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Halnaker House: a fortified medieval manor house and part of its landscaped grounds

A Scheduled Monument in Boxgrove, West Sussex

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Latitude: 50.8725 / 50°52'21"N

Longitude: -0.7107 / 0°42'38"W

OS Eastings: 490814.899927

OS Northings: 108906.224113

OS Grid: SU908089

Mapcode National: GBR DGH.74J

Mapcode Global: FRA 96DS.NY7

Entry Name: Halnaker House: a fortified medieval manor house and part of its landscaped grounds

Scheduled Date: 12 December 1958

Last Amended: 21 January 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018561

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31210

County: West Sussex

Civil Parish: Boxgrove

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Sussex

Church of England Parish: Boxgrove

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


The monument, which falls into two separate areas of protection, includes a
fortified medieval manor house and part of its garden and landscaped grounds,
situated at the end of a chalk spur which projects to the south from the main
ridge of the Sussex Downs, some 5km north east of Chichester.

The main buildings, which survive mainly as ruins incorporated into a modern
garden, range around a roughly north-south aligned, quadrangular walled
courtyard, constructed during the 13th and 14th centuries, with later
alterations and additions. Traces of an earlier, 12th century, house built by
Robert de Haye, are likely to survive as below-ground archaeological features.
The buildings are constructed of flint rubble and clunch with sandstone ashlar
dressings, with some later brickwork added during subsequent alterations and
repairs. The courtyard was entered through the southern range by means of a
grand gatehouse, built in the 14th century, which was originally defended by a
portcullis. The gatehouse was decorated with high quality dressed flintwork,
of which two storeys survive. Also surviving within the southern range are the
remains of the tower at the south western end and traces of 16th century

Across the courtyard in the northern range, were the principal domestic
apartments. The centrally placed entrance porch, which is of 14th century
date, provided access to the main hall above it, which was elaborately
decorated in the 16th century by Lord de La Warr, with intricately carved
panels and other enrichments. After further modifications in the 18th century
by the Duke of Richmond, the house was allowed to fall into decay during the
early 1800s. The eastern range is occupied by the remains of further domestic
apartments and a 13th century chapel, dedicated to St Mary Magdelene, which
remained in use until 1704, with a courtyard on its southern side. There are
no visible remains of the western range, but evidence for buildings will
survive in the form of buried features. The standing ruins are Listed Grade I.

Water was supplied to the house via a well situated immediately north of the
courtyard, and during the post-medieval period, by a sunken, octagonal
reservoir, situated on higher ground about 130m to the north east. This
feature, which descends in three terraces to a central depression at a depth
of about 3m, is known as `The Cockpit'and may have been subsequently used for
cock-fighting. Cartographic evidence suggests that the reservoir, a
rectangular garden earthwork and brick revetted terracing to the west of the
main courtyard, date to the 18th century.

Historical sources indicate that the medieval park in which the house was
situated originated in a grant of 1283. By 1570, the park was estimated to be
four miles in compass and capable of sustaining 800 deer.

Further buried archaeological evidence and environmental remains associated
with the house and gardens can be expected to survive in and around the main
courtyard, and may extend beyond the boundaries of the scheduling.

A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are the modern
fences, hardstanding, garden furniture, lighting and associated cables and the
later post-medieval red brick wall along the north western edge of the
monument, although the ground beneath these features is, however, included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Fortified houses were residences belonging to some of the richest and most
powerful members of society. Their design reflects a combination of domestic
and military elements. In some instances, the fortifications may be cosmetic
additions to an otherwise conventional high status dwelling, giving a military
aspect while remaining practically indefensible. They are associated with
individuals or families of high status and their ostentatious architecture
often reflects a high level of expenditure. The nature of the fortification
varies, but can include moats, curtain walls, a gatehouse and other towers,
gunports and crenellated parapets.
Their buildings normally included a hall used as communal space for domestic
and administrative purposes, kitchens, service and storage areas. In later
houses the owners had separate private living apartments, these often
receiving particular architectural emphasis. In common with castles, some
fortified houses had outer courts beyond the main defences in which stables,
brew houses, granaries and barns were located.
Fortified houses were constructed in the medieval period, primarily between
the 15th and 16th centuries, although evidence from earlier periods, such as
the increase in the number of licences to crenellate in the reigns of Edward I
and Edward II, indicates that the origins of the class can be traced further
back. They are found primarily in several areas of lowland England: in upland
areas they are outnumbered by structures such as bastles and tower houses
which fulfilled many of the same functions. As a rare monument type, with
fewer than 200 identified examples, all examples exhibiting significant
surviving archaeological remains are considered of national importance.

The fortified medieval house of Halnaker survives well and retains much
original fabric representing the various phases in its development. The
buildings, earthworks and buried remains will contribute towards our
understanding of the development of high status medieval residences and will
contain artefacts and environmental evidence relating to the function of the
buildings and the activities of their inhabitants.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Andre, J L, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Halnaker House, , Vol. 43, (1900), 201-213
Godfrey, W H, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in The La Warr Family and Halnaker House, , Vol. 82, (1941), 59-64

Source: Historic England

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