Remains of a preceptory, fishponds and post-medieval gardens at Eagle Hall


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

North Kesteven (District Authority)
Eagle and Swinethorpe
National Grid Reference:
SK 86484 65676

Reasons for Designation

A preceptory is a monastery of the military orders of Knights Templars and Knights Hospitallers (also known as the Knights of St John of Jerusalem). At least one preceptory of the Knights of St Lazarus is also known to have existed in England. Preceptories were founded to raise revenues to fund the 12th and 13th century crusades to Jerusalem. In the 15th century the Hospitallers directed their revenue toward defending Rhodes from the Turks. In addition, the preceptories of the Templars functioned as recruiting and training barracks for the knights whilst those of the Hospitallers provided hospices which offered hospitality to pilgrims and travellers and distributed alms to the poor. Lazarine preceptories had leper hospitals attached. Like other monastic sites, the buildings of preceptories included provision for worship and communal living. Their most unusual feature was the round nave of their major churches which was copied from that of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Indeed their use of such circular churches was unique in medieval England. Other buildings might include hospital buildings, workshops or agricultural buildings. These were normally arranged around a central open space, and were often enclosed within a moat or bank and ditch. From available documentary sources it can be estimated that the Templars held 57 preceptories in England. At least 14 of these were later taken over by the Hospitallers, who held 76 sites. As a relatively rare monument class, all sites exhibiting good survival of archaeological remains will be identified as nationally important.

The remains of the preceptory at Eagle Hall survive well as a series of substantial earthworks extending over most of the area of the original precinct. The remains of the preceptory buildings survive beneath later structures which overlie rather than cut into earlier deposits. The monument also preserves the remains of a post-Dissolution formal garden. The site has been undisturbed by modern development and agricultural activity and has never been excavated, indicating that valuable archaeological remains relating to both the medieval preceptory and post-medieval garden, and the relationship between them, survive intact.


The monument includes the remains of a preceptory of the Knights Templars founded at Eagle in the mid-12th century. The preceptory served as an infirmary for sick and aged members of the order. In 1312, following the suppression of the Templars, it became a commandery of the Knights Hospitallers. In the 14th and 15th centuries the administration of the estate was linked to that of other Lincolnshire preceptories at Temple Bruer and Willoughton. In 1338 there was a population of 16, including a Knight Preceptor; by the time of the Dissolution in 1540 the estate was run by a steward. In the post-medieval period the site was occupied by a house and gardens with associated farmbuildings. The remains of the preceptory include the earthworks of part of the inner precinct and associated fishponds. The remains of the medieval period are overlain by those of post-medieval date, including ornamental ponds and other garden features. The monument takes the form of a series of earthworks and buried building remains located at Eagle Hall Farm, approximately one mile to the south west of the village of Eagle. Near the centre of the monument is a raised area, now partly occupied by Eagle Hall and a complex of associated farmbuildings. Eagle Hall is principally of 18th century date, as is at least one of the farmbuildings, and although all of these buildings are excluded from the scheduling the ground below the Hall and the farmbuildings in the western part of the complex is included. Approximately 30m to the south of the Hall, on the south east side of the present garden boundary, are the earth-covered remains of a rectangular stone building, standing to a height of approximately 1m above the surrounding land. Stone and tile fragments are visible. Adjacent to the east, in the area of the present drive and flanking fences, is an area where human burials have been discovered. Further building remains have been identified in the paddock to the east of the Hall. This area, at and around the Hall, is considered to be the site of the main buildings of the preceptory, including the church and its associated cemetery and domestic buildings. The present elevation of the area, at approximately 2m above the surrounding land, is considered to be largely artificial and due to the accumulation of medieval and post-medieval building remains. Surrounding the central area of building remains is a large, roughly rectangular area aligned north west-south east, bounded on three sides by the remains of a moat and on the fourth by the course of the present road. This is considered to be the area of the preceptory precinct. On the south east side the moat takes the form of a linear depression, approximately 8m wide and up to 1m deep, bounded on each side by a substantial linear bank up to 1.5m high and 5m wide. On the longest, south western side it is approximately 6m wide and 1.5m deep, with internal and external banks about 0.5m wide. On both the south east and south west sides the surviving earthworks largely represent the recutting of the medieval moat in post-medieval times as a feature of the formal gardens surrounding the early 18th century Hall. The north west arm of the moat, which has not been recut, is narrower in width (4m-5m); the northern half has been partially levelled in post-medieval times and survives as a shallower feature, its northern end identified by a depression in the roadside hedge. Within the area of the precinct are traces of the agricultural and other activites associated with the occupation of the site as a preceptory. In the eastern corner of the precinct are the earthworks of an enclosure containing traces of ridge and furrow cultivation; adjacent to the south west, and separated from it by a linear bank, is another, low lying enclosure. In the western corner of the precinct are the remains of three rectangular ponds representing a complex of medieval fishponds. In part of the precinct the medieval remains are overlain by traces of post-medieval activity on the site including, in the south east part of the precinct, a drive leading to the Hall. On the south side of the drive is a pair of ornamental ponds with a metalled way between, representing part of the post-medieval gardens associated with the Hall. In the northern part of the precinct is a low mound representing the levelled remains of post-medieval buildings. Outside the area of the preceptory's precinct are further remains associated with both the medieval and post-medieval use of the site. Near the southern corner of the precinct, the former drive crosses the causeway flanked on each side by a narrow channel. These channels continue south eastward along the drive which runs as a raised track, and on each side is a linear bank terminating in a return approximately 40m from the edge of the moat. These features are considered to be post-medieval in date and are linked to a series of water-control features in the southern part of the monument. These include, adjacent to the southern corner of the precinct, an irregular pond complex believed to have originated as medieval fishponds associated with the preceptory and later recut for drainage and stock-watering purposes. Other water-control features in this area include a large pond, formed of a sequence of superimposed cuttings, with a dam on the east. These are considered to be largely post-medieval. Outside the precinct to the south west is a large rectangular pond, approximately 60m x 20m, with a broad bank on each side approximately 10m in width. On the north western side the bank is flanked by a narrow modern drainage channel which follows the course of a cobbled path. On the other side the bank is linked to the precinct area by a causeway across the moat. These features are considered to form part of the post-medieval garden at Eagle Hall, the pond being an ornamental feature and its banks serving as raised terraces linked to walkways and other parts of a formal garden. Excluded from the scheduling are Eagle Hall Farm and the barn to the north of it (both of which are Listed Grade II), all other standing buildings, walls and fences at Eagle Hall Farm, and the modern paving in the farmyard area, although the ground beneath all these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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Books and journals
Knowles, D , Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales, (1971), 293-357
Knowles, D , Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales, (1971), 293-357
Mills, D, The Knights Templar in Kesteven, (1993)
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Lincolnshire: Volume II, (1906), 211
'Order of St. John - Lincolnshire Magazine' in The Heritage of the Order in Lincolnshire: Part II, (), 13-19
Chennells, Gordon, (1992)
landowner, Chennells, Gordon, (1990)
Lincolnshire Archives Office 2/25, Inventory of all the goods and chattells of John Bell of Eagle H, (1681)
Mills, Dennis, Eagle Hall 1990, (1990)
NAR, SK 86 NE 1,


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

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