Ince Manor monastic grange and fishpond


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Ordnance survey map of Ince Manor monastic grange and fishpond
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Cheshire West and Chester (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SJ 44924 76547

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.

Ince Manor monastic grange is one of only two examples in Cheshire of standing manorial buildings belonging to an abbey, and is one of only five similarly surviving monuments in the north of England. The medieval buildings remain in a good state of preservation and there are only three other similar sites in the country displaying more complex structures. Monastery Cottages is one of the best preserved examples of manorial lodgings in England, while the Hall possesses the rare and unusual feature of an entrance defended against attack. The monument is known to have belonged to St Werburgh's Abbey during the early medieval period and evidence of pre-Conquest features will survive within, below and near the Hall and Monastery Cottages. Similarly, further evidence of other post-Conquest structures associated with the grange will also survive.


The monument is Ince Manor monastic grange and fishpond. The site is bounded by Kinsey's Lane to the south west, The Square to the south east, Marsh Lane to the north east, and a boundary bank to the north west. Within this area lies a courtyard of about 0.2 ha in extent that is flanked on two sides by the ruins of sandstone buildings of 13th/14th century or earlier origin, still standing to roof height. The building to the north east is the Hall, a single open structure measuring 15.8m by 6.4m, while that to the north west is Monastery Cottages, originally a range of lodgings with four separate chambers. Part of a stone-based wall survives along the south west boundary of the courtyard and a well, now blocked, exists in the courtyard's south west corner. Lying between the courtyard and Kinsey's Lane are Park Cottages, formerly a stable or barn associated with a farm adjoining and supporting the manor. The manor was enclosed by a boundary wall with stone copings and plinths that survives along Kinsey's Lane, Marsh Lane, and facing The Square. Surrounding the manor and its boundary wall is a rock-cut moat 6.4m wide and 2.7m deep that is partly infilled, and partly overlain by modern roads, but still survives to the east of the Hall and in the gardens of Park Cottages and Beytna. The moat's course is defined by a bank up to 1m high north west of Monastery Cottages. Midway across the field behind Monastery Cottages is a second, smaller boundary bank up to 0.5m high. North of Monastery Cottages, and some 25m beyond the line of the infilled moat, is a dry fishpond c.23m by 22m and 0.5m deep with a stone retaining wall on two sides. The Manor at Ince was one of the earliest recorded properties of St Werburgh's Abbey, Chester. The community of secular canons at Chester was disbanded at the Conquest in 1066, but was reinstated as a Benedictine Abbey in 1093. At that date the pre-Conquest manorial properties, including Ince, were guaranteed as part of the monastic estate. The Domesday Book in 1086 records the manor as possessing three hides, with arable land for five ploughs (about 121 ha), and about 1.8 ha of meadow. Edward I was entertained at the Manor in 1277. In 1399 the abbot and convent obtained a licence to crenellate the manor house which was confirmed in 1410. In 1439/40 most of the demesne lands at Ince were farmed or leased out to John Wilkinson and others. By 1538 Ince Manor had been let out to Richard Cowley. After the Dissolution both the manor and rectory of Ince were included in properties of St Werburgh's and they remained in church ownership until the death of Henry VIII in 1547, after which they passed to Sir Richard Cotton. Since then the manor has passed through the hands of various notable families. The Hall and Monastery Cottages are listed Grade I, the enclosing wall around the complex is listed Grade II. All buildings (other than the Hall and Monastery Cottages), property boundaries, driveways, paths and service pipes are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included. The stone- based wall along the south west of the courtyard, the well, the courtyard and the stone enclosing wall are all included within the scheduling.

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:
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Books and journals
Thompson, P, Ince Manor Medieval Monastic Buildings on the Mersey Marshes, (1982)
DOE, Buildings of Special Hist & Arch Interest,
DOE, Buildings of Special Hist & Arch Interest,
Fairclough, Mr. (site owner), To Robinson, K.D. MPPFW, (1991)
Title: Ordnance Survey 1st Edition 6" Map Source Date: 1872 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: Ordnance Survey Source Date: 1910 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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