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Earthwork remains of a medieval hall, chapel and settlement, 290m south east of Capesthorne Hall

A Scheduled Monument in Siddington, Cheshire East

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.2502 / 53°15'0"N

Longitude: -2.2372 / 2°14'13"W

OS Eastings: 384270.643279

OS Northings: 372596.993726

OS Grid: SJ842725

Mapcode National: GBR DZTV.GM

Mapcode Global: WHBBM.LKWQ

Entry Name: Earthwork remains of a medieval hall, chapel and settlement, 290m south east of Capesthorne Hall

Scheduled Date: 16 April 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016590

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30393

County: Cheshire East

Civil Parish: Siddington

Traditional County: Cheshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cheshire

Church of England Parish: Siddington and Capesthorne Holy Trinity

Church of England Diocese: Chester

Details

The monument includes the earthwork remains of a medieval hall, a parochial
chapel and an abandoned medieval settlement preserved in the landscaped
grounds of the present Capesthorne Hall.
Capesthorne is recorded as Copestor in the Domesday Book and belonged to the
Earl of Chester. The Capesthorne family held the manor until 1386 when it
passed to the Ward family. The Wards commissioned a new hall to be built on
the present site of Capesthorne Hall in 1722 and the old hall was demolished.
This building stood 290m east of the present hall. Above it and 25m to the
north was the parochial chapel, also demolished when a new chapel was built
within the new hall complex.
The platform for the chapel survives as an earthwork about 20m by 6m,
orientated east-west and has a 20th century memorial pillar erected on it. To
the south east of the chapel there are extensive earthworks on the site of the
old hall. These are difficult to interpret but confirm the former existence of
a large building. To the east of these remains are the house platforms (tofts)
and enclosures (crofts) of about seven medieval houses running down the slope
flanking a hollow way. This led southwards following a former alignment of
the A34 road. The present A34 may have been diverted past the medieval hall
entrance when the present hall was built.
To the west of the old hall site there is an earthwork bank which leads from
the carriage turn in front of the present hall towards the site of the older
hall. This was marked as a driveway to the house in 1827. It seems that
Blore, who was commissioned to redesign the hall in 1837, altered the entrance
drive to conform to a more romantic scheme for the grounds. Between this bank
and the present driveway there are a number of earthwork traces of a field
system. These are degraded but are the remains of the field system of the
medieval village.
The pump and the post and wire fence which defines the eastern side of the
site, are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is
included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Medieval rural settlements in England were marked by great regional diversity
in form, size and type, and the protection of their archaeological remains
needs to take these differences into account. To do this, England has been
divided into three broad Provinces on the basis of each area's distinctive
mixture of nucleated and dispersed settlements. These can be further divided
into sub-Provinces and local regions, possessing characteristics which have
gradually evolved during the past 1500 years or more.
This monument lies in the Cheshire Plain sub-Province of the Northern and
Western Province, a gently rolling plain of red marl covered by ice-carried
clays, sands and gravels. It is diversified by occasional sandstone
escarpments, notably the Central Cheshire Ridge east of the Dee valley. It has
lower densities of nucleated settlements than surrounding areas, and high
concentrations of dispersed farmsteads and small hamlets. In the Wirral and
the lower Dee and Weaver valleys, the settlement mix is different, with low
and medium densities of dispersed farmsteads intermixed with more frequent
villages. Domesday Book records a thin scatter of settlement in the Wirral,
the Dee lowlands and the central and southern plain in 1086, with much
woodland.

Medieval villages were organised agricultural communities, sited at the centre
of a parish or township, that shared resources such as arable land, meadow and
woodland. Village plans varied enormously, but when they survive as
earthworks their most distinguishing features include roads and minor tracks,
platforms on which stood houses and other buildings such as barns, enclosed
crofts and small enclosed paddocks. They frequently included the parish
church or parochial chapel within their boundaries, and as part of the
manorial system most villages included one or more manorial centres which may
also survive as visible remains as well as below ground deposits. In the
central province of England, villages were the most distinctive aspect of
medieval life, and their archaeological remains are one of the most important
sources of our understanding about rural life in the five or more centuries
after the Norman Conquest.
Medieval villages were supported by a communal system of agriculture based on
large unenclosed open arable fields. These large fields were subdivided into
strips (known as lands) which were allocated to individual tenants. The
cultivation of these srips with heavy ploughs pulled by teams of oxen produced
long wide ridges and the resultant `ridge and furrow' where it survives is the
most obvious physical indication of the open field system. Individual strips
or lands were laid out in groups known as furlongs defined by terminal
headlands at the plough turning points and lateral grass balks. Furlongs were
in turn grouped into large open fields. Well-preserved ridge and furrow,
especially in its original context adjacent to village earthworks, is both an
important source of information about medieval agrarian life and a distinctive
contribution to the character of the historic landscape. It is usually now
covered by the hedges and walls of subsequent field enclosure.
The village of Capesthorne with its medieval hall and parochial chapel was at
the heart of the now extinguished parish of Capesthorne. The earthwork
remains will retain important information about the organisation of the
manorial system in this part of Cheshire. In particular, the foundations of
the old hall and the chapel will be traceable below the ground, enabling the
buildings to be further evaluated.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Morgan, P (ed), Domesday Book, (1976), fol 1.3
Other
SMR, (1998)

Source: Historic England

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