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Beauchamp Court moated site

A Scheduled Monument in Alcester, Warwickshire

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Latitude: 52.2266 / 52°13'35"N

Longitude: -1.8772 / 1°52'38"W

OS Eastings: 408481.552599

OS Northings: 258716.430454

OS Grid: SP084587

Mapcode National: GBR 3JW.67M

Mapcode Global: VHB08.D9YF

Entry Name: Beauchamp Court moated site

Scheduled Date: 18 September 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020035

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35052

County: Warwickshire

Civil Parish: Alcester

Built-Up Area: Alcester

Traditional County: Warwickshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Warwickshire

Church of England Parish: Alcester St Nicholas

Church of England Diocese: Coventry


The monument includes a medieval moated site located at Beauchamp Court, on
the west bank of the River Arrow. Beauchamp's Court came to the Beauchamp
family in 1266 and in 1340 Giles de Beauchamp obtained a licence to crenellate
his manor and to surround it with a wall of stone and lime. In 1503, on the
death of Richard Beauchamp, the manor passed by marriage to Robert, Lord
Willoughby de Broke and subsequently to Fulke Greville. Leland, the
antiquarian, noted in 1545 that Fulke Greville was building at Beauchamp with
stone taken from Alcester priory. Beauchamp Court ceased to be the principal
seat of the Grevilles after the first Lord Brooke had acquired Warwick Castle
in 1604, and the last member of the family to occupy Beauchamp Court appears
to have died in 1653. The house was empty in 1665 and by 1667 had been partly
demolished, with the remainder in use as a farm house. The present building
known as Beauchamp Court, a Listed Building Grade II, dates from the 18th
century, and is located approximately 300m to the east of the moat. The
building and its surrounding farm buildings are not included in the
The medieval complex takes the form of a moated island together with a
fishpond, located immediately to the south east of the island, and a series of
enclosures, including evidence of medieval ridge and furrow cultivation,
extending to the north of the moat. The moated island, fishpond and enclosures
cover an area measuring approximately 330m by 200m and are believed to
represent the remains of a medieval manorial complex.
The island is subrectangular in plan, measuring approximately 52m by 38m,
lying about 1m above the ground level to the south of the moat. The surface of
the island is slightly raised to the east and at the north west corner,
indicating the location of the buried remains of buildings, such as the manor
house and ancillary buildings, which formerly occupied the island. Stonework
dating from the 14th century has been recorded from the site.
The island is enclosed by a moat measuring up to 16m wide and 1.5m deep. The
northern moat arm retains some water and is lined by an external bank 5m in
width and standing up to 2m above the base of the moat. The east arm is
water-filled and widens at the north east corner, measuring up to 35m in
width. Water was formerly provided via a channel linking the north east corner
of the moat to the adjacent river. The south and west moat arms have been
partly infilled and, now visible as shallow depresions, will survive as buried
features. The remains of a subrectangular fishpond lies immediately adjacent
to the south eastern corner of the moat. The fishpond, now dry, measures 60m
by 14m and up to 1m deep.
A series of dry channels form enclosures on the north side of the moat. An
east-west channel, measuring 3m wide by 0.4m deep, lies approximately 10m
north of, and parallel to, the external bank lining the north moat arm. The
ditch, about 100m in length, feeds into a roughly subrectangular hollow at its
east end. The hollow, measuring approximately 28m by 20m and 0.5m deep with
irregular edges, is thought to represent a pond. Another channel following, a
sinuous line, leads northward from the pond.
A further channel, leading northward from the east-west ditch, branches into
a broad channel marking the eastern and southern extent of an area of
well-preserved broad ridge and furrow aligned east-west. The ridge and
furrow, measuring approximately 8m in width and up to 0.5m in height, is
marked by headlands to the east and west. A small area of ridge and furrow on
a similar alignment is visible on lower lying ground to the east, towards the
river, and is cut by a curving channel, aligned north-south. The channels
formed part of the system of water management.
All fence posts, telegraph posts and water troughs are 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.

A fishpond is an artificially created pool of slow moving freshwater
constructed for the purpose of cultivating, breeding and storing fish to
provide a constant and sustainable food supply. Groups of up to twelve ponds
variously arranged in a single line or in a cluster and joined by leats have
been recorded. The ponds may be of the same size or of several different sizes
with each pond being stocked with different species or ages of fish. The size
of the pond was related to function, with larger ponds thought to have had a
storage capability whilst smaller, shallower ponds were used for fish
cultivation and breeding. Fishponds were maintained by a water management
system which included inlet and outlet channels. The tradition of constructing
and using fishponds in England began during the medieval period and peaked in
the 12th century and were largely built by the wealthy sectors of society.
Despite being relatively common, fishponds are important for their
associations with other classes of medieval monument and in providing evidence
of the site economy.
The medieval moated site, fishpond and enclosures at Beauchamp Court survive
well as a series of earthworks and buried deposits. Waterlogging will preserve
organic remains (such as timber, leather, and seeds) which will give an
insight into domestic and economic activity on the site. In addition, the
artificially raised ground will preserve evidence of the land use prior to
construction. The good survival of the complex will preserve valuable evidence
of the way in which these components of the medieval landscape developed and

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Salzman, L F, The Victoria History of the County of Warwickshire, (1945), 12
Chatwin, P B, 'Birmingham and Warwickshire Archaeological Society' in Castles in Warwickshire, , Vol. 67, (1951), 28-29
NMR, Beauchamp Court, (2000)
Warwichshire SMR, WA6146, (1999)
Warwickshire SMR , WA6146, (1999)

Source: Historic England

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