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Moated monastic grange and fishpond complex at Middle Battenhall Farm, 450m north of Upper Battenhall Farm

A Scheduled Monument in St. Peter the Great County, Worcestershire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.1752 / 52°10'30"N

Longitude: -2.1941 / 2°11'38"W

OS Eastings: 386825.069144

OS Northings: 253006.638414

OS Grid: SO868530

Mapcode National: GBR 1GC.Q3D

Mapcode Global: VH92T.XLGC

Entry Name: Moated monastic grange and fishpond complex at Middle Battenhall Farm, 450m north of Upper Battenhall Farm

Scheduled Date: 5 December 1977

Last Amended: 3 April 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017310

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31945

County: Worcestershire

Civil Parish: St. Peter the Great County

Traditional County: Worcestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Worcestershire

Church of England Parish: Worcester, St Martin with St Peter and Whittington

Church of England Diocese: Worcester

Details

The monument includes the buried and earthwork remains of the known extent of
the moated grange, fishpond complex and associated water control features of
the medieval monastic grange at Middle Battenhall Farm. The monument occupies
a shallow valley located approximately 3km to the south east of the Cathedral
Priory of Worcester, of which it was a possession. The site consists of a moat
and a system of four ponds with associated water control features which
originally formed part of a larger monastic deer park.

The moated site is surrounded on all sides by the three major fishponds, the
south western pond taking the place of a moat arm to the west and south sides
of the island which measures approximately 100m by 75m. The north and east
arms of the moat measure approximately 10m wide by up to 5m deep and slight
earthworks at the centre of the east arm may indicate the site of the original
entrance. Later ridge and furrow cultivation remains survive of the moat
island.

The south western pond measures approximately 200m east-west by 180m north-
south with the moated site occupying the north eastern corner. The pond was
constructed with two levels to allow variation in the depth of water. The
upper level of the pond is formed by two platforms, one in the south and one
in the north west. The pond is retained on its southern side by a 1m high bank
which runs along the edge of the brook, and on its west side by a substantial
dam measuring up to 5m high by up to 15m wide. The construction of the railway
line in the 19th century has removed any evidence for additional ponds to the
west of this bank.

A causeway measuring up to 4m wide by 3m high defines the northern edge of the
pond and forms the outer bank of the northern arm of the moat. This causeway
runs eastward for approximately 130m, before turning and widening to the south
and forming the outer bank of the eastern moat arm and the north western bank
of the south eastern fishpond, at which point it measures approximately 30m
by 85m. A second causeway 3m high by 2m wide runs southwards from its south
eastern corner to connect with the southern bank by the stream. This forms the
dividing bank between the two southern ponds.

The south eastern pond is sub-rectangular and is also on two levels. The lower
level is `L' shaped and measures approximately 80m from north to south by 120m
west to east. An 80m by 40m platform which forms the northern and north
eastern banks of the lower level forms the upper level of this pond, its
northern bank being approximately 1.5m high and located along the north and
east of the platform. This platform and the land immediately to its east also
contains ridge and furrow cultivation remains. A rectangular earthwork
measuring approximately 30m by 15m in the bottom of this pond adjacent to the
northern platform is believed to be the remains of a building, although it is
unclear whether this building was contemporary with the grange or a post-
Dissolution feature.

To the north of the moated site is the third fishpond which is `L' shaped and
runs north to south and east to west. This pond measures approximately 60m
north to south by 100m east to west and has a 1m high platform to allow
variation in water level forming the northern bank of the east-west arm. The
pond is retained on the south, west, and east by 2m high banks. The northern
area of this pond has been greatly damaged by the enlargement of a modern pond
which occupied its north western corner.

Running for approximately 130m in a north easterly direction from the north
eastern corner of the modern pond are the remains of what is believed to be a
fourth pond. This pond, which measures approximately 20m wide, is retained to
the north west and south east by 0.5m high banks, that to the north west
forming a low causeway through the pond towards the marl pit to the north
east. Although now mostly dry, it retains a water-filled area of approximately
20m by 10m. The marl pit 100m to the north east is not included in the
scheduling.

The area between the south eastern pond and the fourth pond is generally level
although it contains a number of earthworks which are believed to represent
further water control features such as leats.

All modern fencing is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground
beneath is included.

MAP EXTRACT
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 moated grange at Middle Battenhall Farm survives well. The island
preserves medieval ridge and furrow cultivation remains which may be expected
to overlie evidence of former structures, including both domestic and
ancillary buildings and their associated occupation levels. These remains
illustrate the nature of use of the site and the lifestyle of its inhabitants
in addition to providing evidence which will facilitate the dating of the
construction and subsequent periods of use of the moated site.

The moat is expected to preserve earlier deposits including evidence of its
construction and any alterations during its active history.

Fishponds are artificially created pools of slow moving fresh water
constructed for the purpose of breeding and storing fish in order to provide a
consistent and sustainable supply of food. The tradition of constructing and
using fishponds began in the medieval period and reached a peak of popularity
in the 12th century. Fishponds were often grouped together, either clustered
or in line, and joined by leats; each pond being stocked with a different age
or species of fish, which could be transferred to other bodies of water such
as moats. They were largely the province of the wealthier sectors of society,
and are considered important as a source of information concerning the economy
of various classes of medieval settlements and institutions.

The fishponds at Middle Battenhall Farm form an integral part of the monastic
grange and represent an important component of the medieval landscape in
addition to providing a complimentary source of information about the economy
and subsistence of the moats inhabitants. In addition, the site was the one of
the foremost ecclesiastical fish producing estates in the county, being the
possession of the Cathedral Priory of Worcester.

Although dry, the fishponds at Middle Battenhall are an exceptionally well
preserved and extensive survival of a complex system and are expected to
preserve evidence of their construction and use in addition to information
regarding their management routine.

The survival of Prior Moores fishery records are a rare survival which, in
conjunction with the high level of survival at Middle Battenhall, offer an
unusual opportunity to compare documentary and archaeological evidence.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Fagan, E, The Journal of Prior William Moore, (1914)
Fagan, E, The Journal of Prior William Moore, (1914)
Mundy, C , Woodiwiss, S, Excavation at Middle Battenhall Farm, (1987)
Raven, A, The Victoria History of the County, (1913), 514-5
Aston, M, 'Medieval fish, fisheries, and fishponds in England' in Worcestershire Fishponds, , Vol. 182, (1988)
Aston, M, Bond, C J, 'BAR British Series' in Medieval Fish, Fisheries and Fishponds in England, , Vol. 182, (1988), 435-455
Hickling, C, 'Medieval Archaeology' in Prior Moore's Fishponds, , Vol. XV, (1971), 118-23
Other
HBMC Schedule, (1988)

Source: Historic England

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