Medieval manor house in Netherne Wood, 70m west of Alstead Manor Farm.
Reasons for Designation
Alsted was a sub-manor of Mertsham in the 13th century or possibly earlier and is recorded in documentary sources from about 1211 onwards. Manorial centres were important foci of medieval rural life. They served as prestigious aristocratic or seigniorial residences, the importance of their inhabitants being reflected in the quality and elaboration of their buildings. Local agricultural and village life was normally closely regulated by the Lord of the manor, and hence the inhabitants of these sites had a controlling interest in many aspects of medieval life.
Manorial sites could take on many forms. In many areas of the country the buildings were located within a moat, the latter being intended to further impress the status of the site on the wider population. Other manors were not moated their status being indicated largely by the quality of their buildings. This latter group of manorial centres are the most difficult to identify today because the sites were not enclosed by major earthwork features, such as a moat, which may survive well, and the original buildings often exhibited a fairly unplanned layout which could extend over a large area. Continued use of the site has also in many instances led to destruction of medieval remains. Hence examples of medieval manorial centres of this type which can be positively identified and demonstrated to have extensive surviving archaeological remains are relatively rare.
The medieval manor house in Netherne wood has been shown by partial excavation to contain archaeological remains relating to the history and use of the site. It is a well-preserved site that includes a rare, almost complete, ground-plan of a 13th-14th century sub-manor recorded in documentary sources. As such it is of considerable significance to our understanding of the medieval landscape.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 11 December 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 a medieval manor house, identified as the sub-manor of Alsted recorded in documentary sources, surviving as buried remains. It is situated in woodland on a spur of the North Downs with views over the surrounding area to the north, west and south.
The below-ground remains include the chalk foundations, sandstone and flint walls, and timber remains of several buildings. The site was partially excavated between 1968 and 1973 and has since been re-buried. The excavations revealed several phases of medieval occupation. The earliest involved the construction of a 13th century building. The finds associated with this building included an imported French jug, an aquamanile and part of a trebuchet type coin balance. This building was demolished in around 1270 and replaced by a timber-framed aisled hall, solar and kitchen. A new kitchen was later added to the north of the main block. The almost complete ground-plan of these buildings was identified during the excavations. Finds associated with the later use of the site included roof tiles, a roof ventilator finial, fragments of decorated jugs, stone mortars, two silver pennies of Edward I (1272-1307) and a range of iron and copper implements.
Documentary sources record that Alsted, or Alderstead as it is also known, was a sub-manor of Merstham in the 13th century. The Manor of Merstham was held by the Prior of Canterbury. The sub-manor belonged to the De Passele family in the 13th and 14th centuries. The events recorded in the family history have been shown to correspond well with the building periods revealed by excavation on the site at Netherne Wood.
There are other archaeological remains in the vicinity but these are not scheduled as they have not been formally accessed. Nearby to the site of the manor house, on the south side of Netherne Lane, are the buried remains of a contemporary medieval iron smelting and forging site, which are likely to be associated with the manor house.