Monastic grange, 40m south west of Musden Grange 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.
- Staffordshire Moorlands (District Authority)
- National Park:
- PEAK DISTRICT
- 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