Garden, moat and five fishponds at Kirby Bellars


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010304

Date first listed: 14-Mar-1952

Date of most recent amendment: 04-Sep-1992


Ordnance survey map of Garden, moat and five fishponds at Kirby Bellars
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This copy shows the entry on 23-Jan-2019 at 18:34:26.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Leicestershire

District: Melton (District Authority)

Parish: Kirby Bellars

National Grid Reference: SK 71882 17634, SK 72024 17419, SK 72173 17889


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.

From the 16th century to the beginning of the 18th century the setting out of formal gardens attached to high status residences became fashionable amongst the wealthier classes. Common architectural features of these landscape gardens included prospect mounds or look-out points, terraced walkways, formal vistas and tree-lined avenues and ornamental ponds. Only some 100 gardens with substantial earthworks are recorded in England. Kirby Bellars is a rare and well preserved example of a medieval moat later incorporated into a formal garden. The alterations to the site as a whole are well documented historically and reflect changing fashion in land use and social aspirations of the wealthier classes in the late medieval and post-medieval periods.


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


The monument at Kirby Bellars is divided into three separate areas and lies to the north of the Leicester-Melton Mowbray road, 3km west of Melton. It consists of a medieval moat and fishponds which were later incorporated into a 17th century formal garden. The medieval moated site is rectangular and measures 70 x 50m overall. The moat ditch measures 15m wide and 2m deep and contains a stone entrance causeway on the southern side. The formal garden earthworks, dating to the 17th century, include a series of banks, rectangular fishponds and two prospect mounds at either end of the gardens area. The earthworks to the south of the moat comprise a terraced walkway 170m long which ranges in height from 2m in the north to 1m in the south. The two prospect mounds are located at the north west corner of the moat and 200m to the south east of the moat, respectively. They are both conical in shape and flat-topped. The northern mound is 4m high, 22m in diameter at the base and 6m wide at the summit; the second mound is 3-4m high, 18m diameter at the base and about 5m wide at its summit. A fishpond measuring 65m long lies to the north-east of the moat, with a flat-topped mound 1m high and 18m across to the west of it and irregular earthworks in between. The second area lies to the west of this and comprises a series of three fishponds in a line, the longest of which is 65m long. The third area lies 150m to the north and contains a water-filled pond adjacent to the railway, marking the northern extent of the site. The moated site is known from documents to be of medieval origin. A 14th century reference describes the hall and many associated buildings as being both inside and outside the moat, traces of buildings and medieval roof tiles have been recorded from the moated area. The medieval house was replaced by the present one on a different site in the 17th century, at which time the formal garden earthworks were laid out by Sir Erasmus de la Fontaine, who held the site from 1604-1672.

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: 17032

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Hartley, R F, The Medieval Earthworks of North-West Leicestershire, (1987)

End of official listing