Ancient Monuments

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Moated site at Grove Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Ellesborough, Buckinghamshire

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Latitude: 51.7652 / 51°45'54"N

Longitude: -0.7904 / 0°47'25"W

OS Eastings: 483572.744703

OS Northings: 208080.512412

OS Grid: SP835080

Mapcode National: GBR D3J.BZ4

Mapcode Global: VHDVC.8W0P

Entry Name: Moated site at Grove Farm

Scheduled Date: 2 December 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018727

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32115

County: Buckinghamshire

Civil Parish: Ellesborough

Traditional County: Buckinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Buckinghamshire

Church of England Parish: Ellesborough

Church of England Diocese: Oxford


The monument includes a medieval moated site with an associated fishpond and
the remains of a post-medieval dovecote at Grove Farm.

The moated site includes a sub-oval island measuring approximately 70m north
to south with maximum dimensions of 46m east to west. The island is contained
by a ditch, or moat, which measures up to 16m wide and at least 2m in depth
and of which only the base is waterlogged. An outer bank, measuring some 6m
wide and 0.5m in height is thought to represent upcast from the ditch. This is
visible on the north and east sides of the moat. The south western corner of
the moat has been largely infilled in order to provide access between the
island and the farmyard to the south west. It is possible, however, that
access to the interior was originally provided by a narrow causeway which
crosses the northern arm of the moat.

About 6m to the north of the moat is an extension to the moat, which was
possibly used as a fishpond. This sub-square pond, which measures
approximately 24m wide, is marked on the 1805 Inclosure Map in its present

The remains of a square flint and brick dovecote, 6m in width, stand on the
northern half of the island. Three of the walls of the roofless building still
stand to a height of more than 3m, whilst the fourth wall is in a state of
near total collapse. The Victoria County History puts a possible 16th century
date on the dovecote, but it is more likely to be contemporary with the late
17th century Seytons Manor immediately south west of the moat.

The moat is likely to mark the original site of a manorial holding under the
honour of Wolverton, probably subinfeudated (or divided) before 1166 and of
which one moiety was afterwards known as Seyton's Manor or the Manor of Grove.
The present late 17th century Seyton's Manor may well represent the successor
to a house on the island.

Grove Farm house, the outhouses, the septic tanks for both Grove Farm and
Seyton's Manor, the concrete driveway, patio and ornamental stones, together
with the fences around the outside edge of the moat ditch are excluded from
the scheduling, although the ground beneath all these features is included.

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 Grove Farm survives well. Despite the construction of Grove
Farm house and associated modern features the island remains largely
undisturbed and will retain buried evidence for structures and other features
relating to the earlier periods of occupation. The buried silts in the base of
the ditches will contain both artefacts relating to the period of occupation
and environmental evidence for the appearance of the landscape in which the
monument is set.

Fishponds are artificially created pools of slow-moving fresh water
constructed for the purpose of cultivating, breeding and storing fish in order
to provide a constant and sustainable food supply. The tradition of
construction and using fishponds began in the medieval period and reached a
peak of popularity in the 12th century. They were largely the province of the
wealthier sectors of medieval society, and are considered important as a
source of information concerning the economy of various classes of medieval
settlements and institutions. The fishpond adjoining the northern part of the
moated site forms an integral part of the settlement and provides further
evidence for its economy and status.

Dovecotes are specialised structures designed for the breeding and keeping of
doves as a source of food and as a symbol of high social status. Most
surviving examples were built in the period between the 14th and 17th
centuries, although both earlier and later examples are documented. They were
generally freestanding structures, square or circular in plan and normally of
brick or stone, with nesting boxes built into the internal wall. They were
frequently sited at manor houses or monasteries. The 17th century dating of
the dovecote suggests an interesting later reuse for the island as an
ornamental feature or garden within the grounds of Seyton Manor, which had
itself obviously outgrown the confines of the moated island. Despite the
partial collapse of the dovecote, the structure retains clear evidence of its
former appearance, function and date, which, in turn, illuminate the later use
of the island.

The monument lies in an area where moated sites are fairly numerous, with
further moated sites situated at Terrick House, 200m to the north east, Apsley
Manor Farm 1.4km to the north west and Marsh 2.6km to the north west.
Comparisons between these sites will provide valuable insights into the nature
of settlement and society in the medieval period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Eland, G, In Buckinghamshire, (1923), 89-90
Page, W , The Victoria History of the County of Buckinghamshire, (1969), 331
Page, W , The Victoria History of the County of Buckinghamshire, (1969), 334-335
Title: Inclosure Map of Ellesborough Parish
Source Date: 1805
Bucks Record Office: IR 91 Q

Source: Historic England

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