Monastic grange, 40m south west of Musden Grange Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Date first listed:
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Ordnance survey map of Monastic grange, 40m south west of Musden Grange Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Staffordshire Moorlands (District Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
SK 12343 51237

Reasons for Designation

A monastic grange was a farm owned and run by a monastic community and independent of the secular manorial system of communal agriculture and servile labour. The function of granges was to provide food and raw materials for consumption within the parent monastic house itself, and also to provide surpluses for sale for profit. The first monastic granges appeared in the 12th century but they continued to be constructed and used until the Dissolution. This system of agriculture was pioneered by the Cistercian order but was soon imitated by other orders. Some granges were worked by resident lay-brothers (secular workers) of the order but others were staffed by non-resident labourers. The majority of granges practised a mixed economy but some were specialist in their function. Five types of grange are known: agrarian farms, bercaries (sheep farms), vaccaries (cattle ranches), horse studs and industrial complexes. A monastery might have more than one grange and the wealthiest houses had many. Frequently a grange was established on lands immediately adjacent to the monastery, this being known as the home grange. Other granges, however, could be found wherever the monastic site held lands. On occasion these could be located at some considerable distance from the parent monastery. Granges are broadly comparable with contemporary secular farms although the wealth of the parent house was frequently reflected in the size of the grange and the layout and architectural embellishment of the buildings. Additionally, because of their monastic connection, granges tend to be much better documented than their secular counterparts. No region was without monastic granges. The exact number of sites which originally existed is not precisely known but can be estimated, on the basis of numbers of monastic sites, at several thousand. Of these, however, only a small percentage can be accurately located on the ground today. Of this group of identifiable sites, continued intensive use of many has destroyed much of the evidence of archaeological remains. In view of the importance of granges to medieval rural and monastic life, all sites exhibiting good archaeological survival are identified as nationally important.

The remains of the monastic grange west of Musden Grange Farm are undisturbed and survive well. The earthworks are in good condition and will provide archaeological evidence for the grange buildings and other features. The site will also retain deposits which will cast valuable light on the economy and environment of the site during the medieval period and early post-medieval period. The importance of the site is further enhanced by detailed written documentation.


The monument is situated 40m west of the farmhouse called Musden Grange within the Manifold Valley and includes the earthwork remains of a Cistercian grange. The site is cut into a north-facing slope and can be divided into two parts; the north west part which forms the core of the site and includes levelled terraces, a platform and the earthwork remains of a hollow way, and the south east part of the site which is defined by a series of boundary banks. The monastic grange at Musden was given to the Cistercian abbey of Croxden in 1176 by Bertrand of Verdun as part of its foundation endowment. In the north west part of the site is a platform which projects out from the hillside. The platform has a levelled surface and measures approximately 37m south west-north east and 17m north west-south east. It is thought to have been the site of the great barn, known to have been damaged by a storm in 1372. To the north east, and downslope of this platform, are the remains of two terraces. The lower of the two terraces is well-defined and there is a break in its north east side which is thought to be an original feature. Slight earthworks are visible on the surfaces of these terraces, indicating the position of buried features. A survey of the site in 1985 suggested that these features are medieval in origin. Documentary records indicate that the monks' living quarters were situated in this north west part of the site and that one building collapsed in 1368. There was a chapel at the grange in 1398, but there is no reference to a cemetery at the site. The north west part of the site is bounded at its north west corner by a slight bank, along its northern side by a farm track and by the earthwork remains of a hollow way on its western side. The hollow way is defined by slight outer banks and it turns westwards at the north west corner of the site. The hollow way is in use as a farm track, but it is thought to be the remains of the original approach to the monastic grange. The same hollow way, approximately 300m to the west of the site is known as Abbot's Gate. In the south east part of the site a number of enclosure banks are visible, of which several are considered to be medieval. Intermittent traces of a bank which runs north west-south east forms part of the south west boundary of the site and a bank to the east, aligned north east-south west, defines what is thought to be the south east boundary to the site. Two further banks are visible within the area defined by these main enclosure banks but these features do not survive as well and appear to represent independent features. The stone walls of the two modern paddocks situated in the central area of the site are thought to partly overlie the remains of internal enclosure banks within the grange site. The site became an important grange of Croxden Abbey and was considered so vital to the economy of the abbey that in 1533 the abbot refused to lease the grange to Francis Meverell, despite strong pressure from Thomas Cromwell, the king's chief minister. In 1535, however, the abbot negotiated a lease of the grange to George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, but the site was granted away to Richard Cotton in 1545. The stone walling of the modern field boundaries and the telegraph poles on the site are excluded from the scheduling, but the ground beneath these features, however, 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.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Lynam, C, The Victoria History of the County of Staffordshire, (1908), 226
Platt, C, The Monastic Grange in Medieval England, (1969), 222
Cleverdon, F, 'West Midlands Archaeology' in Musden Grange, , Vol. 29, (1986), 35
Hibbert, F A, 'Transactions of the North Staffordshire Field Club' in Croxden Abbey and Musden Grange, , Vol. 52, (1917), 43
Title: SK15SW Source Date: 1975 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:


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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