Ancient Monuments

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Tilsworth Manor moated site

A Scheduled Monument in Tilsworth, Central Bedfordshire

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Latitude: 51.9076 / 51°54'27"N

Longitude: -0.5823 / 0°34'56"W

OS Eastings: 497624.169748

OS Northings: 224173.067186

OS Grid: SP976241

Mapcode National: GBR F3D.9MM

Mapcode Global: VHFRB.VBJ0

Entry Name: Tilsworth Manor moated site

Scheduled Date: 17 October 1990

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013452

English Heritage Legacy ID: 11554

County: Central Bedfordshire

Civil Parish: Tilsworth

Built-Up Area: Tilsworth

Traditional County: Bedfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Bedfordshire

Church of England Parish: Tilsworth

Church of England Diocese: St.Albans


The monument includes the remains of a Medieval moated enclosure
surrounding the upstanding remains of Tilsworth Manor. The enclosure is
rectangular in shape measuring some 70m by 90m inclusive of the 10m wide
surrounding water-filled moat. The interior edge of the moat has been
revetted by sheet piling supporting the inner edge of the island. The
outer edge of the moat has been lined with concrete at the south-west
corner and is partially revetted in wood elsewhere. Entrance to the
island was originally across a drawbridge guarded by a 15th century
stone gatehouse. The drawbridge has subsequently been replaced by a
brick bridge which is excluded from the scheduling. The gatehouse is
suitably protected as a grade II* listed building and is excluded from
the scheduling. The moated island is also occupied by the upstanding
remains of Tilsworth Manor, a grade II listed building. The present
house has been extensively altered in the 19th and 20th centuries, with
other parts dating from at least as early as the 17th century. The
foundations of the building and stone-lined cellar of the house are
considered to date to the 15th century. The walls and out-houses between
the house and gatehouse are relatively modern. A modern footbridge
(excluded from the scheduling) crosses the east arm of the moat. All the
upstanding structures on the island and courtyard surfaces are excluded
from the scheduling although the ground beneath the structures is
included as it thought likely to preserve the remains of earlier
buildings and features (these include the remains of a stone oven and
malthouse recorded in 1483-4). The remainder of the island is level and
under grass.

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.

Tilsworth Manor moated site is important in terms of both the survival
of upstanding buildings, including the very fine 15th century stone
gatehouse, and the presence of historical documentation concerning the
earlier phases of the manorial site's construction and development.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Rickards, V, Thunder, C, The Victoria History of the County of Bedfordshire, (1912), 432-3
Schneider, J, The Manor of Tilsworth, unpublished local history text

Source: Historic England

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