Middleton moated monastic grange, eight fishponds and connecting channels
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
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This copy shows the entry on 18-Sep-2019 at 21:13:54.
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 55597 77030, SJ 55723 77040, SJ 55726 77151, SJ 55798 77046
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.
Despite being located in a woodland context Middleton monastic grange survives well. Its earthworks remain well preserved and the monument is unencumbered by modern development. The site will therefore contain considerable evidence of its original form and the activities which occurred on the enclosed island. Limited excavation at the site found dressed stone remains and further evidence of the monastic grange and subsequent Middleton Hall will exist. An unusual aspect of this monument is its large number of associated waterlogged fishponds which will retain organic material in their sediments. The scale of the moated site and number and complexity of the associated fishponds confirm that this was a grange of considerable importance to its founding monastery.
The monument is Middleton medieval monastic moated grange together with eight
fishponds and connecting channels. It is divided into four separate
constraint areas. The site includes an island measuring some 64m by 54m that
is surrounded by a dry moat up to 12m wide and 2.5m deep. An outer bank 8m
wide and 1m high flanks the moat's southern arm. The southwest quadrant of
the island has been separated from the remainder by a dry ditch up to 8m wide
and 2.5m deep. In `The Coppice', to the east of the moat, lie eight fishponds
and connecting channels. At the northeastern end of `The Coppice' are a set
of three irregularly-shaped waterlogged ponds measuring, from north to south,
some 65m by 37m, 67m by 35m, and 24m by 16m. At the southeastern end of `The
Coppice' there is a second set of three ponds measuring, from north to south,
20m by 6m, 43m by 12m, and l7m by 11m. The northerly and central of these
ponds remains waterlogged, the southerly pond is dry. Situated between these
ponds and the moat are a further two waterlogged ponds, each measuring some
16m by 8m, with an outlet channel issuing from the westerly.
The site is considered to be the Mid-Eston referred to in Domesday and known
to have belonged to St Werburgh's Church in Chester. The site was confirmed
to Norton Priory by John Lacy, Earl of Lincoln and Halton c.1236. A chapel is
known to have existed at Middleton with a priest provided by Norton Priory.
After the Dissolution the chapel is thought to have continued in use and the
island occupied by Middleton Hall. Limited excavation in the moat in 1920
revealed stone octagonal pillars for supporting a timber bridge.
All field boundaries are excluded from the scheduling as is the corrugated
metal sheeting placed across the narrowest part of the northernmost fishpond.
The ground beneath these features, however, is included.
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
- Legacy System number:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Talbot, H, Plan of Aston Moat, (1985)
JHEB, , 'Cheshire Sheaf' in Cheshire Sheaf, , Vol. 17, (1920)
Ormerod, G, 'History of Cheshire' in History of Cheshire, , Vol. 3, (1882)
Richards, R, 'Lancs And Chesh Arch Soc' in Trans Lancs And Chesh Arch Soc, , Vol. 102, (1950)
Dennison, E, MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Fishponds, (1987)
Dennison, E., MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Fishponds, (1988)
SMR No. 932/1/1, Cheshire SMR, Middleton Grange, (1988)
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