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Penhallam medieval moated manor house, 360m south west of Ashbury Camp

A Scheduled Monument in Week St. Mary, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.7484 / 50°44'54"N

Longitude: -4.5175 / 4°31'3"W

OS Eastings: 222493.303201

OS Northings: 97327.905005

OS Grid: SX224973

Mapcode National: GBR NC.23G5

Mapcode Global: FRA 17F3.FVP

Entry Name: Penhallam medieval moated manor house, 360m south west of Ashbury Camp

Scheduled Date: 18 June 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013669

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15413

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Week St. Mary

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Jacobstow

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a late 12th-mid-14th century moated manor house in a
steep-sided valley floor near Week St Mary in north east Cornwall. This moated
manor house is a monument in the care of the Secretary of State.
Our knowledge of this monument and its visible appearance derives both from
surviving features and from evidence recorded during excavations undertaken
between 1968 and 1973; some excavated features have been reconstructed in situ
and consequently now form part of the visible monument.
The monument occupies much of a broad level basin in the floor of a deep
valley, south of the confluence of two minor tributaries of the River Neet;
the larger tributary flows SSE-NNW to the east of the monument, the smaller
tributary flows close south west-north east to the north west of the monument.
The monument is visible as a sub-circular moat cut into valley-floor deposits,
defining a central island which supports the walls and foundation trenches of
the manor house complex. The surviving walls are generally 0.75m-0.8m wide and
0.5m high but they rise to 1.4m high in the north west sector. The foundation
trenches recorded by excavation are now visible as modern, low, wire-framed
and turf-covered earth banks which are built over their courses.
The moat is flat-bottomed, from 5.5m wide and 1.5m deep on the south to 12m
wide and 1m deep on the north. It contains water on the north, east and south
but surviving silt deposits raise the west side above the water level. Water
enters the south east side of the moat from a feeder channel which now
drains marshy ground occupying the valley floor to the SSE.
The valley floor situation of this moated site required relatively major
water management works to ensure a controlled supply to the moat and avoid
periodic flooding. This was achieved by diverting the course of the larger
tributary to an artificial channel to the east of its valley floor and at a
slightly higher level. The diversion was created 250m south east of the moat,
where the meandering upstream course of the tributary is abruptly turned 10m
north east from its valley floor by a rock-cut channel. Then it returns to
flow north west and later NNW, following the markedly smoother course of the
artificial channel and maintained to the east of its former valley floor by an
earth and rubble bank. As it passes east of the moat, the bank enlarges to
form a distinct ridge, up to 15m wide and 1.5m high. South of the moat, the
former valley floor survives as silted and marshy land but the original means
of controlling the water supply to the moat will have required a sluice-gate
at the point of diversion into the rock-cut channel; that gate would be opened
to admit water as necessary to the moat's feeder channel along the former
valley floor and would be closed in times of flood. Silting largely masks the
line of the moat's feeder channel except over its final 55m SSE from the moat
itself. After passing around the moat, water leaves by a narrow channel to the
NNW, joining the smaller tributary north west of the moat.
The island defined by the moat measures up to 55m NNW-SSE by 48m ENE-WSW.
Excavation revealed its entrance on the south, initially by drawbridge
operated from a gatehouse on the edge of the island. This early 13th century
gatehouse was rubble-built, enclosing frame-slots for a counter-balanced
drawbridge which pivotted into a pit under the gatehouse. Roofing slates from
the gatehouse and an oak sill beam from the pivot frame were recovered during
the excavation. The drawbridge lowered onto a post-built bridge extending from
a stone bridge abutment on the south side. In the later 13th century, the
gatehouse and drawbridge arrangement was replaced by a fixed bridge with stone
abutments built against the truncated earlier structures on each side, rubble
from which is still visible, including the footings of the gatehouse. The
southern approach to the bridge was flanked by walls, up to 8.75m long. On the
island, walling survives of a passage from the gatehouse, and later bridge, to
the south range of the manor house, where there was an inner gateway.
The structural complex forming the manor house is visible as four ranges of
buildings around a subrectangular courtyard that measures up to 19m
north-south by 17m east-west. The excavations indicated that the surviving
plan resulted from four main building phases between the late 12th century and
the early 14th century.
The east range contains the earliest structure: the foundation trenches of a
large rectangular building measuring 12.5m long, north-south, by 6.1m wide
internally, with a midline row of three stone slabs for posts to carry a beam
for an upper floor. A fireplace was provided in the east wall. This building
is dated to c.1180-1200 and identified as a `camera', which housed, over an
undercroft, the first floor domestic apartments of the owner. A stone wall,
still surviving, partitioned the northern third of the undercroft in the later
13th century.
About AD 1200, a wardrobe and garderobe (toilet) were built onto the northern
end of the camera. The wardrobe measures 7m long by 3.8m wide, with the
garderobe chamber extending a further 1m from the northern end. Their walling
survives in part, as does a drainage channel curving north east from the
garderobe to the moat. Also in this phase, a flight of greenstone steps, whose
foundation survives, was built up to the north west corner of the camera.
The third and most extensive visible phase of building took place between
c.1224 and 1236, resulting in most structures of the north, west and south
ranges. The north range is dominated by the hall, extending west from the
wardrobe to which it was linked by a passage and a small screened room. The
hall measures 12.35m long, east-west, by 7.15m wide internally. At the east
end was a stone-revetted and partly paved raised area, called a dais, 0.22m
high, 2.13m wide and still visible extending 5.8m along the east wall. The
dais was the site of the high table, for which a stone-faced clay and rubble
bench extends along the east wall. Other benches line the north and south
sides of the hall. A millstone forms the base of a hearth in front of the
dais; on excavation, remains of a wattle-and-daub chimney hood were recovered
around the hearth. Fragments of greenstone window frames were found from
two-light windows with a quatrefoil opening above. The hall was entered from
the courtyard by a door near the south west corner. Two doors in the west wall
led to the service rooms that occupy much of the west range.
At the north end of the west range, the doorways from the hall open to the
buttery on the north and the servery on the south. The buttery, used for
serving wines and beers, measures 6.55m east-west by 4.5m wide internally and
was lit by a single inwardly-splayed, unglazed, slit window in the north wall.
The servery measures 6.7m east-west by 4.5m wide internally; in its south west
corner is a well, 1m in diameter and excavated to 1.68m deep. The large
foundations of the buttery and servery walls imply a former first floor,
access to which was provided by a stone stair with greenstone steps, whose
base is visible in the north west corner of the servery. The first floor rooms
had a garderobe; the surviving base of its shaft, 1.3m square internally,
projects beyond the north west corner of the buttery.
West of the buttery and servery, a single storey lean-to room, called a
pentice, accommodated the bakehouse. This measures 9.45m north-south by 4.25m
wide internally. At its north end, a malting kiln survives with a rubble
platform, 2.75m wide and to 0.9m high, spanning the width of the room. Near
its centre, a chamber, 1m in diameter with vertical sides, was heated by a
narrow flue, 1.1m long and 0.5m wide, extending to the southern edge of the
platform. In the north west corner, south of the platform, is a circular bread
oven, 1.35m in internal diameter, with a rubble and clay wall faced with small
rubble, cracked and discoloured by heat on the inner face. Excavation revealed
evidence for a second bread oven, raised above the floor in the south of the
South of the servery and bakehouse the west range accommodated the kitchen and
pantry. The kitchen and the rooms fronting onto the south west corner of the
courtyard were rebuilt in the fourth building phase, c.AD 1300, on the early
13th century foundations, possibly due to a fire. The kitchen measures 8.1m
north-south by 5.35m wide. Excavation revealed its original central hearth was
replaced by a fireplace whose hearth remains visible beside the south wall.
The fireplace hearth has a millstone at its centre with a cobbled surround,
raised slightly above the kitchen floor level and edged by narrow slabs. West
of the kitchen, the pantry was a pentice, like the bakehouse. It measures
7.92m north-south by 4.27m wide internally; the northern 2.75m of its interior
is occupied by the rubble base of a high level oven. A drain, partly covered
by slabs, runs west from the kitchen, across the pantry floor and under its
west wall, to empty into the moat.
The southern end of the west range was occupied by the lodgings for the chief
retainers. This was a two storey building extending the alignment of the
kitchen to its north and now surviving largely as foundation trenches. These
delineate an undercroft measuring up to 9m north-south by 5.35m wide; the
northern 2.25m of the undercroft was partitioned to form a passage to a
rubble-built garderobe which projects west from the lodgings and served both
floors. The ground floor of the garderobe survives to 1.3m high, with a
dividing wall separating the eastern half, serving the undercroft, from the
base of the shaft serving the first floor; the garderobe drained to the moat
beneath rubble arches in its dividing wall and west wall. Access to the first
floor of the lodgings was by a stone stair whose rubble base is visible in the
courtyard beyond the lodgings' north east corner.
The western half of the southern range, between the lodgings and the entrance
passage from the gatehouse, is occupied by the larder. This measures 5.64m
east-west by 4.5m wide internally, with lower courses largely still surviving.
This room was provided with a stone-lined cool storage pit in its north east
corner, measuring 1.6m long, 1m wide and surviving 0.25m deep, but 0.9m deep
when excavated.
Beyond the entrance passage, the eastern half of the southern range is
occupied by the chapel, which formed part of the c.1224-1236 building phase.
The chapel also has largely intact lower courses and measures 10.36m east-west
by 4.42m wide internally. At the east, the sanctuary, 2.5m wide, is slightly
raised and demarcated by a slab-edged step. The sanctuary supports the rubble
base of the altar, which on excavation measured 1.68m wide and extended 0.76m
from the east wall. Rubble benches extend along the south and west walls, and
part of the north wall. A doorway opens to the courtyard slightly west of
centre in the north wall. The excavation recovered fragments of tracery from
the east window, along with parts of inwardly-splayed narrow windows with
pointed-arched heads, all in greenstone. Painted wall plaster from the east
wall was also found.
The chapel's east wall originally extended north to meet the south wall of the
camera; later this was replaced by a wall 2.1m to the east, whose lower
courses survive. This latter wall included a gateway at its southern end
giving access from the courtyard to the periphery of the island.
The excavation indicated that this manor house was falling into decay shortly
after the mid-14th century, followed by demolition and extensive robbing for
building stone. Historical records show that the manor of Penhallam formed
part of the honour of Cardinham, held by Richard fitz Turold in 1087, and by
his descendants, eventually the de Cardinham family, until the male line
became extinct with the death of Andrew de Cardinham in c.1256. It is Andrew
de Cardinham who is considered responsible for the major third building phase
at this monument. By 1270, Andrew's heiress, Isolda de Cardinham, had given
Penhallam to the Champernowne family, who held the manor for the remainder of
the site's occupation. During much of the early 14th century, Penhallam manor
was tenanted from the Champernownes by the Beaupre family. In 1319, Isabella
de Beaupre obtained a licence from the Bishop of Exeter to say mass in her
oratory at Penhallam. Partitioning of the manor's lands began in the 1330s
and had been completed by 1428.
All English Heritage notices, fixtures and fittings are excluded from the
scheduling but the ground beneath them 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 manor house at Penhallam is one of the very few medieval moated
sites in south west England, situated well beyond the main national
concentrations of moated sites in central and eastern England. It is unusual
on a national level as a manor house retaining its full and unmodified ground
plan as abandoned in the 14th century, and on a regional level, in south west
England, as an example of this period and layout of manor house. The
excavation at this monument has elucidated the ground plan of the manor house
and its phased development. Some areas remain substantially intact,
notably the western sector of the moat and its water inflow system. The finds
recovered during the excavation have also provided structural information and
amplify our knowledge of the domestic activities at the monument. The
importance of the surviving and excavated information is supplemented by the
known historical identification of this manor and the families that held it,
enabling the fortunes of its physical remains to be set in their social

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
DoE/HBMC, , Anc Mons Terrier for Penhallam Medieval Manor (Bury Court), (1984)
DoE/HBMC, , Anc Mons Terrier for Penhallam Medieval Manor (Bury Court), (1984)
Beresford, G, 'Medieval Archaeology' in The Medieval Manor of Penhallam, Jacobstow, Cornwall, , Vol. 18, (1974), 90-145
Preston-Jones, A, Rose, P, 'Cornish Archaeology' in Week St Mary, Town and Castle, , Vol. 31, (1992), 143-153
Preston-Jones, A, Rose, P, 'Cornish Archaeology' in Medieval Cornwall, , Vol. 25, (1986), 135-185
Appended to the AM terrier for site, Site history note labelled SAM 1100 and file ref AA 74537/1,
CAU, Cornwall MPP Class Evaluation for Ringworks; comments, (1992)
Cornwall SMR entry PRN 2059.2,
DoE/EH/HPG, DoE note on Penhallam for AM Board, 9/1979; HPG site notices,
DoE/HBMC/HPG, DoE notes on Penhallam for AM Board, 9/1979; HPG signs on site,
Note appended to AM terrier for site, Note on site history for SAM 1100 and file AA 74537/1,
pp 4-6; Type A1c, Darvill, T C, EH MPP Monument Class Description for 'Moats', (1988)
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 2297
Source Date:

various dates between 1979 & 1994, DoE/HBMC/HPG, Penhallam: DoE notes to AM Board, 9/1979; AM Terrier;HPG notices,

Source: Historic England

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