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Moated site known as Caves Manor immediately east of the Manor House

A Scheduled Monument in Sherington, Milton Keynes

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Latitude: 52.1075 / 52°6'26"N

Longitude: -0.7021 / 0°42'7"W

OS Eastings: 488982.223903

OS Northings: 246252.128176

OS Grid: SP889462

Mapcode National: GBR CZD.WV5

Mapcode Global: VHDSV.S958

Entry Name: Moated site known as Caves Manor immediately east of the Manor House

Scheduled Date: 9 November 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019138

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29471

County: Milton Keynes

Civil Parish: Sherington

Built-Up Area: Sherington

Traditional County: Buckinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Buckinghamshire

Church of England Parish: Sherington with Chicheley, North Crawley, Astwood and Hardmead

Church of England Diocese: Oxford


The monument includes a medieval moated site located immediately to the east
of the Manor House (a Listed Building Grade II) at the southern end of
Sherington village, within the angle formed by Sherington Road and Croft's

The island is rectangular in plan, measuring some 95m north east-south west by
70m. The surface of the island is slightly raised above its surroundings and
generally level, except from a few low undulations towards the centre and some
vestiges of a perimeter bank at the eastern and western corners. The
surrounding moat measures between 6m and 10m in width. It is supplied by an
inlet at the eastern corner which is connected to a series of ditches leading
from the springhead some 200m further east. These ditches have been modernised
and are not included in the scheduling. An iron sluice gate and channel at the
southern corner provides the outflow. This has also been extensively repaired
and is similarly excluded from the scheduling.

Access to the island is provided by two footbridges on the north and west
arms. The bridge across the northern arm is constructed in brick with a single
archway, low parapet and iron railings to either side. The keystone on the
western face of the arch is inscribed with the date `1846' and the initials
`F C',presumably refering to Dr Cheyne who owned the property at that time.
The parish enclosure map of 1796 depicts a single bridge or causeway in the
same location, and it is considered probable that the original approach to the
island always lay on this side, aligned with the main street leading
northwards through the village.

The eastern arm of the moat is flanked by a substantial bank measuring some
10m in width and 1.5m high, with a level walkway along the ridge. This is
thought to have been created as a prospect mound from which to view either the
grounds of the original manor house, or the gardens which formed the setting
of the new manor house constructed to the west of the island in 1770. A small
icehouse lies buried within the centre of this mound. The main entrance
remains visible as a slot-like depression in the western face of the mound. A
second indentation on the ridge above marks the position of a characteristic
aperture in the roof of the ice chamber. The icehouse is thought to have been
constructed in the late 18th or 19th century in order to store supplies
(probably lifted from the moat) for the later manor house.

The moated island is thought to have been the site of the original manor of
Sherington (Serinton), constructed by the Carun family who acquired the fief
in the early 12th century. In about 1140 William de Carun granted the church
at Sherington to Tickford Priory (located about 3km to the south). In so
doing, he signified his allegiance to the priory's principal benefactor Ralph
Peynel, a prominent supporter of the Empress Maud in the period of civil war
(known as the Anarchy) which was soon to follow. The Carun estate may have
been damaged during this conflict. At the close of hostilities, William
relocated the manor to a position on the north side of the village (where it
stood until about 1780). The moated manor, relegated to a dependent position
and possibly ruinous, later passed into the hands of William le Vintner and
his wife Emma. Emma transferred the manor house to John de Cave in about 1255,
and it remained in the Cave family until the late 15th century, by which time
it had assumed the title of `The Manor of Caves' or `Caves Manor'. Richard
Maryot died in possession of the manor in 1491, although it continued in the
hands of his widow, Katherine, until at least 1527. William Montgomery
received the manor in an exchange of property in 1571, and in 1601 arranged to
settle the whole estate on his son, reserving only a corner of the old moated
mansion house for his lifetime and that of his wife. In 1627 Caves Manor was
conveyed by Sir Francis Clarke to Sir Richard Norton and it continued in the
possession of the Norton family until the late 17th century when it passed by
marriage to the Pargiters. On Thomas Pargiter's death in 1712 the moated manor
estate was inherited by his daughter Susannah and her husband, James Smith of
Passenham, Northamptonshire. Susannah's grandson Dryden Smith, a prosperous
shipbuilder based at Wapping, inherited the estate in 1770 and promptly
demolished the old house which still stood upon the island. The island was
then fashioned as a garden to enhance the setting of Dryden's new house (The
Manor) which he built immediately outside the moat to the west.

The two bridges, the iron sluice gate, and the 19th century gardener's
workshop located towards the centre of the island are all excluded from the
scheduling, 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.

The moated site known as Caves Manor immediately east of the Manor House
survives extremely well, having been retained as the garden setting of the new
manor house, constructed to one side of the island in the late 18th century.
The island will retain buried evidence for the earlier manor house and other
features relating to the period of occupation. Given the scale of the island,
which ranks amongst the largest in Buckinghamshire and north Bedfordshire,
these features may well include a number of ancillary buildings indicative of
its status as the principal manor in the locality prior to the Anarchy, and of
the development of the site over the ensuing centuries.

The moat, although doubtless disturbed during cleaning operations in the
past, is expected to retain some waterlogged deposits accumulated during
the lifetime of the earlier manor house. These will contain artifacts
discarded or deposited during the medieval occupancy which will reflect the
lifestyle of these inhabitants. Waterlogging may also have preserved valuable
environmental evidence illustrating the appearance of the surrounding
landscape at this time.

The raised walkway constructed along the outer edge of the eastern arm is a
significant indication of the extent to which the island was retained and
modified as the setting of the late 18th century house. Although by this
period formal water features and terraced walkways had fallen from fashion,
having been replaced on the greater estates by more naturalistic designs
favoured by Lancelot (Capability) Brown and others, smaller estates, such as
Dryden Smith's new manor, may not have been expected to be at the forefront of
such changes. Such gardens will, however, reflect the social expectations and
aspirations of the period. Although the modification of the moated site to
form a garden can be seen as a pragmatic decision, construction of the walkway
suggests a conservative attitude and perhaps an intention to reflect
established rather than progressive garden design.

The buried icehouse is also of considerable interest. Icehouses are
subterranean structures designed specifically to store ice, normally removed
in winter from ponds (or in this case most probably from the moat) for use as
a preservative and medicine. The construction of icehouses was initiated on
great estates in the 17th century, although they soon became common features
in the grounds of smaller town and country houses. Superseded in the late 19th
century, first by more effective methods of supplying ice and later the
introduction of artificial refrigeration, the majority of icehouses were
demolished or buried. Of the thousands originally built, some 1500 English
icehouses have now been identified through a combination of archaeological and
documentary research. Many of these, such as the example at Sherington,
provide direct evidence for the lifestyle of the inhabitants of their
associated houses and are considered to be of national importance.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County , (1920), 451-3
Chibnall, A C, Sherington: Fiefs and Fields of a Buckinghamshire Village, (1965), 26, 248
Enclosure map (first version), CRO: MA R/28, (1796)
Enclosure map (second version), Collison, W & Russell, M, CRO: IR/ 105 R, (1797)
Site visit notes (info from owner), Pike, A, SMR 4053 Manor House 600 yards South of Sherington Church, (1983)
Site visit notes, Farley, M, SMR 4053 Manor House 600 yards South of Sherington Church, (1972)

Source: Historic England

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