part of
the monument the ditch has been partly culverted and is in use as a field
drain. The earthen bank is located outside the ditch and, as is typical of
park pales, would have originally been surmounted by a wooden fence or a
hedge.
The park pale cuts across the hollow way to the south east of the bridge and
so the hollow way itself and the bridge are considered to be earlier than the
park pale. Following the construction of the pale it appears that the hollow
way was diverted to run to the west of the pale bank, where it is visible as a
broadening and deepening of the pale ditch itself.
In the central part of the monument are the earthwork remains of a large dam
constructed across the valley of the Cuttle Brook. The dam measures up to 2.3m
high and 18m wide and has been breached by the brook. It is built of earth and
roughly squared blocks of stone which are visible within the breach. The pond
formed behind this dam would have originally measured at least 110m by
approximately 140m. It has long been dry and a 10m wide sample area of the
deposits formed on the floor of the pond south west of the dam is included in
the scheduling. Documentary sources indicate that the pond was periodically
scoured and that the dam was repaired in 1702.
Levelled platforms, which are roughly square in plan, are visible at both the
north western and south eastern ends of the dam. These are considered to be
the sites of former watermills. There is no surface evidence of the mill
buildings themselves, but remains will survive in the form of buried features.
The pond formed behind the dam would have originally provided the water supply
to power the waterwheels; the flow of water being controlled by sluices which
will also survive as buried features. The tail-races for the two watermills
are visible as shallow depressions at either end of the dam. They run from the
mill platforms, down the sides of the valley and lead into the Cuttle Brook
just above the bridge.
Approximately 250m to the south west of the monument are the earthwork remains
of a moated site known as Goodrest Lodge. The construction of the dam and its
associated mills are thought to be contemporary with the occupation of this
moated site which is the subject of a separate scheduling.
All fence posts at the site are excluded from the scheduling, but the ground
beneath is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The first watermills in Britain were used for grinding corn and this purpose
remained by far the most widespread use of waterpower. By 1086 there were over
5600 corn mills in England, most of them south and east of the Rivers Trent
and Severn. The siting of ponds upstream of the mills ensured there was an
adequate supply of water to the waterwheel all year round.
The two watermill sites and the associated dam north east of Goodrest Farm
survive in a good condition. Structural evidence for the construction and use
of the dam and the mill sites will survive within the dam itself and as buried
features beneath the mill platforms. The silts in the floor of the pond and
within the tail-races will retain important artefactual and environmental
evidence relating to the history of the group of features which make up this
monument and represent a valuable source of information for the environment of
this area through time. These earthworks derive further importance from their
close association with Goodrest Lodge moated site approximately 280m to the
south west. The proximity of the watermills to the moated site illustrates the
influence and control exercised by the medieval aristocracy on the rural
industrial economy.
The bridge across the Cuttle Brook, on the central part of the monument, is a
particularly early example, datable through its relationship with the hollow
way and also the park pale. The hollow way itself provides evidence for the
earlier history of the landscape in this vicinity.
A deer park is an area of land which is set aside for the management and
hunting of deer and other animals to provide a constant and sustainable supply
of food throughout the year. Parks were usually surrounded by a park pale: a
massive fenced or hedged boundary often accompanied by ditches. The peak
period of construction, between AD 1200 and 1350, coincided with a time of
considerable prosperity amongst the aristocracy. However, the popularity of
the deer park waned in the 15th century, and by the end of the 17th century
most were abandoned. The original number of deer parks constructed in England
is unknown, but probably exceeded 3000. Where examples are well documented,
and retain significant remains, the principal features are normally identified
as nationally important.
The earthworks of the eastern section of Wedgnock Park pale survive well and
illustrate the influence of aristocratic leisure pursuits on the character and
management of the medieval and post-medieval landscape. The sections of the
bank retain evidence for the process of construction, whilst the buried land
surface beneath the bank will retain information for the land-use of the site
prior to the construction of the pale. The importance of Wedgnock Park is
enhanced by the survival of documentary records dating from the park's
inclosure through to the 19th century.
Taken as a whole, the monument 200m north east of Goodrest Farm is a rare
example of a number of well preserved archaeological features which are
located in close proximity to each other and are clearly inter-related. They
not only provide important evidence for the history and occupation of the area
but also illustrate how this small area of landscape was adapted for a
sequence of different purposes during the medieval and post-medieval periods.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Warwickshire: Wedgnock Park, (1968), 470
The Victoria History of the County of Warwickshire: Wedgnock Park, (1968), 469
The Victoria History of the County of Warwickshire: Wedgnock Park, (1968), 467

Source: Historic England

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