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Moated site at Apsley Manor Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Ellesborough, Buckinghamshire

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Latitude: 51.772 / 51°46'19"N

Longitude: -0.8083 / 0°48'29"W

OS Eastings: 482322.86902

OS Northings: 208817.93551

OS Grid: SP823088

Mapcode National: GBR D3B.SK8

Mapcode Global: VHDVB.YQ1G

Entry Name: Moated site at Apsley Manor Farm

Scheduled Date: 2 December 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018729

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32117

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 house platform
and a sample of the surrounding medieval cultivation earthworks at Apsley
Manor Farm.

The moated site incorporates two islands, both originally trapezoidal in plan
which are separated by an intervening arm of the moat ditch. The northern
island measures approximately 42m north west-south east by between 28m and 48m
north east-south west and is raised about 0.3m above the surrounding ground
level. It is approached by a causeway across the eastern corner of the
surrounding moat. The southern island was originally larger than the northern
island and measured about 66m north west-south east. Only the northern half
survives, largely undisturbed however, measuring a maximum of 64m north
east-south west by 30m north west-south east. It provides a platform for the
Grade II Listed house, which dates from the 16th century, and a granary. The
southern part of the southern island is overlain by modern farm buildings and
is not included in the scheduling. Except to the south of the southern island,
where these features have been obscured by modern development, both islands
are contained by a ditch, or moat, between 6m and 10m in width and up to 1m
deep. An outer bank, approximately 4m wide by 0.5m high and thought to be the
upcast from the ditch, is also visible where the ditch survives. A depression
on the northern edge of the southern island is thought to mark the site of a
bridge connecting the two islands, which was mentioned as still surviving in
1913. A north west extension from the south western arm of the moat represents
an outflow channel which extends some 24m to connect with the brook flanking
the moated site. An external bank on the north east side of the outflow
channel is thought to be upcast from the ditch.

A building platform, which is aligned with the moat and measures approximately
18m square, is sited immediately to the south of the ditch which surrounded
the southern island of the moat. Although this ditch is now partly destroyed,
the 1805 Ellesborough, Great Kimble and Little Kimble Estate Map shows that
the moat ditch originally narrowed at the point between the southern island
and the building platform in order to prevent truncation of the platform. The
platform is considered to represent an ancillary structure related to the
moated site: perhaps a stable, barn or other building.

The pasture to the west of the northern island contains traces of medieval
cultivation (ridge and furrow) orientated at right-angles to the south western
moat arm, and believed to post-date its construction. A 10m wide sample of the
ridge and furrow is included in the scheduling in order to protect the
archaeological relationship between the cultivation earthworks and the moated

Although Apsley is first mentioned in 1247 when William of Appesley brought an
action against the Abbot of Missenden concerning a free tenement and rent in
Ellesborough, the Manor of Apsley is not directly mentioned until 1486-7 with
the death of Thomas Temple. The 1805 Estate Map shows the moat in its original
form, with a causeway across the no longer surviving southern arm of the moat
ditch. It also shows that the brook to the west of the moat was partly
diverted to feed the moat.

The house and barn, the patio, concrete steps cut into the moat ditch, the
fences and gates 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.

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 with two islands at Apsley Manor Farm survives well. The
northern island and the greater part of the southern island are largely
undisturbed and will retain buried evidence for structures and other features
relating to former periods of occupation. The adjacent building platform also
survives well and will provide evidence for settlement activity, as well as
the economy and status of the site. 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 was set. Part of the site's former use is clearly visible in the
surviving pattern of medieval cultivation which truncates the moat bank to the

The monument, which represents a variation of the more common single island
moated site, lies in an area where moated sites are relatively numerous,
enabling chronological and social variations to be explored. Further moated
sites are situated at Marsh, 1.1km to the north west, Grove Farm,
Ellesborough, 1.3km to the south east and Terrick House, Ellesborough, 1.45km
to the south east. Comparisons between these sites will provide valuable
insights into the nature of settlements and society in the medieval period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Allcroft, A H, Earthworks of England, (1908), 462-463
Page, W , The Victoria History of the County of Buckinghamshire, (1969), 333
RCHM, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Buckinghamshire, (1913)
Title: Ellesborough, Great Kimble and Little Kimble Estate Map
Source Date: 105
Bucks Rec. Office Ref: D/BMT/67R
Title: Ellesborough, Great Kimble and Little Kimble Estate Map
Source Date: 1805
Bucks Rec. Office Ref: D/BMT/67R

Source: Historic England

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