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Watford Park: C18 garden remains overlying the shrunken medieval village of Watford and associated ridge and furrow cultivation

A Scheduled Monument in Watford, Northamptonshire

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Latitude: 52.3177 / 52°19'3"N

Longitude: -1.1193 / 1°7'9"W

OS Eastings: 460126.318977

OS Northings: 269211.183094

OS Grid: SP601692

Mapcode National: GBR 8RB.RSM

Mapcode Global: VHCV6.K03K

Entry Name: Watford Park: C18 garden remains overlying the shrunken medieval village of Watford and associated ridge and furrow cultivation

Scheduled Date: 21 February 2011

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021465

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35644

County: Northamptonshire

Civil Parish: Watford

Traditional County: Northamptonshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northamptonshire

Church of England Parish: Watford

Church of England Diocese: Peterborough


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of two phases of
designed landscape of the C18 which overlie part of the shrunken medieval
village of Watford and its associated ridge and furrow cultivation. The
monument is now open parkland. The designed landscape was associated with
Watford Court, a Grade II country house of C16 origins, demolished with
permission in the 1970s. Although the site of the house and the area of C19
formal shrubbery to the north have been developed for modern housing, the
gate piers to the Court, the enclosure wall, walled kitchen garden and coach
house are all listed at Grade II.

The earthworks were surveyed by the Royal Commission in 1981 and the National
Mapping Project has recorded the extent of visible parch marks. Parch marks
are caused by thinner crop growth over solid features such as masonry,
showing up on aerial photographs, or thicker crop growth over buried features
such as ditches. All of the information is documented in the Northamptonshire
Historic Environment Record. Further documentary and cartographic evidence
attests to the survival of the garden remains.

Watford village lies to the east of Watford Gap on Middle Lias clays and
silts. From at least the C13, the parish included three settlements all of
which had pre-Domesday origins. Murcott lay to the south-east and Silsworth
to the north, both subservient to the township of Watford which lay
approximately at the centre of the parish. Silsworth was deserted early and
enclosed in the C15. Most of the demesne of Watford formed a block of land
next to the manor house which was first enclosed in 1595. The desire to
create a park, mentioned in 1640, resulted in further complex land swaps and
enclosure in 1644 with the remaining part of the township surviving until
parliamentary enclosure (along with Murcott) in 1771 which related to

The earthwork remains of the medieval village are adjacent to, and south of,
Kilsby Road, which dissects the park. They comprise four small rectangular
closes, bounded by low scarps or shallow ditches with former building
platforms at their north ends. In the westernmost close are the buried
foundations of a rectangular stone building. To the rear are small paddocks
and a hollow way is evident aligned with the south side of the road. To the
north of Kilsby Road are three other small closes which have slight
indications of building platforms. Contiguous with the settlement remains are
pre-enclosure ridge and furrow comprises several pronounced furlongs with
headlands and joints.

Watford Court was sold to Sir George Clerke in the early C17 who enclosed
much of the Watford Lordship in 1644. The depiction of the estate in a very
small scale map in J. Morton's 'Natural history of Northants' of 1712 shows a
park west of Watford Court between Park Lane and Kilsby Road. The first
detailed plan of the park is of 1740, a survey of the parkland then belonging
to Edward Clerke, showing a rigid formal layout which probably includes
earlier C18 features. The parkland was divided into three areas named the
Upper Park, Park Meadow and the Home Park, united by a western avenue of

The earthwork and buried remains of the C18 garden depicted in the
cartographic evidence lie in the former Park Meadow and Home Park areas,
closest to the site of the Court. The principal driveway to Watford Court is
preserved as a parchmark and earthwork; the original tree avenue which lined
the route has been felled, but has been replanted with saplings. It seems
likely that the drive crossed the canal by a bridge, the buried
archaeological remains of which are expected to survive. Near to the site of
the house, the drive survives as a broad hollow-way up to 2m deep. To the
east is the earthwork of a canal aligned north-south which was probably fed
by the brook through a watercourse near to the south boundary of the park. At
the north extent of the canal, on its west side, is the earthwork of a
rectangular water feature, possibly moated with a central platform. To the
east of the canal, south of the driveway, a double pond with islands is
evident. As the driveway nears the site of the Court, it passes through
terraced formal gardens and parterres which survive as raised, levelled
platforms, bounded by scarps with double scarps on their steep west sides.
Other earthworks and parch marks represent a possible mount, filled-in ponds,
water management features and areas of former planting.

The listed buildings at Watford Park all lie immediately west of the
scheduled monument, outside the area of the scheduling. 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 gardens are garden arrangements which date between the early
C16 and mid-C18, 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 varied,
although most contain a number of recognisable components. For the C16 and
C17, the most common features are flat-topped banks or terraces, waterways,
closely set ponds and multi-walled enclosures. Late C17 and C18 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 used as vantage points to view the house and gardens: moats
surrounding areas of planting; walled closes of stone and brick 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 country gentry, as a routine accompaniment of the country
seats of the landed elite. Formal gardens of all sizes were once 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 cultivated. 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 the whole garden no longer in use will be
considered for scheduling.

The village was a significant component of the rural landscape in most areas
of medieval England. Although the sites of many villages have been occupied
continuously down to the present day, many have declined considerably in
size, particularly since of C14 and C15. The reasons for diminishing size
were varied but often reflected declining economic viability or population
fluctuations. As a consequence of their decline, parts of these villages are
frequently undisturbed by later occupation and contain well-preserved
archaeological deposits. The significance of the shrunken medieval village
remains at Watford is amplified by the adjoining ridge and furrow, evidence
of an extensive medieval cultivation system which takes the form of parallel
rounded ridges separated by furrows and which provided rich, well-drained
land for planting crops. In the context of the settlement, the headlands of
the open-field systems will provide important information regarding the
layout and chronology of the agricultural regime upon which the settlement

The earthwork and buried archaeological remains of the C18 gardens, shrunken
medieval village and ridge and furrow at Watford survive well. Supporting
evidence in the form of earthwork survey, the mapping of parch marks and
documentary and cartographic sources enables clear interpretation of the
remains and attests to their national importance. As the archaeological
remains have lain undisturbed beneath open parkland since the early C19,
there is a high potential to inform on the nature of medieval settlement and
agricultural practice and the design and structural components of the C18
formal garden. The archaeological remains of the medieval and C18 period have
group value with each other and with the listed structures associated with
Watford Court, itemised above.

Addison, C. Watford Court and Park (unpublished report c1995,
Northamptonshire Records Office)
Hall, D. The Open Fields of Northamptonshire: The Case for the Preservation
of Ridge and Furrow. 1983
Jacques, D 'Late C17/early C18 Parks; An investigation into their nature,
survival and vulnerabilities'. (Internal E-11-report, 2003)
RCHME. An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Northampton:
Vol III Archaeological Sites in North-West Northamptonshire. 1981., pp 191-3

John Morton. A Natural History of Northants - map of 1712.
Clement Wilson. A Survey of Watford Park in the County of Northampton
belonging to Edward Clerke Esq. 1740 (Northamptonshire Record Office NRO map
James Colleridge. An Exact Map of Watford Inclosures in the County of
Norhampton belonging to William Cartwright Esq. Surveyed 1760 (NRO map 3159)
William Cullingworth. An accurate Plan of the New Inclosures of Watford and
Muscott in the County of Northamptonshire surveyed in the year 1771 (NRO map
Plan of the Watford Park Estate Situate in the Parish of Watford, The
Property of Henry Pilkington Esq purchased by Lord Henley March 23 1836 (NRO
map 3162).
Tithe Map of the Parish of Watford, 1847 (NRO map T41)
Map of the Parishes of Watford and Crick c 1860 (NRO map 3160)
Map showing Lord Henley's Watford Estate, 1885 (NRO map 3217)

Source: Historic England

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