Ancient Monuments

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Park Pale in Hamstead Marshall Park

A Scheduled Monument in Hampstead Marshall, West Berkshire

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Latitude: 51.3933 / 51°23'36"N

Longitude: -1.3991 / 1°23'56"W

OS Eastings: 441905.421

OS Northings: 166203.8506

OS Grid: SU419662

Mapcode National: GBR 81W.M39

Mapcode Global: VHC21.P7QQ

Entry Name: Park Pale in Hamstead Marshall Park

Scheduled Date: 3 September 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015953

English Heritage Legacy ID: 19012

County: West Berkshire

Civil Parish: Hampstead Marshall

Traditional County: Berkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Berkshire

Church of England Parish: Hamstead Marshall

Church of England Diocese: Oxford


The monument, which consists of nine separate areas, includes earthwork
remains of the park pale of a once extensive deer park, the area of land
enclosed by the pale being some 101ha in extent. The pale can be traced on the
ground around the west, south and east sides of the park, where it survives as
a series of disjointed portions of linear bank up to 0.8m high and 7m wide
with an external ditch 0.6m deep and 2.5m wide. Around the north side of the
park there is no pale, the boundary probably following the line of a natural
terrace along the south side of the River Kennet.
The deer park at Hamstead Marshall was first described in 1229, the King
granting William Marshall 20 does from Clarendon Forest from which to
establish a herd. Though a temporary disparkment occured in 1233, when Richard
Marshall rebelled against the Crown, it was restored in 1234 by Gilbert
Marshall, to whom the King awarded 20 does and 5 bucks from Chippenham
with which to restock the park. The Hundred Rolls for 1275-6 record that the
park again fell into disuse following the death of the owner, the Earl of
Norfolk. It was held by the Earl of Salisbury in 1333, who was responsible
for increasing its area by taking in further cultivated land. Finally around
1341 the Crown obtained control of the manor and park, holding it for much of
the Later Middle ages and adding, within its confines, a stud farm in 1347.
The deer park functioned until 1574, with deer recorded as being wild in the
area of the park well into the 20th century.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Deer parks were areas of land, usually enclosed, set aside and equipped for
the management and hunting of deer and other animals. They were generally
located in open countryside on marginal land or adjacent to a manor house,
castle or palace. They varied in size between 3ha and 1600ha and usually
comprised a combination of woodland and grassland which provided a mixture of
cover and grazing for deer. Parks could contain a number of features,
including hunting lodges (often moated), a park-keeper's house, rabbit
warrens, fishponds and enclosures for game, and were usually surrounded by a
park pale, a massive fenced or hedged bank often with an internal ditch.
Although a small number of parks may have been established in the Anglo-Saxon
period, it was the Norman aristocracy's taste for hunting that led to the
majority being constructed. The peak period for the laying-out of parks,
between AD 1200 and 1350, coincided with a time of considerable prosperity
amongst the nobility. From the 15th century onwards few parks were constructed
and by the end of the 17th century the deer park in its original form had
largely disappeared. The original number of deer parks nationally is unknown
but probably exceeded 3000. Many of these survive today, although often
altered to a greater or lesser degree. They were established in virtually
every county in England, but are most numerous in the West Midlands and Home
Counties. Deer parks were a long-lived and widespread monument type. Today
they serve to illustrate an important aspect of the activities of medieval
nobility and still exert a powerful influence on the pattern of the modern
landscape. Where a deer park survives well and is well-documented or
associated with other significant remains, its principal features are normally
identified as nationally important.

The park pale at Hamstead Marshall survives well and has detailed
historical documentation. It can be clearly related to other medieval
monuments which survive in the vicinity of Hamstead Marshall. The two motte
and bailey castles, the possible manor house site, fishponds and village
remains represent a medieval complex of a type which allows a valuable and
very complete insight into the social, economic and administrative
organisation within the medieval period.

Source: Historic England


NAR: Ref SU 46 NW 15,
Peake, H J E and Cheetham, F H, (1924)

Source: Historic England

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