A moated site and associated garden earthworks 460m south east of Boys Hall


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1009006

Date first listed: 11-Mar-1953

Date of most recent amendment: 21-Nov-1994


Ordnance survey map of A moated site and associated garden earthworks 460m south east of Boys Hall
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Kent

District: Ashford (District Authority)

Parish: Sevington

National Grid Reference: TR 02954 40766


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Around 6,000 moated sites are known in England. They consist of wide ditches, often or seasonally water-filled, partly or completely enclosing one or more islands of dry ground on which stood domestic or religious buildings. In some cases the islands were used for horticulture. The majority of moated sites served as prestigious aristocratic and seigneurial residences with the provision of a moat intended as a status symbol rather than a practical military defence. The peak period during which moated sites were built was between about 1250 and 1350 and by far the greatest concentration lies in central and eastern parts of England. However, moated sites were built throughout the medieval period, are widely scattered throughout England and exhibit a high level of diversity in their forms and sizes. They form a significant class of medieval monument and are important for the understanding of the distribution of wealth and status in the countryside. Many examples provide conditions favourable to the survival of organic remains.

The moated site and garden earthworks 460m south east of Boys Hall survive well, despite some damage caused by the construction of the adjacent railway line, recent levelling works next to the railway and peripheral excavations in advance of the planned development of the surrounding land. The waterlogged moat and garden ponds provide ideal conditions for the survival of organic remains and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed.

Gardens have been a feature of higher status residences since at least Roman times. In the medieval period, most gardens were relatively small and formal, whilst later gardens were designed to be grand in scale and Romantic or picturesque in form. Recurring themes are terraces, ponds, canals and viewing points, and in the design of these there was a continuous interplay between social aspirations, artistic aims and changing fashions. The earthwork remains of such gardens are of importance as archaeological features, illustrating the importance of recreational and ornamental surroundings to people of high social status.

The garden earthworks surrounding the moat near Boys Hall are a good example of the carefully planned elaboration of the grounds of an earlier manorial residence. In addition, they are of the less common `water garden' type and survive unaltered by later landscaping.

Excavations of the area surrounding the monument have shown that the valley was farmed during the Iron Age and Romano-British periods (700BC-AD450), and the remains of several farmsteads dating from this time were discovered nearby. The Iron Age remains which underlie the medieval moated site are a well-preserved example of this phase and illustrate the longevity and diversity of human activity in the landscape over time.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes a rectangular medieval moated site and associated garden earthworks situated on low lying ground on the northern side of the broad valley of the River East Stour.

The moated site is a NNW-SSE orientated island of 1.6ha surrounded by a water-filled moat between 6m and 15m wide. On the outer side of the north western and south eastern arms of the moat are earthworks indicating the original causeways, which provided access onto the island. Although no upstanding buildings survive, fragments of roof and floor tiles, building mortar and medieval pottery sherds, indicating the former presence of a known manorial residence, were found on the island during a recent archaeological survey of the site. Traces of the buildings can be expected to survive as buried features beneath the present ground surface.

Surrounding the moat are the remains of an elaborate formal garden believed to have been laid out in the late 16th or early 17th centuries, some time after the original construction of the moat, but before the abandonment of the site as a residence by the 1630's. These garden earthworks include raised terraced walkways, courts and complex arrangements of linear ponds and other water features designed to enhance the setting of the manor house. These features survive as earthworks up to 1.5m high.

The moated residence was the main home of the Barry family from the 13th century until 1588. The Barrys were a leading Kent family, successive members of whom are known to have held important public office in the county during this time. In the 1620's, Thomas Boys demolished the medieval house, using the materials to rebuild his main residence, Boys Hall, at nearby Willesborough. During the excavation of land immediately adjacent to the north eastern boundary of the monument in June 1993, linear ditches containing large quantites of pottery sherds, animal bone and fragments of a quernstone dating to the Late Iron Age (c.100BC-43AD) were discovered. The ditches were observed to extend into the monument and indicate the remains of an earlier Iron Age farm or settlement underlying the later manorial residence and gardens.

The fencing which defines the monument is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it 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: 24401

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Philp, B, 'Archaeologia Cantiana' in Excavations on the Orbital Park Site - Ashford, (1991), 74-77
Philp, B, 'Archaeologia Cantiana' in Excavations on the Orbital Park Site - Ashford, (1991), 74-77
OAU, Boys Hall Moat, Archaeological Excavation, Interim Report, (1993)
OAU, Boys Hall Moat, Archaeological Excavation, Interim Report, (1993)
RCHME, Survey of Medieval Moated Site at Sevington, (1990)
RCHME, Survey of Medieval Moated Site at Sevington, (1990)
RCHME, Survey of moated site at Boys Hall, (1990)
RCHME, Survey of moated site at Boys Hall, (1990)

End of official listing