Camera of the Knights Hospitallers, medieval settlement and cultivation remains, post-medieval house and gardens


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Ordnance survey map of Camera of the Knights Hospitallers, medieval settlement and cultivation remains, post-medieval house and gardens
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

West Lindsey (District Authority)
Great Limber
National Grid Reference:
TA 13829 08535

Reasons for Designation

A camera is a subsidiary farm of a preceptory (a medieval monastery of the military orders of Knights Templar or Knights Hospitaller). Camerae are very rare in England with less than 40 known examples. In view of this rarity, and their importance in supporting the monastic communities of the preceptories (examples of which are also rare), all camerae exhibiting archaeological survival are identified as nationally important.

The remains of the camera of the Knights Hospitallers at Great Limber, and adjacent settlement remains, survive as a continuous series of substantial earthworks and buried deposits which have been undisturbed by excavation. Valuable evidence for the relationship between the pre-existing settlement and its field system (represented by the ridge-and-furrow cultivation remains) and the superimposed establishments of the Templars and Hospitallers, will thus be preserved. The remains of the early post-medieval house will permit not just a study of its construction and function but also an understanding of the appropriation and conversion of Hospitallers' estates by secular landlords in the 16th century. The monument has been the subject of a detailed archaeological survey and is thus quite well understood, and research on the surviving historical documentation has further enhanced the appreciation of the remains.


The monument includes the remains of a medieval manor believed to have served as a camera of the Knights Hospitallers from the 14th to the 16th centuries. In the late 12th century the Knights Templar held the second largest manor in Great Limber, which they let to secular tenants; when the order was dissolved in the early 14th century the estate passed to the Hospitallers and thereafter developed as a camera dependent on the preceptory at Willoughton, from which it was administered as an agricultural estate under the management of a steward. In 1338 there was a large house, dovecote and garden on the site. After the dissolution of the preceptory in 1540 the house was first reoccupied by Thomas Smyth and then sold to the Pelham family who must have reconstructed it and let it to a variety of tenants until its abandonment in the 17th century. The remains from the medieval and post-medieval periods are partly overlain by the gardens and farmbuildings of a second house, to the north east, called Limber House, built before 1812 and destroyed in the mid-20th century. The area of the present farmyard and the site of Limber House are excluded from the scheduling. The monument also includes the earthwork remains of medieval settlement and cultivation which lie adjacent to the west.

The remains of the camera are situated around and to the west of the farmyard and garden of the former Limber House. Immediately to the south west of the present farmyard, in an area of pastureland, are the earthworks of a rectangular embanked enclosure. The bank varies between 1m and 2m in height and includes the brick and flint foundations of a later wall. It encloses an area of approximately 80m by 90m, near the centre of which are the low, earth covered ruins of a large house of 16th and 17th century date built of brick, stone and flint. In the south eastern corner of the enclosure are the remains of a large rectangular barn, and the remainder of the enclosure is subdivided by the earthwork remains of walls and ranges of outbuildings. This enclosure is believed to represent the main enclosure of the Hospitallers camera where the main house and outbuildings, a garden and probably a chapel would have been located. The visible building remains, including the enclosure wall, are principally associated with the post-medieval occupation of the site but are believed to overlie structures of medieval date.

At its north western corner the enclosure bank overlies an earlier, lower bank which runs northwards to form the western boundary of two rectangular closes on the same alignment as the main enclosure. The closes are separated by a further bank, and the northernmost close is bounded on the north by the remains of a hollow way now partly overlain by a raised farm track. These two closes are believed to delineate part of the estate owned by the Templars in the 12th-14th centuries and reoccupied in the 14th-16th centuries as part of the Hospitallers' camera. Both the north eastern part of the main enclosure and the eastern parts of the closes to the north are overlain by the remains of later features, including a broad bank on which trees were planted to screen the farmyard at Limber House.

Running along the eastern side of the main enclosure are the earthworks of a hollow way. Adjacent to the east are the remains of another rectangular enclosure, thought to have formed part of the camera established by the Hospitallers and reused in the post-medieval period. This enclosure is represented beyond the northern and eastern sides of the modern farmyard by a low chalk bank. The enclosure is now partly occupied by the farmyard (which is wholly excluded from the scheduling) and by the remains of the garden which surrounded the former Limber House. The south western corner of the garden is bounded by a narrow bank which runs eastwards and northwards along the outside edge of a linear depression; these features represent the remains of a ha-ha which formerly separated the garden from adjacent pastureland.

The north western part of the monument is occupied by an area of settlement remains representing the former eastern extent of the village of Great Limber. The earthworks, which survive to a height of 0.5m-1m, include the remains of buildings, plot boundaries and village streets. Running along the northern edge of the monument are the remains of a hollow way, formerly part of the village high street; running southwards from it, and curving westwards towards the church, are the remains of another hollow way. Aligned approximately north-south between these two streets are a series of parallel banks, subdivided by further banks running at right angles, which represent plot boundaries. Within these plots, situated along the southern side of the high street, are the earthworks of stone building foundations and depressions representing yards. On the south and east sides of the southern hollow way is another series of rectangular plots, on the same alignment, with further building remains. This part of the village was depopulated gradually; in 1676 there appear to have been two dwellings remaining in the north western corner of the monument, and by 1812 the whole area had been abandoned.

Both the camera and the settlement partly overlie the remains of earlier ridge-and-furrow cultivation. In the two closes which form the north western part of the camera are a series of broad ridges running east-west representing the remains of a furlong; at the western end of the southern close is a broad ridge running north-south which served as a headland. Adjacent to the west are the remains of another furlong in which the ridges are aligned north-south; the northern part of this furlong is overlain by the house plots at the south eastern limit of the settlement. Both of these furlongs formed part of the same field which was cultivated in the earlier medieval period prior to both the expansion of the settlement and the establishment of the camera. These remains are bounded on the south by a hollow way running east-west; beyond it are further traces of ridge-and-furrow cultivation on a slightly different alignment, representing the remains of a field of later medieval date which was known in the late 17th century as Stone Pit Furlong. In the south eastern corner of the monument these features are overlain by traces of post-medieval activity.

The area of the present farmyard and the site of Limber House are totally excluded from the scheduling. All modern standing buildings, modern paving, fences and gates are also excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath them is included.

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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Lincolnshire: Volume II, (1906), 242
MPP Single Monument Class Description, Gilchrist, R, Camerae, (1990)
occupier, Patrick, M, (1994)
RCHM(E), Everson, P L and Taylor C C and Dunn, C J, Change And Continuity: Rural Settlement in North-West Lincolnshire, (1991)
RCHM(E), Everson, P L and Taylor C C and Dunn, C J, Change And Continuity: Rural Settlement in North-West Lincolnshire, (1991)
RCHM(E), Everson, P L and Taylor C C and Dunn, C J, Change And Continuity: Rural Settlement in North-West Lincolnshire, (1991)
RCHM(E), Everson, P L and Taylor C C and Dunn, C J, Change And Continuity: Rural Settlement in North-West Lincolnshire, (1991)
RCHM(E), Everson, P L and Taylor C C and Dunn, C J, Change And Continuity: Rural Settlement in North-West Lincolnshire, (1991)
Title: This is the Map of Great Limber Belonging to the Worshipfull... Source Date: 1676 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: LAO ref. YARB 4/18/1


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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