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Stainsby defended manorial complex including site of chapel

A Scheduled Monument in Ault Hucknall, Derbyshire

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Latitude: 53.1859 / 53°11'9"N

Longitude: -1.3295 / 1°19'46"W

OS Eastings: 444902.035792

OS Northings: 365633.59114

OS Grid: SK449656

Mapcode National: GBR 7C9.6QC

Mapcode Global: WHDFQ.K54Y

Entry Name: Stainsby defended manorial complex including site of chapel

Scheduled Date: 6 August 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015890

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29896

County: Derbyshire

Civil Parish: Ault Hucknall

Traditional County: Derbyshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire

Church of England Parish: Ault Hucknall St John the Baptist

Church of England Diocese: Derby


The monument includes the remains of the defended manorial complex at
Stainsby. The site is situated on the crest of a hill 12.8km south east of
Chesterfield and consists of the below ground remains of a manor house and
chapel, the surviving earthworks of the defensive ditch and rampart, the outer
circuit bank and fishpond. A hollow way is also evident as an earthwork to the
south west of the manor house leading to the chapel. The medieval manor house
is thought to have stood on the brow of the hill and underlies the Victorian
school building (now the Baden-Powell scout centre) and adjacent School House
which occupy the hill top today. A 19th century water colour shows the school
house (then known as the Manor House) to be `L' shaped in plan with mullioned
windows. During the laying of new water pipes to the west of the School House
stone footings of the western wing were revealed. This evidence appears to
indicate that the present school house incorporates fabric of a much earlier
building and that this building was originally much larger. It is interpreted
as a fragment of the earlier house. A cruck frame is incorporated towards the
south end of the School House.
The most visible archaeological features are the earthworks which enclose the
northern end of the manorial complex. There are three circuits or part
circuits of enclosing earthworks. The innermost surrounds an area about 130m
by 120m on the summit of the hill and defines the northern side of the
medieval manor itself. The largest earthworks are the defensive ditch, rampart
and fishpond which form a segmented arc approximately 150m long on the
northern flank of the hill. The material dug out from the ditch has been
banked up along the down slope to form an outer bank and to aid water
retention. The ditch was probably fed by a spring and lined with clay to make
it more impermeable. A natural spring is evident to the north west of the
school, about 5m south of the defensive ditch, which at this point remains
waterlogged. The outer bank runs in an almost continuous line broken by a
causeway approximately half way along its surviving length. This marks the
line of an ancient right of way which was widened and levelled by a previous
tenant farmer for the access of farm machinery. A second narrower causeway
running north west from the summit provides an entrance through the outer
The ditch is segmented having been cut by natural water erosion, the public
right of way and a third causeway to the north east of the school. To the east
of this causeway is the fishpond, which is the most clearly defined feature of
The pond measures approximately 45m by 30m and 2.2m deep. The level of
preservation of this feature and the relative lack of silting compared to the
rest of the ditch suggests the fishpond was a later reuse of the earlier
defensive ditch.
Although no upstanding earthworks can be seen on the field to the west of the
ditch, crop marks visible on aerial photographs do show the continuation of
the ditch to the west. This follows the curve and mirrors the form of the
surviving ditch and bank.
An outer circuit defines the north eastern quadrant of the complex. This is
the smallest of the earthworks and manifests as a low bank about 0.6m-1m high
which provides the basis of the existing field boundary. This follows the
curve of the inner defensive ditch and bank. No continuation of its south end
can be traced, but it would have originally been more extensive. Crop marks on
aerial photographs do show the continuation of the feature to the west. Modern
ploughing and open cast mining in the surrounding area will have contributed
to the degradation of this feature.
The enclosure created on the hill top by these defensive earthworks is
occupied by the manorial complex including the main manorial building. In a
field to the south of the School House are the earthwork remains of further
manorial buildings and other structures. Geophysical survey has indicated that
extensive buried remains survive throughout this field. To the south of the
innermost enclosure and west of Yew Tree Farm are the remains of a hollow way.
Partly overlain by the modern road the hollow way runs west for
approximately 200m where it is truncated by Hawking Lane. The southern side of
the hollow way survives to a height of about 1m. To the south of the hollow
way and at its westernmost extent is the site of the chapel, the remains of
which survive as an earthwork. The road verge around the west side of this
field is formed by a bank with a hedge on top (an unusual boundary for this
area). The base of the bank is composed of worked stone which may have come
from the hapel building. A geophysical survey in this field has identified
buried remains which are believed to relate to the chapel itself.
The full extent of the southern end of the manorial complex is not fully
understood. The enclosing earthworks may originally have extended further
south to include a larger area of the hilltop. However, no further trace
of defences is definable now. Continued settlement and use of the hilltop
has obscured earlier remains of both the defensive circuit and activity within
the enclosed area.
The manor of Stainsby, originally spelt Steinesbi, is first recorded in 1086
in the Domesday Book when it is described as the manor of Steinesbi and
Tunstall (with which it shared a priest). Immediately before the Norman
Conquest Stainsby was held by Steinulf as part of a much larger estate. The
break up of Steinulf's estate began at the Conquest and Stainsby was granted
by Henry II to William Fitz Walchel of Wakelin. It was then at least partly in
the royal forest and therefore under the jurisdiction of Forest Law, dictated
by the Crown's monopoly over the hunting rights. On the death of Fitz Walchel
Stainsby passed to his daughter Andeluya and her husband Robert Le Sauvage.
The park was probably enclosed for hunting soon after the grant of free warren
in 1199 although `parcum de Steynesbi' is not mentioned until 1260. By the end
of the 13th century the manor had become prosperous and the Crown recognised
its economic potential. By 1311 an additional yearly rent of 4lbs of cummin,
2lbs of pepper and costly spices had to be paid to the Crown. In addition to
Stainsby, the Sauvage family also held the manors of Rowthorne and Hardwick
for a time. Their main home remained at Stainsby, where in the 14th century
they maintained a chaplain. The manor remained the possession of the Sauvage
family until around 1583 when it was sold to the Cavendish family.
The Hardwick family, who were lords of the manor of Hardwick for six
generations and who built up substantial estates in the district, ended in the
mid-16th century with four co-heiresses, one of whom, Elizabeth (Bess of
Hardwick), took Hardwick itself as her share. Her second husband Sir William
Cavendish and their descendants pursued a steady policy of buying up estates
in the immediate environs in the parishes of Ault Hucknall and Heath. The two
major settlements in the parishes were Stainsby and Heath itself. It is
believed that the manor house at Stainsby ceased to be used as a family seat
at the time of the Hardwicks. It may have been used as a farmhouse for
sometime after or partly demolished, with its material being used for the
building or repair of Hardwick Hall.
By 1780 Stainsby had the second largest population in the area after Heath
with 32 households and by 1801 the census return for Stainsby recorded 97
houses and 492 persons. The village continued to grow and prosper until the
late 19th century when Stainsby's decline as the natural centre of the
parish began.
Two World War II air raid shelters are located in the field east of the Scout
Centre (provided for the pupils of the school) and survive, infilled beneath
the ground surface. These are still visible as earthworks and are included in
the scheduling.
A number of features within the area are excluded from the scheduling; these
are all modern boundary walls and fencing, all modern gates and water troughs,
the surfaces of all tracks, paths, driveways, hard stands, and yards, all out
buildings and garages, the School House, Baden-Powell Scout centre and Yew
Tree Farm, although the ground beneath all these features is included in the

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Manorial centres were important foci of medieval rural life. Local
agricultural and village life was normally closely regulated by the Lord of
the Manor and thus the inhabitants of these sites had a central interest in
many aspects of medieval life. Manorial sites could take many forms but the
key focus was the manor house which was often an elaborate building reflecting
the importance of the manorial lord. In addition to a manor house the
complex would have included stables and other buildings, including store rooms
for agricultural and other produce. Dovecotes used to keep doves as a food
source were also common as were fishponds. A chapel also existed at many sites
either within a room of the main manorial building or as a separate building.
In many areas of the country manorial complexes were located within a moat,
the moat further indicating the importance of the site but also providing an
element of defence. Elsewhere the manorial centre was located within a central
complex which included both earthwork and stone defences. Manorial complexes
provide a major insight into medieval life and all well preserved examples are
nationally important. The Stainsby complex is large and reasonably well
preserved. Its enclosing earthworks are of unusual form and survive
particularly well. The main defensive ditch remains waterlogged and will
retain important environmental evidence relating to the date of the site and
the environmental conditions at the time the site was in use.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Stainsby Geophysics, (1996)
Stainsby Geophysics, (1997), 3
Smith, L, Beamish, H, The National Trust Archaeological Survey, Hardwick Hall, Derbs, (1985), 44
film no. OS/64124 and 58/3591, National Monuments Record - Air Photographs,

Source: Historic England

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