Site of Langley Palace royal hunting lodge, an associated enclosure and later garden earthworks at Langley Farm
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- West Oxfordshire (District Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- SP 29520 15544
Reasons for Designation
Deer parks were areas of land, usually enclosed, set aside and equipped for
the management and hunting of deer and other animals. They were generally
located in open countryside on marginal land or adjacent to a manor house,
castle or palace. They varied in size between 3ha and 1600ha and usually
comprised a combination of woodland and grassland which provided a mixture of
cover and grazing for deer. Parks could contain a number of features,
including hunting lodges (often moated), a park-keeper's house, rabbit
warrens, fishponds and enclosures for game, and were usually surrounded by a
park pale, a massive fenced or hedged bank often with an internal ditch.
Although a small number of parks may have been established in the Anglo-Saxon
period, it was the Norman aristocracy's taste for hunting that led to the
majority being constructed. The peak period for the laying-out of parks,
between AD 1200 and 1350, coincided with a time of considerable prosperity
amongst the nobility. From the 15th century onwards few parks were constructed
and by the end of the 17th century the deer park in its original form had
largely disappeared. The original number of deer parks nationally is unknown
but probably exceeded 3000. Many of these survive today, although often
altered to a greater or lesser degree. They were established in virtually
every county in England, but are most numerous in the West Midlands and Home
Counties. Deer parks were a long-lived and widespread monument type. Today
they serve to illustrate an important aspect of the activities of medieval
nobility and still exert a powerful influence on the pattern of the modern
landscape. Where a deer park survives well and is well-documented or
associated with other significant remains, its principal features are normally
identified as nationally important.
The royal hunting lodge at Langley forms a central component in the deer park of the ancient Wychwood Forest. It occupies the site of an earlier manor and well documented medieval village, the remains of which survive buried beneath later earthworks and structures. The hunting lodge has a documented connection with Henry VII and the activities of the English court over a period of nearly 200 years. Its location here directly affected the siting nearby of several manors, occupied by members of the court who wanted to live close-by when the king was in residence. The motte castle at Leafield is probably related to the defence of the royal court and its estate. Together, the hunting lodge, the motte at Leafield Barrow and associated manorial settlements, constitute an unusual group of related monuments representing social and political aspects of a medieval royal court.
The monument at Langley Farm includes the site of Langley Palace royal hunting
lodge, partly enclosed by a bank to the west and north and, originally, to the
east, a surrounding and probably earlier oval enclosure defined by a bank and
ditch, part of an associated avenue and the earthwork remains of formal
gardens. It also includes the buried remains of a manor and part of a medieval
settlement which were recorded at the site but which were deserted and built
over when the hunting lodge was constructed. The site lies south west of
Leafield Barrow motte and immediately south of the Marconi signal station.
The royal hunting lodge survives in part as a building incorporated into the
fabric of the present Grade II* Listed farmhouse; the two-storey bay window of
the original hall, for instance, is still visible. The site of the lodge is
further defined by a bank to the west and north, and originally to the east,
delimiting an area some 35m wide and 75m long. This earthwork is thought to
date to a major phase of rebuilding. It provided a raised walkway, up to 12m
across and possibly accessible via a bridge from the first floor of the lodge,
from which the surrounding formal gardens could have been viewed.
Outside the bank to the north and west are the earthwork remains of formal
gardens, surviving as a series of low banks and depressions up to 5m wide and
0.5m high. Those to the west are arranged along an avenue which is shown as
the main access to the site on a map of 1855. This avenue continues as a
slight earthwork for c.90m beyond the gardens remains.
The core of the site is included within an oval enclosure originally defined
by a bank and ditch. To the south, the line of the earthworks is buried
beneath the modern road line. Elsewhere the bank can be traced in places up to
1m high and 3m wide and the ditch, largely infilled but surviving as a buried
feature, as shallow depressions up to a 0.2m deep and 3m wide. This oval
enclosure, measuring c.200m east-west by c.140m north-south, may have
originally defended the lodge but could also date back to the earlier manor
which existed on the site.
From documentary records it is known that the early manor and associated
village were deserted some time after 1450. In 1478 the manor passed into
crown ownership and Henry VII had a royal hunting lodge built on the site. His
initials can be seen carved on the soffit of the bay window in the present
farmhouse, along with a Tudor rose. Further sculptured masonry from the site
can be seen incorporated in the later cottages c.500m to the south east.
The site continued to be used by the court until 1614 and remains in crown
The present farmhouse was rebuilt in 1858, incorporating many elements of the
earlier structures which it replaced.
Excluded from the scheduling are the present farm buildings, including the
Grade II* Listed farmhouse, the farmyard surface, the road surface, the post
and wire boundary fences, the garden walls and the disused reservoir north of
the farmhouse, although the ground beneath all of the above features is
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.
- Legacy System number:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Beresford, M, Lost Villages of England, (1954), p381
On site regarding finds by workers, JEFFERY, P.P., Discussion with Mr Greves (occupier), (1993)
On site regarding interpretation of., JEFFERY, P.P., Discussion with Mr Greves (occupier), (1993)
PRN 11,217, C.A.O., Langley Palace, (1975)
PRN 11,217, C.A.O., Royal Hunting Lodge, (1975)
PRN 3312, C.A.O., Deserted Medieval Village, (1975)
PRN 3312, C.A.O., Deserted Medieval Village, Moat, (1975)
SP 21 NE 15, Ordnance Survey, Earthworks 15/ 16c, (1977)
SP 21 NE 15, Ordnance Survey, Hunting Lodge (site), (1977)
Title: Oxford and surrounding area Source Date: 1985 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: 1:50000 Landranger series sheet 164
Title: Oxford and surrounding area Source Date: 1985 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Landranger Series sheet 164
With Agent at Carter Jonas, Oxford, JEFFERY, P.P., Discussion on telephone, (1993)
With Mr Greves re: site and history, JEFFERY, P.P., Discussion on site, (1993)
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