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Moated site at Fairfield Court

A Scheduled Monument in Belbroughton, Worcestershire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.3812 / 52°22'52"N

Longitude: -2.0813 / 2°4'52"W

OS Eastings: 394564.26937

OS Northings: 275907.755421

OS Grid: SO945759

Mapcode National: GBR 2FB.NM8

Mapcode Global: VH91X.WD2Y

Entry Name: Moated site at Fairfield Court

Scheduled Date: 16 January 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017526

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30003

County: Worcestershire

Civil Parish: Belbroughton

Traditional County: Worcestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Worcestershire

Church of England Parish: Belbroughton with Fairfield

Church of England Diocese: Worcester

Details

The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a simple rectangular
moated site orientated north to south and measuring approximately 110m by 70m.
On the island of the moated site is a timber framed house called Fairfield
Court, which is Listed Grade II*; it is in residential use and is not included
in the scheduling although the ground beneath it is included.
The moat is deeply cut into the natural Keuper Marl and outcropping red
sandstone in the sides of a sloping valley. Only three arms of the moat ditch
are now fully visible, the fourth, on the north side, was partly infilled in
modern times, concealing the original entrance to the island which was by a
drawbridge opposite the main entrance of the house. The arms of the moat
which are visible still hold water. The outer edges of the southern arm are
deepest in order to allow for the natural slope of the land. The width of the
moat ditch is relatively uniform being approximately 10m. The northern end of
the western arm of the moat has been landscaped to create an ornamental pond.
The island enclosed by the moat is approximately 90m by 50m and is terraced in
three stages to counter the natural slope. Fairfield Court is reputedly the
third house on the site, originating in the late 15th to early 16th century.
It occupies approximately half of the northernmost terrace. The remainder of
this terrace and the two southern terraces are laid out as gardens, largely
grassed. On the southernmost terrace are the remains of a well marked on
earlier maps, which has since been covered over. Records indicate that a
chapel was formerly situated immediately to the south of the house.
Fairfield Court is the successor of the Domesday manor of Forfeld which was
the home of Lady Godiva and Earl Leofric in the 11th century, held from the
monks of Worcester; the site may thus have Anglo-Saxon origins. The Manor was
located in the medieval Forest of Feckenham and the forest court for the
northern region, extending from the Trent, was held at the Manor. The house
was associated with recusant activities after the Reformation; it is said that
Father John Wall, one of the last Christian Martyrs, preached here in a chapel
constructed in the roof of the house.
All standing buildings and all modern walls, paths, surfacing, steps and
garden furniture, are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground
beneath them is included.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Around 6,000 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. In some
cases the islands were used for horticulture. The majority of moated sites
served as prestigious aristocratic and seigneurial residences with the
provision of a moat intended as a status symbol rather than a practical
military defence. The peak period during which moated sites were built was
between about 1250 and 1350 and by far the greatest concentration lies in
central and eastern parts of England. However, moated sites were built
throughout the medieval period, are widely scattered throughout England and
exhibit a high level of diversity in their forms and sizes. 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.

The moated site at Fairfield Court is a well preserved example of a simple
rectangular moat of manorial status. The moat has remained waterlogged and
organic remains will survive. Evidence for features such as a well, a free
standing chapel and at least two earlier phases of domestic building, together
with documentary evidence will give us a rare insight into the status of the
site and its occupants and provide important evidence for the development of a
moated site over a considerable period. The moated site has had a complex
history of different uses including a high status domestic dwelling, a
religious centre and uses associated with forest courts. Surviving
archaeological evidence will illuminate the development of, and relationships
between these various types of occupation.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Montgomerie, D H, The Victoria History of the County of Worcestershire, (1924), 427
Other
Aston, M, Unpublished survey and notes, unpublished information in SMR
Unpublished notes on Fairfield Manor, 1988, summaries of published information

Source: Historic England

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