Ancient Monuments

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Cistercian grange of Upper Smite, 200m south east of Mobbs Wood Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Combe Fields, Warwickshire

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Latitude: 52.4399 / 52°26'23"N

Longitude: -1.3733 / 1°22'23"W

OS Eastings: 442698.326318

OS Northings: 282624.77947

OS Grid: SP426826

Mapcode National: GBR 7NB.1LP

Mapcode Global: VHCT9.4XVX

Entry Name: Cistercian grange of Upper Smite, 200m south east of Mobbs Wood Farm

Scheduled Date: 9 October 1981

Last Amended: 7 July 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016847

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30066

County: Warwickshire

Civil Parish: Combe Fields

Traditional County: Warwickshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Warwickshire

Church of England Parish: Withybrook All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Coventry


The monument includes the known extent of earthwork and buried remains of the
fishponds and associated enclosures of the Cistercian grange of Coombe at
Upper Smite. Documents record that the Cistercian abbey of Coombe
depopulated an existing settlement at the site of Upper Smite in 1150. The
monks subsequently developed the site as a grange or farm, and the surviving
earthworks of the large fishpond complex and enclosures are believed to relate
to the period of the monastic estate.

A large artificially enhanced platform survives to the south east of the farm
and is overlain by traces of medieval ridge and furrow cultivation remains.
The platform is defined on its western and south eastern sides by hollow
ways measuring 8m wide and up to 2.5m deep and 4m wide and 1m deep

To the south of this platform is an area of small enclosures defined by
ditches, the largest measuring 35m north to south by 45m east to west. These
are believed to be animal pounds or stock enclosures.

A large `L'-shaped fishpond is located to the south east of the platform and
is defined by banks measuring up to 2.5m high and 6m wide; the banks are best
preserved on the western and northern sides of the pond. Remnants of a leat
orientated north east to south west cut through the longest side of the
pond, running to the south west. A second pond, now dry, is located to the
north east of the large pond. It is sub-rectangular measuring up to 2.5m deep,
10m to 12m long, and 5m wide.

Further earthworks and crop mark remains formerly survived to the east, south
and west of the monument, including remains of further enclosures associated
with the grange and possible remains of the former medieval settlement. These
remains have been extensively damaged by ploughing and are not included in the

All modern post and wire fences 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

A monastic grange was a farm owned and run by a monastic community and
independent of the secular manorial system of communal agriculture and servile
labour. The function of granges was to provide food and raw materials for
consumption within the parent monastic house itself, and also to provide
surpluses for sale for profit. The first monastic granges appeared in the 12th
century but they continued to be constructed and used until the Dissolution.
This system of agriculture was pioneered by the Cistercian order but was soon
imitated by other orders. Some granges were worked by resident lay-brothers
(secular workers) of the order but others were staffed by non-resident
labourers. The majority of granges practised a mixed economy but some were
specialist in their function. Five types of grange are known: agrarian farms,
bercaries (sheep farms), vaccaries (cattle ranches), horse studs and
industrial complexes. A monastery might have more than one grange and the
wealthiest houses had many. Frequently a grange was established on lands
immediately adjacent to the monastery, this being known as the home grange.
Other granges, however, could be found wherever the monastic site held lands.
On occasion these could be located at some considerable distance from the
parent monastery. Granges are broadly comparable with contemporary secular
farms although the wealth of the parent house was frequently reflected in the
size of the grange and the layout and architectural embellishment of the
buildings. Additionally, because of their monastic connection, granges tend to
be much better documented than their secular counterparts. No region was
without monastic granges. The exact number of sites which originally existed
is not precisely known but can be estimated, on the basis of numbers of
monastic sites, at several thousand. Of these, however, only a small
percentage can be accurately located on the ground today. Of this group of
identifiable sites, continued intensive use of many has destroyed much of the
evidence of archaeological remains. In view of the importance of granges to
medieval rural and monastic life, all sites exhibiting good archaeological
survival are identified as nationally important.

The Cistercian grange of Coombe at Upper Smite survives well as a series of a
earthworks and buried remains which will preserve evidence of its development
and establishment on the site of an earlier settlement.

The large fishponds were a dominant feature of the grange. Fish formed an
important part of the monastic diet, being consumed particularly on fast days
and holy days. Large fishponds are a particular feature of many Cistercian
estates. They will preserve both environmental and artefactual evidence
including information about the surrounding natural environment and
agricultural regime during the occupation of the grange. The fishponds will
also illustrate the technological and engineering methodology associated with
such water management features.

The area of small enclosures, believed to be stock pounds, and of medieval
ridge and furrow cultivation remains are also believed relate to the grange
which was constructed over or incorporated into the remains of the medieval
settlement. The earthworks will include buried land surfaces associated with
this period of the settlement. These will contain environmental and
artefactual remains which will illuminate the history of the settlement prior
to its desertion in 1150.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Beresford, M W, Deserted Medieval Villages of Warwickshire, (1945), 95-6
various SMR Officers, Various unpublished notes in SMR, WA5703 SMR Number

Source: Historic England

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