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Eresby Hall: the remains of a post-medieval house and gardens overlying a medieval manor house

A Scheduled Monument in Spilsby, Lincolnshire

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Latitude: 53.1659 / 53°9'57"N

Longitude: 0.085 / 0°5'6"E

OS Eastings: 539481.204364

OS Northings: 365224.62815

OS Grid: TF394652

Mapcode National: GBR KVM.J9K

Mapcode Global: WHJLY.8PQB

Entry Name: Eresby Hall: the remains of a post-medieval house and gardens overlying a medieval manor house

Scheduled Date: 22 October 1970

Last Amended: 20 July 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020032

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33133

County: Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: Spilsby

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Spilsby St James

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln


The monument includes the buried remains of Eresby Hall, a post-medieval house
with formal gardens located immediately to the west of the present Eresby
House and north east of Eresby House Farm. The Hall and gardens reused, and
partly overlie, the remains of a medieval manor house.

In 1086 land at Eresby, previously held by Aschil, was in the possession of
the Bishop of Durham. During the 12th century the land passed by marriage to
the de Bec family and in 1296 John de Bec was granted a licence to crenellate
the manor at Eresby. The de Becs retained Eresby until the early 14th century
when it passed by marriage to the Willoughby family and became a family seat.
In 1505 the lands passed to William Willoughby of Parham and during the 16th
century Eresby passed, via marriage, to Charles Brandon who built a new house
on the site, replacing the old manor house. The new house, constructed to the
south east of the earlier one, later became a minor residence of the family,
who made their home at Grimsthorpe. The property subsequently passed by
marriage to the Berties and later was in the possession of the Duke of
Ancaster. By the 18th century, formal gardens had been laid out around the
house. The house was accidently destroyed by fire in 1769 and by the 1790s
only a few outbuildings and a pair of gate piers survived. At the end of the
18th century, the two gate piers were made into one and topped by a
commemorative urn; this pier, Listed Grade II, still stands and is included in
the scheduling. The H-shaped building dating from the 17th century, known as
Eresby House, approximately 50m east of Eresby Hall, was originally a house,
converted to stables in the 18th century and reconverted to a house in the
late 19th century. Eresby House is a Listed Building Grade II and is not
included in the scheduling.

The buried remains of Eresby Hall lie to the south west of Eresby House. The
Hall, built during the 16th century, was depicted on 18th century maps as an
H-shaped building. To the north of the Hall was a turning circle, or carriage
sweep, with a central oval-shaped ornamental feature. A pair of gate piers,
shown in a sketch of 1791, are believed to have flanked the entrance to the
carriage sweep. The eastern pier, constructed in brick with ashlar dressings
and topped by an urn, as mentioned above, still stands, and the foundations of
the other pier will survive as a buried feature, together with the layout of
the carriage sweep. Beyond the gate piers, to the north, is a tree-lined
avenue which formerly led from the house to Spilsby church, about 1km to the
north east, the burial place of members of the Willoughby family. The southern
part of the avenue, extending to a distance of approximately 10m immediately
north of the standing gate pier, is included in the scheduling. The remainder
of the avenue, which is now interrupted by a bypass road, is not included in
the scheduling.

To the east of the Hall is a short west-facing scarp which marks the eastern
extent of the remains of the post-medieval gardens. A dry channel, aligned
east-west, indicates the location of the Hall and the northern edge of the
formal gardens, formerly laid out to the south of the Hall. The channel
measures approximately 20m in length, 4m in width and 1m deep, its southern
edge formed by a flat-topped bank, about 4m in width. These remains are the
only surviving parts of an extensive garden complex.

The visible and buried remains of the earlier medieval complex, representing
the 13th century manor, are located to the north west of those of the
post-medieval Hall. Limited excavations undertaken in the 1960s partly
revealed building foundations, approximately 50m north west of the Hall, and
the remains of a stone wall and a buttressed tower, 100m north west of the
Hall and adjacent to the moat. Excavated evidence suggests that the complex
took the form of a fortified house, including a great hall and kitchen, dating
from the 13th century. The building foundations, in sandstone and brick,
showed evidence of rebuilding or refurbishment in the mid-15th century, during
the time of the sixth Lord Willoughby. The stone wall, with the buttressed
tower at its west end, is believed to represent the northern curtain wall of
the medieval complex and to date from the 13th century. Part of a brick wall,
standing up to 1m in height approximately 45m to the south of the buttressed
tower, revealed during the excavations, is still visible above ground.

A subrectangular pond, known as `The Canal', located approximately 90m south
of the Hall site, formed part of the garden layout. The Canal has been
extensively altered and is not included in the scheduling. A Y-shaped pond,
known as `The Moat' lies immediately to the north and west of the remains
of the complex. The pond is believed to represent a post-medieval ornamental
water feature, possibly adapted from a medieval moat. The pond has been
significantly altered in modern times and is therefore not included in the

All fence posts are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath
them is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Post-medieval formal gardens are garden arrangements dating between the early
16th and mid-18th centuries, their most characteristic feature being a core of
geometric layout, typically located and orientated in relation to the major
residences of which they formed the settings. Garden designs of this period
are numerous and varied, although most contain a number of recognisable
components. For the 16th and 17th centuries, the most common features are
flat-topped banks or terraces (actually raised walkways), waterways, closely
set ponds and multi-walled enclosures. Late 17th and 18th century gardens
often reflect the development of these ideas and contain multiple terraces and
extensive water features, as well as rigidly geometrical arrangements of
embankments. Other features fashionable across the period include: earthen
mounds (or mounts) used as vantage points to view the house and gardens, or as
the sites of ornate structures; `moats' surrounding areas of planting; walled
closes of stone or brick (sometimes serving as the forecourt of the main
house); and garden buildings such as banqueting houses and pavilions. Planted
areas were commonly arranged in geometric beds, or parterres, in patterns
which incorporated hedges, paths and sometimes ponds, fountains and statuary.
By contrast, other areas were sometimes set aside as romantic wildernesses.
Formal gardens were created throughout the period by the royal court, the
aristocracy and county gentry, as a routine accompaniment of the country seats
of the landed elite. Formal gardens of all sizes were once therefore
commonplace, and their numbers may have comfortably exceeded 2000. The radical
redesign of many gardens to match later fashions has dramatically reduced this
total, and little more than 250 examples are currently known in England.
Although one of many post-medieval monument types, formal gardens have a
particular importance reflecting the social expectations and aspirations of
the period. They represent a significant and illuminating aspect of the
architectural and artistic tastes of the time, and illustrate the skills which
developed to realise the ambitions of their owners. Surviving evidence may
take many forms, including standing structures, earthworks and buried remains;
the latter may include details of the planting patterns, and even
environmental material from which to identify the species employed.
Examples of formal gardens will normally be considered to be of national
importance, where the principal features remain visible, or where significant
buried remains survive; of these, parts of whole garden no longer in use will
be considered for scheduling.

The foundations of the post-medieval house and formal gardens and remains of
the medieval complex at Eresby Hall survive well as a series of earthwork and
buried deposits. The buried remains will preserve information concerning the
extent, construction and subsequent alterations of both the post-medieval
house and gardens and the medieval complex which preceded it. The association
of the post-medieval remains with those of the medieval complex demonstrates
the development of the site over a period of 500 years and will contribute to
an understanding of the development of high status components of the medieval
and post-medieval landscapes. The remains of the post-medieval formal gardens
reflect the changing social expectations, aspirations and tastes of the
period. Limited archaeological excavation has demonstrated the survival of
buried remains on the site, and, as a result of detailed documentary research,
the site is quite well understood.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Field, N, White, A eds, A Prospect of Lincolnshire, (1984), 79-88
Field, N, White, A eds, A Prospect of Lincolnshire, (1984), 79-88
Foster, C W, Longley, T, 'Lincoln Record Society Publications' in Lincolnshire Domesday and the Lindsey Survey, (1924)
Lincolnshire archive office, ANC5/a/1/1, (1770)

Source: Historic England

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