Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

This site is entirely user-supported. See how you can help.

Thorpe Hall moated monastic grange

A Scheduled Monument in Selby, North Yorkshire

Approximate Location Map
Large Map »
Street or Overhead View
Contributor Photos »

If Google Street View is available, the image is from the best available vantage point looking, if possible, towards the location of the monument. Where it is not available, the satellite view is shown instead.


Latitude: 53.7781 / 53°46'41"N

Longitude: -1.1241 / 1°7'26"W

OS Eastings: 457814.934599

OS Northings: 431662.880356

OS Grid: SE578316

Mapcode National: GBR NSLR.FD

Mapcode Global: WHDBX.P9WH

Entry Name: Thorpe Hall moated monastic grange

Scheduled Date: 8 December 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017460

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30113

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Selby

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Selby St James

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument includes the remains of a medieval moated manor house site on the
north bank of the medieval drainage channel Selby Dam, to the north of Thorpe
Willoughby village.
Originally a grange of the Benedictine abbey at Selby, the property was leased
to Willoughby in the 13th century. When Selby Abbey was suppressed in 1539,
Thorpe was held directly by the abbey and was described as being a mansion
house with a dovecot and orchard, all surrounded by a moat. The same document
continues to list the closes, fields and garths of the grange which in total
was assessed at being worth ten pounds per year. The western part of the
monument is now occupied by a house built c.1800 which is Listed Grade II.
The monument includes a moat ditch that follows a roughly rectangular circuit,
orientated with its long axis lying east-west. Most of the circuit is very
well defined except for the southern half of the western moat arm and the
western half of the southern arm which survive as infilled features, the
former lying partly underneath Dam Lane, the rest lying within the garden of
Thorpe Hall. The rectangular island outlined by the moat ditch is
approximately 140m by 80m and is divided in two halves by a north-south moat
which is separated from both the north and south moat ditches by baulks about
10m wide. On the outside of both the north and east moat arms there is a
slight broad bank of material which is considered to be the result of dredging
operations conducted to maintain the moat after its initial construction. A
hedge line follows the southern side of the eastern half of the south moat
arm, and overlies a continuation of this external bank. The area to the east
of the central moat ditch includes a number of slight earthworks, including an
approximately 15m long slight depression orientated east-west, which is
interpreted as the silted remains of a fishpond. The area to the west of the
central ditch includes the present Thorpe Hall, together with a number of
outbuildings and sheds with surrounding gardens.
A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are all
buildings, sheds and greenhouses, all drive, path and patio surfaces, the
electricity power line, and all garden walls, timber and post and wire
fencing and the surface and foundations of Dam Lane; the ground beneath all
these features is, however, included in the scheduling.

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.

Around 6000 moated sites are known in England. They consist of wide ditches,
often or seasonally water filled, partly or completely enclosing one or more
islands of dry ground on which stood domestic or religious buildings. Some
moated islands were used for horticulture. The majority of moated sites
served as prestigious aristocratic and seigniorial residences with the
provision of a moat intended as a status symbol rather than a practical
military defence. The peak period of moat building was between about 1250 and
1350 and by far the greatest concentration lies in the central and eastern
parts of England. However moated sites were built throughout the medieval
period, and are widely scattered throughout England, exhibiting a wide variety
of forms, sizes and uses. They form a significant class of medieval monument
and are important for the understanding of the distribution of wealth and
status in the countryside. Many examples provide conditions favourable to the
survival of organic remains.
Thorpe Hall moated monastic grange is a very well preserved example of its
type. Medieval archaeological deposits will survive throughout the islands,
both under the present buildings and in open areas. Remains will include
building foundations, rubbish pits, and evidence of both small scale
industrial activity and gardening. The moat, still being partly water filled,
will retain well preserved organic remains. These may include timbering
related to one or more bridges across the moat, wooden and leather items lost
or thrown away, animal and fish bones, together with pollen, seeds and other
environmental remains which rarely survive elsewhere and will provide valuable
information into the life of the medieval site.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
'Record series' in Record series, , Vol. 13, (1893), 352
Le Patourel, H.E J, 'Monograph Series No 5' in The Moated Sites of Yorkshire, (1973), indexed
Le Patourel, H.E J, 'Monograph Series No 5' in The Moated Sites of Yorkshire, (1973), 128

Source: Historic England

Other nearby scheduled monuments is an independent online resource and is not associated with any government department. All government data published here is used under licence. Please do not contact for any queries related to any individual ancient or schedued monument, planning permission related to scheduled monuments or the scheduling process itself. is a Good Stuff website.