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Great house and gardens at Hanging Houghton

A Scheduled Monument in Lamport, Northamptonshire

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Latitude: 52.3565 / 52°21'23"N

Longitude: -0.8994 / 0°53'57"W

OS Eastings: 475050.112703

OS Northings: 273729.0147

OS Grid: SP750737

Mapcode National: GBR BTX.7FD

Mapcode Global: VHDRL.C1CB

Entry Name: Great house and gardens at Hanging Houghton

Scheduled Date: 27 October 1972

Last Amended: 14 December 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017185

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30071

County: Northamptonshire

Civil Parish: Lamport

Traditional County: Northamptonshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northamptonshire

Church of England Parish: Lamport with Faxton All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Peterborough


The monument includes the buried and earthwork remains of a great house and
gardens at Hanging Houghton, located on the crest and slopes of a south
westerly projection of high ground at the western end of the hamlet.

The house was owned by the Montague family from 1471 until it was abandoned in
1665, following the demise of the entire family during the plague.
The house is depicted on a map of 1655, located in the north east corner of
an elaborate formal garden including knot gardens and terraced walks. It
survived as ruins as late as the 18th century.

The remains of the house and gardens are represented by a series of
rectangular areas defined by low earthworks and banks, measuring up to 0.75m
high. The remains of the house are visible as a low rectangular building
platform measuring approximately 40m by 30m in the north eastern angle of the
garden. Illustrations from the 17th century suggest that the house was built
with three bays and that its south elevation was symmetrical with a central
porch, typical of a late 16th or early 17th century date rebuilding.

Immediately to the west of the house there are earthwork enclosures marked by
low boundary banks which indicate the location of formal knot gardens. To the
west of the knot gardens are the remains of a large rectangular raised area,
which is shown on the 1655 map as an area of garden planted with trees and
surrounded by a system of formal paths. The boundary of the gardens is defined
by a continuous curving bank, measuring up to 4m high and 2m wide, enclosing
the site on the west and south sides.

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

Medieval great houses were the residences of high-status non-Royal households.
They had domestic rather than military functions and show little or no sign of
fortification, even of a purely cosmetic nature. Great houses share several of
the characteristics of royal palaces, and in particular shared similar
characteristics of size, sophistication, and decoration of the architecture.
Great houses usually consist of a group of buildings, including a great hall,
service rooms, one or more kitchens, several suites of chambers for the
owners, the household and its guests, and a gatehouse. Other ancillary
buildings are known to have been present but very rarely survive. Earlier
examples typically comprised a collection of separate buildings, but through
the 14th and 15th century there was increasing integration of the buildings
into a few larger buildings. By the later medieval period, such complexes were
commonly laid out around one or more formal courtyards; in the 16th century
this would occasionally be contrived so that the elevations were symmetrical.
Many great houses are still notable for the high quality of their architecture
and for the opulence of their furnishings. Several examples contain
substantially intact buildings, others consist of ruins or complexes of
Great houses are found throughout England, although there is a concentration
in the south and Midlands. Further north, great houses were more heavily
fortified, reflecting more unsettled political and social conditions, but
their domestic purpose and status were still predominant. Fewer than 250
examples of great houses have been identified. As a rare monument class which
provide an important insight into the lives of medieval aristocratic or gentry
households, all examples will be nationally important.

Gardens have a long history in England. The earliest recognised examples are
associated with Roman villas, while during the Anglo-Saxon and medieval
periods, herb gardens were planted, particularly in monasteries, for medicinal
purposes. The major development in gardening took place in the late medieval
and early post-medieval periods when the idea of the garden as a `pleasure
ground' developed.

Gardens of medieval and early post-medieval date take a variety of forms.
Some involved significant water-management works to create elaborate water
gardens which could include a series of ponds and even ornamental canal
systems. At other sites, flower gardens were favoured, with planting in
elaborately shaped and often geometrically laid out beds. Planting
arrangements were often complemented by urns, statues and other garden
furniture. Such sites were often provided with raised walkways or prospect
mounds which provided vantage points from which the garden design and layout
could be seen and fully appreciated. Whilst gardens were probably a common
accompaniment to high-status houses of the 16th century and later date,
continued occupation of houses and related use and re-modelling of gardens in
response to changing fashions means that early remains rarely survive

Gardens provide a valuable insight into contemporary aesthetics and views
about how the landscape could be modified to enhance the surroundings of a
house and symbolise the social hierarchy. Their design often mirrors elements
of the design of the associated house, particularly following the symmetry of
the buildings. Gardens were probably not uncommon in the medieval and post-
medieval period, but the exact original number is unknown. Fewer than 500
surviving examples of all types have now been identified. In view of the
rarity of surviving examples, great variety of form, and importance for
understanding high-status houses and their occupants, all examples of early
date retaining well-preserved earthworks or significant buried remains will be
identified to be nationally important; those not in use will be considered for

The great house and gardens at Hanging Houghton are represented by an area of
well defined earthworks in which evidence for the nature of the 15th to 17th
century house will be preserved. The later stages of occupation at Hanging
Houghton are well documented and include records of the period of abandonment.
The building platforms will contain buried evidence for the great house, barns
and other outbuildings, accompanied by a range of boundaries, refuse pits,
wells and drainage channels, all related to the development of the estate.

Buried artefacts, in association with the buildings, will provide further
insights into the lifestyle of the inhabitants and assist in dating the
development of the monument through time. Environmental evidence may also be
preserved, providing further information about the agricultural regime of the
estate and its economy. In addition, the remains of a formal garden survive
and are well documented, and this will allow consideration of changing
landscape fashions and aspirations among the landed gentry until the late 17th

Source: Historic England


survey map and text, RCHME, Manor House Site and Garden Remains at Hanging Houghton, Northamptonshire,
Various SMR Officers, Various unpublished notes in SMR, Notes in SMR 4398

Source: Historic England

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