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Site of the medieval village, Cistercian Priory and post-Dissolution house and gardens of Lower Catesby, with associated ridge and furrow

A Scheduled Monument in Catesby, Northamptonshire

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Latitude: 52.2311 / 52°13'52"N

Longitude: -1.2456 / 1°14'44"W

OS Eastings: 451620.869776

OS Northings: 259481.719255

OS Grid: SP516594

Mapcode National: GBR 8SB.3WY

Mapcode Global: VHCVJ.C5CY

Entry Name: Site of the medieval village, Cistercian Priory and post-Dissolution house and gardens of Lower Catesby, with associated ridge and furrow

Scheduled Date: 9 September 2015

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1418427

County: Northamptonshire

Civil Parish: Catesby

Traditional County: Northamptonshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northamptonshire

Church of England Parish: Catesby St Mary and St Edmund

Church of England Diocese: Peterborough


The site of a medieval village founded in the C11 and a C12 Cistercian Priory, a post-Dissolution mansion and gardens and a field of associated ridge and furrow to the south-east.

Source: Historic England


Lower Catesby lies on Lower Lias Clay at the bottom of the broad valley of the River Leam. The scheduling includes the earthworks and buried archaeological remains of the medieval village of Lower Catesby, the Cistercian Priory of St Mary and St Edmund and the C16 manor house and gardens constructed by the Onley family. An area of ridge and furrow, part of the village’s common fields used by the Priory, is included in the scheduling, but in a separate area of protection.

The remains of the village are located to the north of the Priory site, in a linear arrangement centred at SP51519651. The earthworks of the west section of a hollow way are aligned east-west, probably the former main street of the village, and remains with rectangular crofts containing house platforms or tofts lie to the north and south of it. Aerial photographs show that the hollow way continues west towards the Leam, curving around the valley side before heading north, presumably leading to Newbold originally. Sub-rectangular earthworks immediately to the north of Home Park and Priory Cottage are likely to be the remains of fishponds, linked to the relict water channel to the west and the existing, remodelled rectangular fish pond to the east. It is suggested that the rectangular fish pond at the southern boundary of this field has medieval origins. Laughton suggests that it is probably the Pillory Water, a documented feature of the village, but its regular form suggests that it has been remodelled at a later date, which is likely to have compromised its archaeological potential and it is therefore not included in the scheduling. The field to the south of the fish pond, north of the drive to the Church and cottages, has slight earthworks generally of indeterminate form and function but interpreted as mounds and channels; a shallow linear feature leading from the south-west corner of the fish pond probably represent the buried remains of a water channel. Laughton suggests that this may have been the location of the village market place, a significant topographical feature of the village. For the survival of the earthworks and this potential historic importance, this field is included in the scheduling.

The site of the Priory and the C16 Onley house and gardens lie to the south of the drive centred at SP51535954. A number of localised C19 and C20 features here are not included in the scheduling; these are noted under the Exclusions later on. Nevertheless, the earthworks, parchmarks and aerial photographic evidence indicate that the buried remains of many of the Priory buildings survive, overlain by the foundations of post-Dissolution house and its associated garden features. The current church is believed to be built on the site of the Priory church, thus the conventual buildings lay to the south of it. Contemporary documentary evidence and antiquarian records of the mid-C19 strongly indicate the layout of the Priory and are detailed in the History section of this entry. The medieval stonework within the east range of the main house, photographed in 1861, probably formed part of the Nun’s church, located between the church choir and sacristy in the east range of the cloister garth. The Nun’s church known as St Mary’s had a west tower; the cloister would have been located to the south of the church and the refectory located on the opposite side of the cloister to the south. It is standard in monastic plans for the chapter house to be located on the east side of the cloister and the Prioress’s hall on the west and this interpretation is suggested by the Priory’s accounts. The Canon’s buildings included a chapel, dorter, hall, kitchen, buttery and privy all of which are mentioned in C15 and C16 accounts. Some of the Canons buildings are represented by parchmarks to the south of the current church, closer to the former mill leat diverted to the north of the Leam.

The parchmarks and earthworks of a significant terrace to the south-west of the church, recorded by the RCHME as standing at approximately 2m high and clearly apparent on recent aerial photographs, probably marks the position of the Onley mansion. To the west and north are earthworks, partially destroyed by the pig pens, which probably represent further buildings associated with the mansion or part of the Priory. A large ditch marks the western boundary of the site and is very likely to be medieval in origin and part of the water management system fed by the Leam for use in the Priory fishponds and later garden features. It probably served as a leat for a mill, one of two recorded in contemporary documents, one of which is probably identified on the 1638 map as lying to the south of the church. The RCHME recorded that the ditch is up to 2m deep, and that its outer bank is faced with stone rubble at the western end, although the stone may be imported from elsewhere. Linear features and depressions of basins to the east of the church are probably features of the mansion’s pleasure grounds overlying buried structural remains of the Priory buildings. To the south of the garden remains is an earthwork of a large pond which may have been a Priory fish pond or part of the mill’s water management system.

One field to the east of the road from Hellidon centred at SP51605904 has well-preserved broad ridge and furrow with interlocking furlongs, and represents the medieval system of agriculture which supported the settlement.

The scheduling is defined by two separate areas of protection; the largest including the fields to the north of the drive leading to Home Park, Priory Cottage and the church and south of the remodelled fish pond. The second area, containing the surviving ridge and furrow, is situated east of the track leading northwards out of the existing hamlet, centred on SP5175 5928.

At the west end of the pond, the scheduling boundary heads north until approximately SP51615973 then arcs in a gentle curve westwards to the easternmost bank of the river Leam taking in the earthworks and buried remains of the village and hollow way. The scheduling follows this bank of the Leam south and eastwards until the fenced boundary with a small yard to the south of the Old Coach House. The scheduling then heads northwards following the line of the rear garden boundaries of The Old Coach House, The Clocktower and Northstead House but not including the boundary fences themselves, until its junction with the drive to the church. The scheduling then heads westwards to the pig pens and follows the pens fence line, and the west, north and east boundaries of the gardens to Home Park and Priory Cottage, but not including the fences.

The drive to Home Park and Priory Cottage, their front, rear and side gardens; the pig pens to the south and the gardens at the rear and to the south of the Old Coach House, the Clocktower and Northstead House are not included in the scheduling.

The field of ridge and furrow is defined by a modern water course to the north and east, a fence line to the south and the road to Hellidon to the west.

There is considerable potential for undesignated heritage assets to survive outside of the scheduled area. These may take the form of standing structures or buried deposits but are considered to be most appropriately managed through the National Planning Policy Framework (March 2012) and are not therefore included within the scheduled area.

All modern fences and fence posts and paths are excluded from the scheduling. The church and enclosing ha-ha are excluded too, but the ground beneath the church and churchyard (not currently used for burials) is included in the scheduling as it is believed that the current church is on the site of the Priory church.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The medieval village, Priory, post-Dissolution mansion and gardens, and ridge and furrow at Lower Catesby is scheduled for the following principal reasons:
* Survival: for the extensive earthworks and parchmarks depicting the form and plan of the Priory, post-Dissolution mansion and gardens, settlement and associated features, and the well-preserved ridge and furrow which demonstrates the relationship between settlement and agricultural activity which underpinned the medieval economy;
* Potential: for the stratified archaeological deposits which retain considerable potential to increase our understanding of the physical characteristics of the buildings of both the Priory and settlement. Buried artefacts will also have the potential to increase our knowledge and understanding of the social and economic functioning of the monument within the wider medieval landscape;
* Documentation: for the exceptional level of historical and archaeological documentation pertaining to the settlement’s evolution. Extensive research drawn from contemporary records matched by the interpretation of archaeological remains provides an unusually in depth and comprehensive understanding of the monument and its occupants throughout its long-lived occupation, adding considerably to its national historic and archaeological importance;
* Diversity: for the range and complexity of features such as building platforms, crofts, trackways and the fish ponds, and the foundations of Priory buildings, water management features and the post-Dissolution house and gardens which, taken as a whole, provide a clear plan of the settlement and retain significant stratified deposits which serve to provide details of the continuity and change in the evolution of the settlement and Priory, the status of its inhabitants and the decline in its fortunes;
* Group value: the village, Priory, post-Dissolution mansion and ridge and furrow are closely associated functionally and historically. They have considerable group value as an ensemble and also with the listed buildings in Lower Catesby.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Allison, K J, Beresford, M W, Hurst, J G, The Deserted Villages of Northamptonshire, (1966)
Astill, G, Grant, A, The Countryside of Medieval England, (1988)
Aston, M, Austin, D, Dyer, C(eds), The Rural Settlements of Medieval England: Studies dedicated to Maurice Beresford and John Hurst, (1989)
Christie, N, Stamper, P (eds), Medieval Rural Settlement: Britain and Ireland AD 800-1600, (2012)
Dyer, C, Jones, R, Deserted Villages Revisited, (2010)
Hall, D, Turning the Plough. Midland Open Fields;landscape character and proposals for management, (2001)
Partida, T, Hall, D, Foard, G, An Atlas of Northamptonshire The Medieval and Early-Modern Landscape, (2013)
Roberts, B K, Wrathmell, S, An Atlas of Rural Settlement in England, (2003)
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments of England, , The County of Northamptonshire, (1981)
Taylor, J, Foard, G, Ballinger, J, Northamptonshire Extensive Urban Survey, (2002)
Laughton, J, 'Catesby in the Middle Ages: an interdisciplinary study' in Northamptonshire Past and Present, , Vol. 54, (2001), 7-32
Giggins, B L, Laughton, J, 'Catesby: an interdisciplinary study, part II' in Northamptonshire Past and Present, , Vol. 56, (2003), 15-53

Source: Historic England

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