Basing House and the Grange Field
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
- Location Description:
- Basing House, Old Basing and Lychpit, Basingstoke and Deane, Hampshire
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Location Description:
- Basing House, Old Basing and Lychpit, Basingstoke and Deane, Hampshire
- Basingstoke and Deane (District Authority)
- Old Basing and Lychpit
- National Grid Reference:
Basing House is a multi-period site comprising a C12 circular ringwork castle with a quadrilateral bailey (known as the Citadel); the remains of the C16 ‘Old House’, built within the ringwork, and ’New House’ to the east, C16 curtain wall, gate and gardens to the north-east, C17 Civil War earthwork defences to the south and the remains of the C18 Basingstoke Canal to the north and east of the Citadel. Across the lane known as The Street to the north is the Grange which includes a C16 barn, C16 fish ponds, the buried remains of other C16 farm buildings and a C17 hunting lodge.
Reasons for Designation
Basing House, a multi-period site encompassing a C12 ringwork castle, remains of a C16 Great House with its ancillary buildings and fish ponds, C17 Civil War defences and an C18 canal, is scheduled for the following principal reasons:
* Rarity: the monument includes a rare example of a C12 ringwork castle, approximately 200 of which are known to survive in England, and the remains of the largest non-royal C16 palace in the country;
* Survival: archaeological remains relating to the early medieval, medieval and post-medieval period are known to survive well. The ringwork is a particularly well preserved example;
* Historic interest: as the site of an important and well documented siege during the Civil War which is represented by physical evidence including earthwork defences;
* Potential: partial excavation and geophysical survey have indicated that the monument retains a high degree of archaeological potential for buried remains, especially from the C16 and C17.
There is archaeological evidence, in the form of finds, of Iron Age and Roman occupation of the site. The ringwork castle is probably of C12 date, built by the de Port family; Hugh de Port having been awarded the parish of Basing after the Norman Conquest. The first documentary reference to a castle at Basing comes from the later C12 when John de Port confirmed the grant of the Chapel Of St Michael with the land of the old castle at Basing to the Priory of Monk Sherbourne. However, this may refer to the motte and bailey castle to the north-east of Basing House known as Oliver’s Battery (a scheduled monument, NHLE entry 1010866). In 1261 Robert St John obtained a licence to fortify his residence at Basing with a ‘paling’ indicating that the earthworks were topped with a timber palisade. Little is known of any later medieval buildings except for a few fragments of flint foundations excavated towards the south of the ringwork.
In 1525 Sir William Paulet (1474/5?-1572) inherited Basing and in 1531 a licence to crenellate was granted and major work undertaken on the ‘Old House’ built within the ringwork bank. William Paulet was one of the principal Tudor administrators, successfully serving four monarchs from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I and amassing many offices and titles (including Marquess of Winchester in 1551). Along with these came a large fortune which enabled him to make Basing House the largest private residence in Britain. This was achieved with the addition of the ‘New House’ to the north-east of the ringwork, possibly c.1561, implied by an excavated inscription reading ‘all these new works up the a.d. 1561’. Other C16 works include the curtain wall and towers to the north of the house, the Great Barn (completed in 1535) and the creation, or at least brick-lining, of three fishponds.
The house was the site of royal visits by Henry VIII in 1535, Edward VI in 1553, Mary I (following her marriage to Prince Philip of Spain at Winchester Cathedral) in 1554, and Elizabeth I on five occasions. These royal visits proved financially ruinous and by 1635 Basing House was described as ’...now forsaken and desolate’.
During the First Civil War (1642-5) Basing House was held for Charles I by John Paulet, 5th Marquess of Winchester (1598?-1675) and became the principal Royalist garrison in North Hampshire due to its strategic location covering the roads between London and the West Country. The house was besieged by the Parliamentarians three times, fighting off an assault in November 1643 by Sir William Waller and surviving a prolonged siege between June and November 1644. The house finally fell to an assault on 14 October 1645 by forces led by Lieutenant General Oliver Cromwell after a siege which had begun in August of that year. The house was thoroughly looted and largely destroyed by a fire which burned for 20 hours and ‘left but bare walls and chimneys’. Parliament subsequently decreed that ‘whoever will come for brick or stone shall freely have the same for his pains’.
At the Restoration, Basing House was restored to the Paulet family in 1662 but the house was never rebuilt, the family moving to Hackwood Park, 5 km to the south. However, Charles Paulet, 6th Marquess (1674-99) built a ‘convenient lodging’ in the Grange Field, dated by excavated inscribed window leads to 1677, probably as a hunting lodge. The Marquess (created 1st Duke of Bolton in 1689) also undertook significant landscaping of the ruins to create a pleasure garden. The hunting lodge was demolished in the mid-C18.
In the late 1790s the Basingstoke Canal was cut through the site, slicing through the remains of the New House and destroying parts of the curtain wall. From 1875 and continuing into the early years of the C20, archaeological excavation of the site was undertaken by Lord Bolton. Further investigation of the site was carried out in the 1960s. In the early 1970s Basing House was purchased by Hampshire County Council and opened to the public. In 1989-90, a formal parterre in early C17 style, by Elizabeth Banks Associates, was laid out within the Tudor walled garden. A programme of archaeological investigation, which started soon after Hampshire’s acquisition of the site, is ongoing.
INVESTIGATION HISTORY The site was excavated sporadically between 1875 and 1908, then by Lord Bolton in 1911 (the finds from which are in the on-site museum). Between 1962 and 1966 the Aldermaston Archaeological Society excavated the area to the south of the ringwork. Following the purchase of the site by Hampshire County Council an extensive and on-going series of excavations have been carried out including: 1979 (the ringwork and bailey); 1980-81 (the inner gatehouse, Old House kitchen range and moat); 1982-83 (the inner gatehouse and ringwork); 1987-88 (formal garden); 1988 (ringwork bank); 1990 (north range of the New House); 1999-2000 (New House and Grange hunting lodge); 2002-3 (Grange farm buildings and culvert); 2008 (ringwork ditch); 2009 (bailey gatehouse). The HCC work from 1978-1991 was published as a monograph by Hampshire Field Club and Archaeological Society in 1999. Work from 1991 has been published on the HCC Basing House website.
The scheduled area is divided into two parts by a lane known as The Street. South of the lane the scheduling includes the earthwork banks and ditches of the Citadel and the remains of the Old and New Houses and the C17 Civil War earthworks (all Listed Grade II); the garden (walls listed Grade II); towers (Listed Grade II and II*) and curtain walls; the Civil War earthworks and the surviving part of the C18 Basingstoke Canal. This area is also a Registered Historic Park and Garden (Grade II). North of the lane, in the area known as Grange Field, the scheduling includes the Great Barn (Listed Grade I); buried remains of the C17 hunting lodge and other C16 buildings and culverts; and C16 fish ponds.
DESCRIPTION The southern area of the site includes the circular ringwork, approximately 75m in diameter to the top of the bank which is around 10m high from the foot of the ditch. The remains of the Old House constructed within the ringwork consist of upstanding brick retaining walls and remains of a hexagonal kitchen range to the north-west. Subterranean remains include the cellar to the hall, footings of other buildings, a well and a large drain. A gap in the earthworks to the north, flanked by the foundations of a gatehouse, leads to the bailey which is reached via a Tudor bridge. The bailey is rectangular in plan and surrounded by a ditch. The foundations of a second gatehouse are located in the western side of the bailey. To the east of the bailey is the site of the New House, which extends to the eastern boundary of the site before being truncated by the line of the Basingstoke Canal. It has buried foundations and the remains of a large well. To the north are the partially revealed remains of a brick stable block.
To the south of the ringwork, and separated by a ditch of uncertain date, are the earthwork banks and ditches of three Civil War bastions. To the north-east of the ringwork stand the surviving sections of the Tudor curtain wall (with a height of between 2.4m and 3.7m and showing evidence of Civil War loopholes), at either end of which are two well-preserved octagonal towers. The eastern tower (listed Grade II) has a thatched roof and the western, which was later converted into a dovecote, a tiled roof (Listed Grade II*). The wall forms the eastern wall of a walled garden with a C20 parterre. To the east of the garden is an orchard where the casualties of the siege are reputedly buried. The remains of a further tower, at Turret Cottage, stand to the north-east (Listed Grade II). All walls and the towers/dovecote are of red brick English bond.
To the east of this tower is the only remaining unfilled section of the Basingstoke Canal extending as far as the Grade II listed canal bridge. At the north-west corner of the southern area of the site stands Garrison Gate (Listed Grade II), the only surviving gate to Basing House, enhanced by late-C19 rusticated battlements.
The northern area of the site includes the brick southern boundary wall (Listed Grade II), the Grange Field which contains the buried remains of the C17 hunting lodge and C16 farm buildings and culverts and three brick-lined C16 fishponds to the north. The listed C19 farm buildings and the southern farmyard are not included in the scheduled area.
EXCLUSIONS All fencing, modern gates and bridges, roads, gravel paths, parterre, seats, information panels and signage, wooden ticket office, WC block, sandbox, the Great Barn (Listed Grade I), C19 buildings - Basing House and the Bothy (both Listed Grade II), wooden viewing platform and stairs on the southern bank of the ringwork and field gun display, are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all these features is included.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
- Legacy System number:
- HA 7
- Legacy System:
- RSM - OCN
Books and journals
Allen, D, Turton, A, Basing House (Guidebook), (2010)
Godwin, G N, The Civil War in Hampshire, (1904)
John Adair , , They saw It happen – Contemporary accounts of the Siege of Basing House, (1981)
Peter Harrington, , English Civil War Archaeology, (2004)
David Allen, , Alan Turton, , 'Current Archaeology 142' in Basing House, (1995), 388-392
David Allen, , Sue Anderson, , 'Hampshire Field Club and Archaeological Society - Monograph 10' in Basing House, Hampshire, Excavations 1978-1991, (1999)
Hughes, M F, 'Landscape Hist' in Hampshire Castles and the Landscape 1066-1216, (1989)
Stephen Moorhouse, , 'Post-Medieval Archaeology - Volume 4 (1970)' in Finds From Basing House, Hampshire (c.1540-1645): Part One, (1971), 31-91
Basing House, accessed from http://www.channel4.com/programmes/time-team/4od#2928279
Paulet, John, Fifth marquess of Winchester (1598?-1675), accessed from http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/21621?docPos=11
Paulet, William, First marquess of Winchester (1474/5?-1572), accessed from http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/21622?docPos=12
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing