Northolt Manor moated site and early medieval village, 72m north-east of St Mary’s Church.
Reasons for Designation
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.
Northolt Manor moated site and early medieval village survives well. The manorial settlement is well recorded in documentary sources. It is visually associated with St Mary’s Church and together they form a major landscape group in an accessible public open space. Partial excavation has recorded significant remains of an early medieval settlement and a sequence of manor house buildings on the site. It will contain further archaeological and environmental information relating to its occupation and history and to the landscape in which it was constructed.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 26 September 2014. The record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.
The monument includes an early medieval village and a medieval moated manorial site surviving as earthworks and below-ground remains. It is situated on a ridge of London Clay on the north side of Belvue Park in Northolt.
The moated enclosure is sub-rectangular in plan and about 100m long north-west to south-east and between 90m and 68m wide, narrowing towards the south-east. It is retained by earth banks to the west, south and east where the ground falls away. The moat is a large ditch up to about 20m wide, elsewhere it has become part-infilled and survives as a buried feature. At the centre is a square island or platform about 50m long by 40m wide.
The site contains remains of the early medieval village of Northolt, dating between about 600 and 1300 AD, surviving below-ground. Partial excavation has revealed a complex of pits, ditches, post-holes, timber slots, pebble and clay floors and hearths. A rectangular hut 4.5m by 5m with a central post-hole, gravel floor, hearth and possible porch was also identified. Overlying the remains of the village is a succession of three medieval manor houses. Partial excavation has shown that after about 1300, the village was levelled and the earliest moat was dug. A half-timbered manor house was built with kitchen, wooden outbuildings and stone perimeter wall. In the early 1350s, a larger moat was dug, clay was spread over the site to create a building platform and the manor house was rebuilt. It included a large hall, 10.5m long by 9m wide, with a clay hearth in the centre and two cellars at either end. It had decorated floor tiles and an elaborate brick chimney. There were a series of other buildings and a bridge on the north-east side. In about 1370, the manor house was pulled down and rebuilt on a smaller scale. After 1475, there was extensive robbing of the walls of the manor house. Later occupation was represented by brick walls dating between the 16th and 18th centuries immediately north-west of the moat.
Documentary sources record that in 1086 Northolt Manor was held by Geoffrey de Mandeville. It remained in his family until about 1230. From about 1231 until 1339, it was occupied by the Botiler family before passing to a succession of London merchants. In 1370, an inquiry was carried out into the partial demolition of the manor house by Alice, widow of Thomas Francis. She was alleged to have dismantled and sold the timbers of the hall and inner court, four chambers, a grange, and cattle shed, together valued at more than £250. In 1399, the Crown granted the manor to Westminster Abbey who held it until 1540, when the abbey surrendered its estates to Henry VIII. In 1541, it was granted to Thomas Thirlby, Bishop of Westminster before passing to the Wroth family. In 1622, it was in the ownership of William Pennifather, Sheriff of London. The manor house was possibly still standing in 1637 but had been demolished by 1718 at which time a house called Northolt Court stood near the church. Between 1804 and 1827, the Northolt estate was held by the Villiers family who sold it to Sir Lancelot Shadwell, last Vice Chancellor of England. The Shadwell family owned the estate until the early 20th century. In 1935, the moated manor site was acquired by the local authority for preservation as an open space, and in 1963 it formed part of Belvue Park.
The site was partially excavated between 1950 and 1974. The finds included three inhumation burials, a complete stratified sequence of pottery from the 7th century to the 18th century, some 14th century window glass, daub, tile, brick, nails, knives, horse-shoes, buckles, sickles and coins.