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Hartley Court moated site and enclosure

A Scheduled Monument in Burnham, Buckinghamshire

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Latitude: 51.5621 / 51°33'43"N

Longitude: -0.6364 / 0°38'11"W

OS Eastings: 494619.051701

OS Northings: 185686.334549

OS Grid: SU946856

Mapcode National: GBR F7L.1XK

Mapcode Global: VHFSV.XZFV

Entry Name: Hartley Court moated site and enclosure

Scheduled Date: 11 February 1981

Last Amended: 10 June 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018576

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27137

County: Buckinghamshire

Civil Parish: Burnham

Traditional County: Buckinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Buckinghamshire

Church of England Parish: Farnham Royal

Church of England Diocese: Oxford


Hartley Court moated site stands on a slightly elevated gravel plateau near
the north western corner of Burnham Beeches, to the north of the junction of
Morton Drive and Halse Drive. The monument includes a sub-rectangular moated
island, covering approximately 0.6ha, which is situated within a larger,
diamond-shaped enclosure of approximately 3.7ha.
The island is surrounded by a broad ditch, measuring 5m to 7m in width and
about 1.5m in depth, which retains water for much of the year supplied by
rainfall and the natural water table. The dry summer of 1976 provided an
opportunity to probe the ditches revealing accumulated deposits of silt,
between 0.5m and 1m in depth, above the original bottom. The outer edge of the
ditch is flanked around most of the perimeter by a low bank, about 3m wide and
0.6m high, which is thought to be upcast from dredging, probably during the
period of occupation. The inner edge supports a larger bank, about 4m wide and
up to 1m high, which is continuous around the edge of the island apart from
two small gaps to the west (believed to be later alterations) and a single
opening near the southern end of the eastern arm. This latter break coincides
with a gap in the outer bank and a narrow causeway across the moat, and is
thought to be the original entrance.
The interior is subdivided by several banks, measuring on average 2.5m in
width and 0.8m high; including a main partition orientated north to south
across the middle of the island, broken by a central gap, 10m wide. A second
bank runs parallel to the northern section of the main partition, some 17m to
the east, and the intervening area contains some slight undulations which
suggest the position of former structures. This has been suggested as the
location of the principal dwelling. The inner bank of the moat is slightly
higher between the two internal banks, which may have provided some protection
from northerly winds, and a house located here would have the advantage of a
southerly aspect. Furthermore, a short section of trackway identified in the
eastern part of the island is aligned between this area and the entrance, and
with the gap in the central partition. A range of outbuildings is indicated by
three low, square platforms abutting the inner moat bank near the south
eastern corner of the island; and by two linear platforms, about 10m in width
and 15m to 20m in length, which extend along the southern edge of the island
towards a small embanked area in the south eastern corner. The north eastern
corner of the island appears to have been enclosed by a bank, indicated by two
surviving sections aligned between the gap in the main partition and the
eastern arm of the moat. This area contains a circular depression, 1m in
diameter, which has been probed to a depth of 1m without reaching the base and
is certainly a well. The well lies within a slight hollow bounded by shallow
scarps which suggest the foundations of a protective structure. The uneven
appearance of the ground surface within the north eastern enclosure implies
the locations of other domestic buildings which, given the proximity of the
well, are likely to include kitchens, stores, brew and bake houses.
The outer enclosure measures approximately 200m between the north eastern and
south western corners and 330m between the corners to the north west and south
east, and is bounded by a bank and external ditch. The bank averages 3m wide
and 0.7m high and the ditch is generally the same width and about 0.6m deep;
except on the northern boundary where it has been recut to a depth of
approximately 1m. There are gaps in the circuit at the north west, north east
and south east corners, also at two points near the south east corner where
McAuliffe Drive crosses the enclosure. These are all matched by tracks noted
on the 1875 Ordnance Survey map, whereas two gaps in the western bank are
likely to be of recent origin. An original entrance may be located at the
eastern end of the southern arm, which differs from all others in that the
bank is broken but not the ditch. This entrance is aligned with a short
section of trackway identified to the north of McAuliffe Drive, leading to the
causeway across the moat. The ground within the outer enclosure contains
numerous undulations some of which, such as slight trackways skirting the
moat, may be be ascribed to the period of occupation. The boundary earthworks
are designed to keep stock, and other animals grazing the surrounding
woodpasture (such as swine and deer) out of the enclosure; perhaps with the
help of a fence along the bank. This would protect cultivated land within the
enclosure providing produce for the homestead.
`Hertleigh' wood is mentioned in the foundation charter of Burnham Abbey,
which lists grants of land from Richard, Earl of Cornwall, and was signed by
him at Cippenham Manor near Slough in 1266. The entrance to the moated site,
however, is directed towards East Burnham rather than to nearby Park Lane,
which is thought to have linked Burnham Abbey with its lands to the north; and
may indicate that the moated site remained, or originated in separate
ownership. The woodland retained by the Earl included a park called
`Herleteye' which is refered to in the appurtenances of Cippenham Manor in
1299. Hartley Wood and Court is mentioned (but not described) in the records
of a quarrel over adjacent rights of common in 1596. By the 17th century an
area with the same name was recorded in the possession of the Eyres of East
Burnham, and it has been suggested that the property may have been associated
with their predecessors, the Allard family, who owned Burnham Beeches from
The surface of McAuliffe Drive, the adjacent notice board and information
plaque are excluded from the scheduling together with all fences and fence
posts, although the ground beneath these features is included.

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

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.

Hartley Court is the best preserved medieval moated site in south
Buckinghamshire, and is amongst the finest in the region.
The undisturbed interior retains evidence for the subdivision of the island
into different areas of activity, and contains the buried remains of a complex
of former structures from which the function and duration of the site may be
determined. The seasonally flooded ditch maintains much of its original
appearance and still functions as originally intended. The deep silts and
waterlogged deposits within the ditch (and the well) will contain discarded
artefacts, including organic material, from the period of occupation; as well
as environmental evidence illustrating the appearance and management of the
medieval/post-medieval landscape.
The outer enclosure, similarly well preserved, is a rare example of the
extended appurtenances belonging to medieval settlements of this type. Buried
features and ground surfaces within its confines may provide valuable
information concerning cultivation, and other forms of husbandry associated
with the occupation of the island and the economy of the settlement and its
surroundings. The monument contributes to the amenity value of the Beeches,
providing the visitor with a graphic demonstration of the nature of a medieval
defended settlement and insights into the development of the present wooded

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
The Official Guide to Burnham Beeches, (1993)
The Official Guide to Burnham Beeches, (1993)
Page, F (ed), The Victoria History of the County of Buckinghamshire, (1914)
Page, F (ed), The Victoria History of the County of Buckinghamshire, (1914), 167
Miller, D D, Miller, D M, 'Records of Bucks' in Hartly Court Moat and Enclosure, (1978), 535-7
Miller, D D, Miller, D M, 'Records of Bucks' in Hartly Court Moat and Enclosure, (1978), 535-7
Ancient Monuments Record Form BU 138, Sherlock, D, Hartley Court Moat and Enclosure, (1980)
information from Assistant Keeper, Read, H, Hartley Court Moated Site and Enclosure, (1995)
SSSI schedule entry map (1:10,000 OS), Countryside Commission, Burham Beeches, Buckinghamshire, (1984)
SSSI schedule entry map (1:10,000 OS), Countryside Commission, Burham Beeches, Buckinghamshire, (1984)

Source: Historic England

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