The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a medieval moated site, moated enclosure and associated water management features.
Reasons for Designation
The moated site, moated enclosure and associated water management features at Weston Subedge are scheduled for the following principal reasons:
* Survival: they represent an important moated complex that is well-preserved, with clearly-defined and substantial earthworks;
* Diversity: there is a wide range of features which are important for a fuller understanding of the economic and domestic functions of the site;
* Potential: the undisturbed interiors of the moated island and the enclosure and the fills of the surrounding ditches and other water management features will retain structural and artefactual evidence that will add to our understanding of the date, form of construction and occupation of the monument;
* Documentation: the moated site was the centre of an important medieval manor whose
historical context is well-documented, with records that attest to the high status of its owners during the C13 and C14.
Around 6,000 moated sites are known in England. They consist of wide ditches, often water-filled or seasonally water-filled, partly or completely enclosing one or more islands of dry ground on which stood domestic or religious buildings. Most moated sites served as prestigious 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. They were constructed by all seignorial sectors of medieval society, both lay and ecclesiastical. Some were manor houses while others served as the messuages (a dwelling house together with its outbuildings, curtilage, and the adjacent land appropriated to its use) attached to freehold estates.
Westone, which by the late C13 had the suffix subtus-Egge (now Subedge or Sub-edge), was a substantial manor at the time of the Norman invasion. Twenty years later, the Domesday Book records that it was valued at £5 and the settlement had a population of 31 households. The manor was held by Ansfrid de Cormeilles who had acquired significant land holdings in Gloucestershire and Herefordshire after the Conquest and through his marriage to a niece of Walter de Lacy, a leading baron in the area. In the early C12 as a result of his marriage to Sibyl de Cormeilles Weston Subedge came into the possession of Hugh Giffard of Boyton, Wiltshire, a royal justice who was well-connected at court. The moated manor house was probably built during his tenure and may have replaced an earlier complex. After Hugh’s death in 1246 the family’s estates, including Weston Subedge, passed to his son Walter who was Archbishop of York and a prominent figure in national political and ecclesiastical affairs. He died in 1279 and his brother Godfrey Giffard (circa 1235-1301) inherited. Godfrey was a member of Henry III's household, and later Lord Chancellor of England and Bishop of Worcester, and he is attributed with the construction of the Church of St Lawrence (formerly also St John the Baptist and listed at Grade II*) adjacent to the moated manor house. Following Godfrey’s death the manor passed to his nephew and heir Sir John Giffard, holder of the barony of Brimsfield, Gloucestershire. He died in 1319 leaving a son, also John (1287-1322), who in 1321 joined the Earl of Lancaster’s rebellion against his cousin Edward II, and after the rebels’ defeat at the Battle of Boroughbridge, John was hanged at Gloucester in 1322. His estates, including Weston Subedge, were forfeited to the Crown, but were eventually restored to the family and they retained Weston Subedge until around 1608. It is understood that the moated manor house was demolished in about 1800. A new manor house (Grade II*) was subsequently built towards the northern end of the village in the late C17.
The moated site is not depicted on the Tithe Map of 1839, and the accompanying apportionment records the two fields in which it is located as Lower Church Orchard and Upper Church Orchard. At this time the site was owned by George Bennett and leased to a Thomas Berman. In 1861, after the surrounding fields had been inclosed, these two fields were owned by Francis Gay, but Thomas Berman continued to lease them. An archaeological watching brief during excavations to erect new electricity poles in 2002 recovered fragments of mid- to late-medieval pottery to the south-west of the moated site.
The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a moated site, moated enclosure with associated water management features. Weston Subedge is located on the lower slopes of the western escarpment at the edge of the Vale of Evesham, and the monument is situated at the southern end of the present village, immediately to the west of the late-C13/early-C14 parish church which post-dates it.
The main element of the monument is the moated site which measures approximately 92m square overall, the moat being up to 20m wide and 3m deep enclosing a roughly-square island which is slightly raised above the surrounding land. Although there is no visible evidence for the house that previously stood here, archaeological deposits associated with its occupation and use are considered to survive beneath the ground surface. The steep-sided moat is dry, but seasonally waterlogged, and beyond it is a broad outer bank approximately 10m wide. The eastern section of bank has been incorporated into the churchyard and has become less pronounced over time. The boundary wall to the churchyard has been built along its western edge. There is no clear evidence for a causeway across the moat and the island may have formerly been accessed by a bridge. To the north, separated from it by the northern moat ditch and corresponding section of outer bank, is a triangular-shaped moated enclosure. It may be an ancillary enclosure connected with the agricultural and economic functions of the manor house, or possibly the remains of an associated medieval garden. It is bounded by a broad, shallow ditch to the west, north and east, with a slight outer bank on the north and north-west side. At the south-west corner the ditch narrows to join an L-shaped group of inter-connecting ponds which are seasonally waterlogged. The flow of water between these features would have been controlled by sluices, the buried remains of which may still be preserved. The ponds appear to overlie a rectangular enclosure which measures 66m west-east and 46m north-south. To the south-east of the moated site is a linear pond, orientated west-east. It is rounded at its west end but there is no clear edge at its opposite end, and on the north side is a counterscarp bank. It is crossed by a footpath which is marked on a post-enclosure map of 1840. To the west of the pond are several slight linear earthworks running north-south, and to the east, alongside the road, are further earthworks which are indistinct. It is probable that the stream immediately to the west of the site originally fed the complex of moats and ponds through a series of connecting channels, and a dry shallow channel, most likely a leat, is visible at the south-west corner of the site.
No archaeological excavations have taken place at the site, but fragments of medieval and post-medieval pottery were discovered in 2002 during a watching brief for the installation of electricity poles in the southern part of the site.
Walter Giffard (c.1225-1279); Oxford Dictionary of National Biographers, (23 September 2004)
Godfrey Giffard (1235?-1302); Oxford Dictionary of National Biographers, (23 September 2004)
Thomas Dudley Fosbrooke, , Abstracts of Records and Manuscripts Respecting the County of Gloucester Formed into a History by Thomas Dudley Fosbrooke, Volume II, (1807)
A scheduled moated site is located to the west of St John the Baptist Church, Weston Subedge, Monument Number 372, Gloucestershire County Council Historic Environment Record, accessed 17 Jun 2022 from Heritage Gateway - Results
Know Your Place - Gloucestershire, accessed 17 Jun 2022 from https://maps.bristol.gov.uk/kyp/?edition=glos
The North Cotswolds: A Highlight Report for the National Mapping Programme, Research Report Series no.17-2012, accessed 10 Aug 2022 from https://historicengland.org.uk/research/results/reports/17-2012
Wright N, 2002, An Archaeological Watching Brief at Weston Subedge Moated Site, Gloucestershire. Archaeology Section, Gloucestershire County Council
The electricity and telegraph poles, fence posts, gates and the boundary wall to the churchyard are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath these features is, however, included.
EXTENT OF SCHEDULING
The area of protection includes the earthworks and buried remains of the moated site, the north moated enclosure and related water management system and fishponds. A 2m margin of protection for the support and protection of the monument is included on the north and north-east sides except where the churchyard encroaches onto the eastern outer bank of the moated site. Here, the monument boundary follows the churchyard wall. To the west and south-west, it follows the course of the stream and a field boundary respectively in order to include the archaeological remains visible in these areas. In the south-east part of the site, the monument boundary has been drawn to include the fishpond adjacent to the moated site together with a 2m margin for its support and protection. The area therefore has maximum dimensions of approximately 250m north to south and 155m west to east.