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Remains of a moated monastic retreat house, manorial courthouse and inn

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 Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Remains of a moated monastic retreat house, manorial courthouse and inn

List entry Number: 1009844


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

County: Northamptonshire

District: Daventry

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Badby

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 06-Dec-1994

Date of most recent amendment: Not applicable to this List entry.

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 17152

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

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 at Badby has been identified as the remains of a monastic retreat house, later converted to secular use. Retreat houses were principally used for the regular periods of rest and recuperation which were required under Archbishop Lanfranc's codification of the Benedictine Rule, a prominent feature of which was blood-letting (seyneys) which was thought to be beneficial to health. Apart from providing purpose-built accommodation for seyneys, retreat houses were also used by senior monastic officials as places where the monastic rules concerning diet, heating and conversation were relaxed. As a result, they have features in common with both monastic infirmaries, which were also used for seyneys, and secular manor houses of the period, although retreat houses also required a chapel large enough to allow the continued observance of the offices by those in residence. Confined to the Benedictine order, only some 80 to 100 retreat houses are thought to have existed, less than half of which are currently recorded as surviving archaeological sites.

Badby is one of only two sites confirmed as retreat houses to have seen significant archaeological excavation. That part of the building complex which occupied the central part of the moated platform is reasonably well-understood and the building foundations remain visible, allowing an appreciation of the basic plan. The surrounding earthworks survive well and, along with the buried remains in the ploughed areas of the monument, will contain important additional information concerning this rare category of site, and of the site's later secular use. Further information is provided by the survival of a number of monastic documents which give information about its buildings and their uses.


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


The monument includes the remains of a medieval moated site located on the north eastern side of the village of Badby. The manor of Badby was acquired before the 12th century by the Benedictine abbots of Evesham, Worcestershire, and retained by them until the dissolution of the abbey. During this period the manor was principally divided into small holdings and let out. In the early 13th century Abbot Roger Norreys constructed a moated retreat house at Badby which also served as an administrative centre for the manor. From 1538, when the manor was granted to Sir Edmund Knightley, the house continued in use for nearly a century as a domestic dwelling and manorial court, becoming known as the Court House. In 1634 the estate was divided and the manorial court moved away; the house was reused as an inn but fell into decline and by the late 18th century was no longer standing. The monument includes the remains of the moated enclosure together with those of the buildings and associated features which stood both within and to the south east of it. The remains of the medieval period are partly overlain by those of post-medieval date.

The remains of the moated site are located at the bottom of a north facing slope near the south bank of the River Nene, in a field traditionally known as Court Yard. Near the centre of the field is a small copse in which are located the partially exposed remains of stone buildings which were fully excavated in 1967-69. They include the foundations of a rectangular stone hall aligned approximately east-west and measuring about 24.5m x 14m with a central stone fireplace. Finds made during excavation indicate that it was originally roofed with Cotswold stone. Adjacent to each of the north west and south east sides of the hall are the remains of a small rectangular chamber of slightly later date; that on the south east measured 7m x 6m and has been interpreted as a chapel. To the north are further building remains which are on a different alignment from the hall but contemporary with it; they are considered to represent associated domestic outbuildings. These features have been identified with the `noble, almost regal houses', known from documentary sources, which were built in the early 13th century by Abbot Roger Norreys (1189-1213). These buildings were used as a retreat house for the abbot as well as an office for the administration of the manor, including the holding of manorial courts.

Overlying the remains of the 13th century are those of the 14th century, when considerable alterations and extensions were made to the complex. The hall was reduced in size to 20m x 11m and opposing entrances were placed near the middle of the north and south walls; the hearth was also moved to the east wall where an oven was added, and the whole was re-roofed with ceramic tile. Also at this time the chapel was enlarged to 10m x 7m, and a new wing, interpreted as a stable block, was added to the north eastern corner of the hall, thus joining it to the earlier outbuildings. Further additions included a bakehouse range, the remains of which adjoin the north western corner of the hall but are built on a similar alignment to the earlier outbuildings. It includes the remains of a pair of ovens, a garderobe and two rooms which may represent brewhouses. The construction of two new bakehouses at Badby was recorded in the year 1345, during the abbacy of William de Boys (1345-1367), and the renovation of the hall and chapel in 1379, in the time of Roger Zatton (1379-1418).

Most of the 13th and 14th century building remains are in turn overlain by those of the 15th-16th centuries when the complex was largely rebuilt. While the chapel, the east wall of the hall and part of the wing to the north east were retained in their former positions, the remaining structures were rebuilt on a single alignment around a courtyard. The foundations of a stone staircase indicate that the rooms of the south range, which overlay the former hall, had an upper storey; the kitchen was rebuilt with two new ovens and a well, and there was a new wing running from the south western corner of the complex which included a double garderobe. In the south eastern corner of the central room of the south range, a series of stone steps led to a cobbled road running south eastwards from the complex; another track led from the south western corner of the room. This phase of rebuilding is believed to have been carried out after 1451, when the manor was leased out to Henry Spencer. The buildings were found to have continued in use through the 16th and 17th centuries. Earthen mounds adjacent to the excavated buildings represent spoil heaps remaining from the excavations.

The copse, and the remains which lie within it, occupy the south eastern part of a moated platform which was first raised in the early 13th century prior to the erection of the buildings. Surrounding the copse is a series of low earthworks and buried deposits which represent the remainder of the platform and the moat which enclosed it. Outside the western edge of the copse, but included within the area of the moated platform, are the buried remains of a small building about 6.7m square. The stone foundations of this structure, which was still standing in the late 18th century, were revealed by parchmarks in 1991. Further buried building foundations on the moated platform have been revealed by parchmarks adjacent to the north side of the copse; these represent the remaining (unexcavated) parts of the medieval and post-medieval complex which was excavated immediately to the south, including the northern parts of the 13th and 14th century domestic buildings and 15th century courtyard. Surrounding the platform on the north, east and south are the remains of the moat ditch which was first constructed in the 13th century to enclose an area of approximately 0.5ha, the western side of the enclosure being defined by a north-running stream. The northern arm of the original moat was later filled in in order to increase the area of the platform, and a new moat dug roughly parallel to the north of it. In the 15th-16th centuries the moat was cleaned and a revetting wall added to the outer bank of the southern arm. Both the northern and eastern arms were still water-filled in the late 18th century. On the western edge of the moated enclosure, along the east bank of the stream, is part of the course of a medieval and post-medieval trackway which ran between Badby and Daventry.

Adjacent to the south east of the moated enclosure are further remains associated with the medieval and post-medieval occupation of the site. The cobbled road which runs southwards from the courtyard complex traverses the moat and is discernible as a cropmark running south eastwards. This trackway served as an access route to the moated enclosure in the late medieval and post-medieval periods. Grouped around the trackway are a series of buried building foundations, identified both as parchmarks and through aerial photography; yet further to the south east, close to Berry Green Farm, are the low earthworks of a long rectangular building. These features are considered to include the remains of structures such as agricultural buildings which were in use during the occupation of the moated site and in some cases survived it.

All modern fences and walls are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

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

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Gray, M, Badby
Gray, M, Badby
Brown, T, 'Annual Report' in Badby, Northamptonshire, , Vol. 6, (1991), 19-21
Wilson, M, Hurst, G, 'Medieval Archaeology' in Medieval Britain in 1967, , Vol. 12, (1968), 190-193
Wilson, M, Hurst, G, 'Medieval Archaeology' in Medieval Britain in 1969, , Vol. 14, (1970), 191-193
Wilson, M, Hurst, G, 'Medieval Archaeology' in Medieval Britain in 1968, , Vol. 13, (1969), 270-273
air photograph interpretation (plot), Markham, Philip, Badby, (1994)
Aston, Michael and Bond, James, Badby, Northamptonshire, 1967, survey of earthworks south of excav.
NLAP no.10869, OS/63133 Frames 90-92, (1963)
NLAP no.10872, OS/69066 Frames 103-4, (1969)
NLAP no.10901, OS/66194 Frame 14, (1966)
NLAP no.449, 106G/UK1698 frames 4237-8, (1946)
NLAP no.596, CPE/UK1994 frame 1275, (1947)
NLAP no.855, 541/15 frames 4435-7, (1948)
parchmarks seen in drought, (1991)
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, Archaeological Sites in North-West Northamptonshire, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of N, (1981)
Title: Enclosure Map Source Date: 1779 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

National Grid Reference: SP 56272 59159


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End of official listing