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A late 16th century house, gardens and dovecote, 300m west of Mill Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Newton and Little Oakley, Northamptonshire

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Latitude: 52.4405 / 52°26'25"N

Longitude: -0.6983 / 0°41'53"W

OS Eastings: 488582.596417

OS Northings: 283303.380237

OS Grid: SP885833

Mapcode National: GBR CVB.Y13

Mapcode Global: VHDR3.VX7G

Entry Name: A late 16th century house, gardens and dovecote, 300m west of Mill Farm

Scheduled Date: 24 October 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016319

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21675

County: Northamptonshire

Civil Parish: Newton and Little Oakley

Traditional County: Northamptonshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northamptonshire

Church of England Parish: Geddington St Mary Magdalene

Church of England Diocese: Peterborough


The monument is situated to the south east of the village of Newton on the
north side of the River Ise. It includes the earthwork and buried remains of a
late 16th century house and gardens and a dovecote which is Listed Grade I.

The house of the Tresham family, who occupied the site from at least 1539
until the mid-17th century, was built in the late 16th or early 17th century
and enlarged by Sir John Langham in c.1660. In 1715 it was known as Newton
mansion, and an early 18th century plan provides evidence for the layout of
both the house and its formal gardens. The house was demolished shortly after
1720 and the gardens abandoned. There are no above-ground remains of the
house, which stood on a levelled terrace in the central part of the site, but
buried features in this area will provide information about its internal plan.

To the north, east and south of the house site are a series of neatly cut,
regular terraces and platforms which are considered to represent part of the
formal gardens laid out around the house. These remains reflect the layout of
the gardens as recorded in the surviving 18th century plan. To the east of the
house site the north and east sides of what was once the Old Court can be
traced, whilst to the south, the general outlines of the kitchen garden and a
small ornamental pond are visible. Further gardens existed to the north west
and included one of two kitchen gardens, walkways and the stable yard, but
much of this area has since been modified by later quarrying. The foundations
of one of the stable buildings, identified on the 18th century plan as the old
malt house, are visible approximately 110m to the west of the house site,
although its northern end has been truncated by quarrying. To the north east
of the stable area, standing on a large platform, is a dovecote. It is a
rectangular stone structure decorated with trefoil emblems on the eaves and is
divided internally into two compartments, each of which contains approximately
1,000 nesting boxes.

Further earthworks are visible to the south of the house site and include a
moated site, situated within a small area of woodland, and a sub-rectangular
enclosure. The latter is bounded by a slight bank and an external ditch on all
sides except at the south east corner where it has been cut by a former mill
leat. The western end of the enclosure is considerably higher than elsewhere
and two small platforms are visible here. The moated site is believed to be a
garden feature associated with the house. Its ditches are waterfilled and
approximately 1m deep.

All fence posts and an electricity pole are excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath these features is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Country houses of the late Tudor and early Jacobean period comprise a
distinctive group of buildings which differ in form, function, design and
architectural style from country houses of both earlier and later date. Built
after the dissolution of the monasteries they are the product of a particular
historical period in which a newly-emerged Protestant elite of lawyers,
courtiers, diplomats and other officials, mostly with close contacts at court,
competed with each other to demonstrate wealth, taste and loyalty to the
sovereign, often overstretching themselves financially. Their houses are a
development of the medieval hall with flanking wings and a gatehouse, often
looking inwards onto a courtyard; later examples tend to be built outwards,
typically on a U- or H-plan. The hall was transformed from a reception area to
an entrance vestibule and the long gallery and loggia were introduced. Many
houses were provided with state apartments and extensive lodgings for the
accommodation of royal visitors and their retinues.
Country houses of this period were normally constructed under the supervision
of one master-mason or a succession of masons, often combining a number of
designs drawn up by the master-mason, surveyor or by the employer himself.
Many designs and stylistic details were copied from Continental pattern-books,
particularly those published in the 1560s on French, Italian and Flemish
models; further architectural ideas were later spread by the use of foreign
craftsmen. Symmetry in both plan and elevation was an overriding principle,
often carried to extremes in the Elizabethan architectural `devices' in which
geometric forms were employed to express religious and philosophical ideas.
Elements of Classical architecture were drawn on individually rather than
applied strictly in unified orders. This complex network of influences
resulted in liberal and idiosyncratic combinations of architectural styles
which contrasted with the adoption of the architecture of the Italian
Renaissance, and with it the role of the architect, later in the 17th century.
About 5000 country houses are known to have been standing in 1675; of these
about 1000 are thought to survive, although most have been extensively altered
or rebuilt in subsequent centuries to meet new demands and tastes. Houses
which are uninhabited, and have thus been altered to a lesser degree, are much
rarer. Surviving country houses of the late Tudor and early Jacobean period
stand as an irreplaceable record of an architectural development which was
unique both to England and to a particular period in English history
characterised by a flourishing of artistic invention; they provide an insight
into politics, patronage and economics in the early post-medieval period. All
examples with significant surviving archaeological remains are considered to
be of national importance.

The earthwork remains of the late 16th century house at Newton are well
preserved and, together with the 18th century plan of the site, contribute
towards our understanding of the former appearance of this relatively high
status residence. The surviving earthwork and buried evidence, together with
historical documents, will provide a clear picture of the setting of the
house. Paths, wall foundations and other features will survive as buried
remains within the area of the courtyards, whilst the gardens themselves will
retain archaeological and paleo-botanical evidence for borders, parterres and
other elements of their planting and design, thus making an important
contribution to our understanding of both this garden and of 16th and 17th
century gardens in general.

The dovecote at Newton is a good example of this class of monument and retains
many of its original features, including typically small doorways, high window
openings, louvres (turret-like structures on the roof) and internal nesting
boxes. The presence of decoration, in the form of trefoil emblems, on the
eaves of the building, illustrate the prestige and decorative value which was
often associated with the construction of dovecotes between 1650 and the mid-
to late 18th century.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, , An Inventory of Archaeological sites in central Northamptonshire, (1979), 113-15

Source: Historic England

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