This browser is not fully supported by Historic England. Please update your browser to the latest version so that you get the best from our website.

Preceptory, boundary, two mounds, fishpond and dam at Beaumont Leys

List Entry Summary

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 Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Preceptory, boundary, two mounds, fishpond and dam at Beaumont Leys

List entry Number: 1009196

Location

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County:

District: City of Leicester

District Type: Unitary Authority

Parish:

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 10-Apr-1980

Date of most recent amendment: 03-Feb-1993

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 17095

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

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

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 preceptory site at Beaumont Leys survives well and has good documentary evidence. The associated fishpond has one of the finest examples of a medieval dam in Leicestershire.

History

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

Details

The monument at Beaumont Leys is situated on a small plateau known as Castle Hill which falls away steeply on the north, west and south sides. The site includes a ditched and banked enclosure containing two small mounds, a linear boundary bank and ditch to the east and a large fishpond with a dam lying to the north.

The preceptory is situated within a sub-rectangular enclosure measuring 200 x 150m in overall dimensions. The enclosure is formed by a bank measuring up to 1.5m high and an outer ditch measuring about 0.5m deep. An irregular surface exists internally containing two mounds each about 1m high and 12m in diameter. Comparison with an excavated Templar house at South Witham in Lincolnshire indicates that below ground features of the preceptory buildings exist around the perimeter of the enclosure, originally producing a courtyard in the centre. To the east and parallel to the enclosure is a further bank and ditch running north-south. The boundary runs for a distance of almost 300m, with the bank being about 0.5m high and the ditch 0.5m deep, and formed part of a former boundary to control stock movement. A stream situated to the west of the preceptory enclosure was dammed to the north to form a large fishpond. The dam measures over 100m long and up to 3m high and 8m wide. A division of the dam in the centre marks the site of a former sluice gate. The present stream runs to the west of the fishpond but the original channel to the fishpond can be seen as a discolouration in the vegetation south of the pond. The resulting fishpond, now a marshy area, measures 100 x 75m and contains a small island used for breeding water-fowl in the medieval period.

In 1252 Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, gave the land immediately to the south-east of Beaumont Leys to Leicester Abbey and at the same time gave Beaumont Leys itself to the religious order known as the Knights Templars. That order later fell foul of the Pope and the lands were seized by the King in 1308. In due course Beaumont Leys and most of the Templars land was granted to the Knights Hospitallers in whose hands it remained until 1482 when the Hospitallers exchanged it with Edward IV for the Rectory of Boston. The land is described as being surrounded by a pale and as the area is later described as a park this may well explain why the king, noted for his love of hunting, wished to acquire it.

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

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Liddle, P, A Guide to 20 Archaeological Sites in Leicestershire, (1983), 22-3

National Grid Reference: SK 56508 09265

Map

Map
© Crown Copyright and database right 2017. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2017. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1009196 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 23-Nov-2017 at 05:53:42.

End of official listing