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Manorial settlement incorporating a medieval undercroft, 100m north of St John the Baptist's Church

A Scheduled Monument in Broad Clyst, Devon

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Latitude: 50.767 / 50°46'1"N

Longitude: -3.4452 / 3°26'42"W

OS Eastings: 298180.044968

OS Northings: 97375.911633

OS Grid: SX981973

Mapcode National: GBR P2.Y53L

Mapcode Global: FRA 37N1.ZKY

Entry Name: Manorial settlement incorporating a medieval undercroft, 100m north of St John the Baptist's Church

Scheduled Date: 21 October 1960

Last Amended: 25 November 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017194

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29692

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Broad Clyst

Built-Up Area: Broadclyst

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Broadclyst St John the Baptist

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


The monument includes part of the remains of a medieval undercroft (or vault)
and part of the manorial settlement of the Nonants family who held the manor
from about AD 1100 to 1340. The manor house itself no longer survives above
ground but the remains of its undercroft have been revealed in excavation and
its east wall is preserved in the east boundary wall of Broad Clyst
churchyard; further settlement remains associated with the manor house lie
immediately to the east of this wall and are included in the scheduling.
Excavations by A W Everett in 1959 revealed the well preserved walls of a
stone built vault of three bays with four vaulting corbels for the springing
of wall ribs. The results of Everett's excavation were never published and the
excavation trenches were backfilled, although he recorded dimensions of about
10m by 4.5m for the extent of the vault. The upper courses of the undercroft's
east wall have been incorporated, in antiquity, into a roughly coursed red
sandstone wall which acts as a boundary wall for the graveyard of the church
of St John the Baptist (this church was largely rebuilt, probably between 1395
and 1419). A 10m length of the inner (west face) of the medieval undercroft's
eastern wall, that section exposed by Everett's excavations, and part of the
north wall, project about 1.5m above ground level. The exposed east wall shows
three relieving arches of moulded sandstone and local volcanic trap closed
within masonry of the same material. The tympana (the areas between the
arches) are infilled with volcanic stone. The remaining masonry of the wall,
together with the vaulting corbels, north wall foundations, entrance, and four
steps, are known from excavation photographs and unpublished records, to
survive below ground. Studies of the photographs and field notes have
suggested a date of around 1300 for the construction of the undercroft and it
is considered, from comparison with other known examples of similar date, to
have been overlain by the solar (main living chamber) of the manor house. The
undercroft was probably terraced into the slope of the ground which falls
gently from the east towards the River Clyst. This appears to be confirmed as
the outer face of the east wall of the undercroft which is entirely hidden by
the higher ground on that side of the building. However, the flight of steps
which were seen in excavation in an entrance in the north wall demonstrate
that its floor was at least partially sunken below ground level. A substantial
artificial platform lies to the west of the undercroft and this suggests a
complex of considerable size in the medieval period with the area of higher
ground immediately east of the undercroft considered to preserve remains of
ancillary buildings which would have been at the core of the manor house
settlement; this area appears to have remained largely undisturbed, apart from
small scale cultivation, since the medieval period.
It is unclear what befell the manor house itself following the death of its
owner Sir Roger de Nonant some time around 1340, but medieval architectural
fragments have been recorded reused as building stone in some of the field
walls in and around the area in which the house stood and other small standing
sections of wall appear to survive within hedge banks although their antiquity
has not been firmly established. The effigy of a knight in armour, believed to
be that of Sir Roger, is located in the chancel of the nearby St John the
Baptist's Church.

All fencing, all garden sheds, and all gravestones which fall within the
area of the monument or its protective margin are excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath all of these features is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Manor houses of the medieval period were often provided with a stone built
vaulted undercroft above which would be located the living quarters, either a
hall in earlier medieval times or a solar (private chamber) in the later
medieval period. There are various types of vaulting and the technique has a
long and complex history of development but the typical form from the 12th
century to the later 13th century was the quadripartite bay (so called as the
bay roof was effectively divided into four by four ribs supported on wall
mounted corbels). A domestic undercroft of this period might comprise three,
four or more of these bays depending upon the wealth of the owner. The
undercroft, constructed of stone, was fireproof and was used for the storage
of provisions or items of special value. Placed beneath the owner's chamber it
could thus be kept under close supervision. Although they are sometimes
referred to as cellars, manor house undercrofts were not necessarily built
entirely below ground level, but, where they are sunken into the ground this
can aid their preservation when the manor house either falls into disuse or is
replaced by a later structure. All domestic undercrofts of the medieval period
with significant surviving archaeological remains are considered worthy
of protection.
Excavations have confirmed that the undercroft of the former manor house at
Broad Clyst survives in an exceptional state of preservation with its east
wall standing almost to its original height. Excavation records, although
unpublished, have been studied and have provided evidence for the likely date
of its construction to be around the turn of the 14th century. In addition
they have demonstrated that it consisted of three quadripartite bays which
would have lain beneath the solar. The manor house would have been sited at
the heart of the manorial complex and the high ground immediately to the east
of the undercroft (which has no history of disturbance) will preserve further
remains of the settlement. The monument will therefore provide archaeological
information on the architectural styles of the period and on the lives of
the inhabitants of the manor house, one of whom, Sir Roger de Nonant, is known
by name.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hoskins, WG, Devon, (1954), 351-2
Wood, E , The English Medieval House, (1965), 93

Source: Historic England

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