Penhallam medieval moated manor house, 360m south west of Ashbury Camp


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1013669

Date first listed: 18-Jun-1996


Ordnance survey map of Penhallam medieval moated manor house, 360m south west of Ashbury Camp
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Jacobstow

District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Week St. Mary

National Grid Reference: SX 22509 97271


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 manor house at Penhallam is one of the very few medieval moated sites in south west England, situated well beyond the main national concentrations of moated sites in central and eastern England. It is unusual on a national level as a manor house retaining its full and unmodified ground plan as abandoned in the 14th century, and on a regional level, in south west England, as an example of this period and layout of manor house. The excavation at this monument has elucidated the ground plan of the manor house and its phased development. Some areas remain substantially intact, notably the western sector of the moat and its water inflow system. The finds recovered during the excavation have also provided structural information and amplify our knowledge of the domestic activities at the monument. The importance of the surviving and excavated information is supplemented by the known historical identification of this manor and the families that held it, enabling the fortunes of its physical remains to be set in their social context.


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


The monument includes a late 12th-mid-14th century moated manor house in a steep-sided valley floor near Week St Mary in north east Cornwall. This moated manor house is a monument in the care of the Secretary of State. Our knowledge of this monument and its visible appearance derives both from surviving features and from evidence recorded during excavations undertaken between 1968 and 1973; some excavated features have been reconstructed in situ and consequently now form part of the visible monument. The monument occupies much of a broad level basin in the floor of a deep valley, south of the confluence of two minor tributaries of the River Neet; the larger tributary flows SSE-NNW to the east of the monument, the smaller tributary flows close south west-north east to the north west of the monument. The monument is visible as a sub-circular moat cut into valley-floor deposits, defining a central island which supports the walls and foundation trenches of the manor house complex. The surviving walls are generally 0.75m-0.8m wide and 0.5m high but they rise to 1.4m high in the north west sector. The foundation trenches recorded by excavation are now visible as modern, low, wire-framed and turf-covered earth banks which are built over their courses. The moat is flat-bottomed, from 5.5m wide and 1.5m deep on the south to 12m wide and 1m deep on the north. It contains water on the north, east and south but surviving silt deposits raise the west side above the water level. Water enters the south east side of the moat from a feeder channel which now drains marshy ground occupying the valley floor to the SSE. The valley floor situation of this moated site required relatively major water management works to ensure a controlled supply to the moat and avoid periodic flooding. This was achieved by diverting the course of the larger tributary to an artificial channel to the east of its valley floor and at a slightly higher level. The diversion was created 250m south east of the moat, where the meandering upstream course of the tributary is abruptly turned 10m north east from its valley floor by a rock-cut channel. Then it returns to flow north west and later NNW, following the markedly smoother course of the artificial channel and maintained to the east of its former valley floor by an earth and rubble bank. As it passes east of the moat, the bank enlarges to form a distinct ridge, up to 15m wide and 1.5m high. South of the moat, the former valley floor survives as silted and marshy land but the original means of controlling the water supply to the moat will have required a sluice-gate at the point of diversion into the rock-cut channel; that gate would be opened to admit water as necessary to the moat's feeder channel along the former valley floor and would be closed in times of flood. Silting largely masks the line of the moat's feeder channel except over its final 55m SSE from the moat itself. After passing around the moat, water leaves by a narrow channel to the NNW, joining the smaller tributary north west of the moat. The island defined by the moat measures up to 55m NNW-SSE by 48m ENE-WSW. Excavation revealed its entrance on the south, initially by drawbridge operated from a gatehouse on the edge of the island. This early 13th century gatehouse was rubble-built, enclosing frame-slots for a counter-balanced drawbridge which pivotted into a pit under the gatehouse. Roofing slates from the gatehouse and an oak sill beam from the pivot frame were recovered during the excavation. The drawbridge lowered onto a post-built bridge extending from a stone bridge abutment on the south side. In the later 13th century, the gatehouse and drawbridge arrangement was replaced by a fixed bridge with stone abutments built against the truncated earlier structures on each side, rubble from which is still visible, including the footings of the gatehouse. The southern approach to the bridge was flanked by walls, up to 8.75m long. On the island, walling survives of a passage from the gatehouse, and later bridge, to the south range of the manor house, where there was an inner gateway. The structural complex forming the manor house is visible as four ranges of buildings around a subrectangular courtyard that measures up to 19m north-south by 17m east-west. The excavations indicated that the surviving plan resulted from four main building phases between the late 12th century and the early 14th century. The east range contains the earliest structure: the foundation trenches of a large rectangular building measuring 12.5m long, north-south, by 6.1m wide internally, with a midline row of three stone slabs for posts to carry a beam for an upper floor. A fireplace was provided in the east wall. This building is dated to c.1180-1200 and identified as a `camera', which housed, over an undercroft, the first floor domestic apartments of the owner. A stone wall, still surviving, partitioned the northern third of the undercroft in the later 13th century. About AD 1200, a wardrobe and garderobe (toilet) were built onto the northern end of the camera. The wardrobe measures 7m long by 3.8m wide, with the garderobe chamber extending a further 1m from the northern end. Their walling survives in part, as does a drainage channel curving north east from the garderobe to the moat. Also in this phase, a flight of greenstone steps, whose foundation survives, was built up to the north west corner of the camera. The third and most extensive visible phase of building took place between c.1224 and 1236, resulting in most structures of the north, west and south ranges. The north range is dominated by the hall, extending west from the wardrobe to which it was linked by a passage and a small screened room. The hall measures 12.35m long, east-west, by 7.15m wide internally. At the east end was a stone-revetted and partly paved raised area, called a dais, 0.22m high, 2.13m wide and still visible extending 5.8m along the east wall. The dais was the site of the high table, for which a stone-faced clay and rubble bench extends along the east wall. Other benches line the north and south sides of the hall. A millstone forms the base of a hearth in front of the dais; on excavation, remains of a wattle-and-daub chimney hood were recovered around the hearth. Fragments of greenstone window frames were found from two-light windows with a quatrefoil opening above. The hall was entered from the courtyard by a door near the south west corner. Two doors in the west wall led to the service rooms that occupy much of the west range. At the north end of the west range, the doorways from the hall open to the buttery on the north and the servery on the south. The buttery, used for serving wines and beers, measures 6.55m east-west by 4.5m wide internally and was lit by a single inwardly-splayed, unglazed, slit window in the north wall. The servery measures 6.7m east-west by 4.5m wide internally; in its south west corner is a well, 1m in diameter and excavated to 1.68m deep. The large foundations of the buttery and servery walls imply a former first floor, access to which was provided by a stone stair with greenstone steps, whose base is visible in the north west corner of the servery. The first floor rooms had a garderobe; the surviving base of its shaft, 1.3m square internally, projects beyond the north west corner of the buttery. West of the buttery and servery, a single storey lean-to room, called a pentice, accommodated the bakehouse. This measures 9.45m north-south by 4.25m wide internally. At its north end, a malting kiln survives with a rubble platform, 2.75m wide and to 0.9m high, spanning the width of the room. Near its centre, a chamber, 1m in diameter with vertical sides, was heated by a narrow flue, 1.1m long and 0.5m wide, extending to the southern edge of the platform. In the north west corner, south of the platform, is a circular bread oven, 1.35m in internal diameter, with a rubble and clay wall faced with small rubble, cracked and discoloured by heat on the inner face. Excavation revealed evidence for a second bread oven, raised above the floor in the south of the room. South of the servery and bakehouse the west range accommodated the kitchen and pantry. The kitchen and the rooms fronting onto the south west corner of the courtyard were rebuilt in the fourth building phase, c.AD 1300, on the early 13th century foundations, possibly due to a fire. The kitchen measures 8.1m north-south by 5.35m wide. Excavation revealed its original central hearth was replaced by a fireplace whose hearth remains visible beside the south wall. The fireplace hearth has a millstone at its centre with a cobbled surround, raised slightly above the kitchen floor level and edged by narrow slabs. West of the kitchen, the pantry was a pentice, like the bakehouse. It measures 7.92m north-south by 4.27m wide internally; the northern 2.75m of its interior is occupied by the rubble base of a high level oven. A drain, partly covered by slabs, runs west from the kitchen, across the pantry floor and under its west wall, to empty into the moat. The southern end of the west range was occupied by the lodgings for the chief retainers. This was a two storey building extending the alignment of the kitchen to its north and now surviving largely as foundation trenches. These delineate an undercroft measuring up to 9m north-south by 5.35m wide; the northern 2.25m of the undercroft was partitioned to form a passage to a rubble-built garderobe which projects west from the lodgings and served both floors. The ground floor of the garderobe survives to 1.3m high, with a dividing wall separating the eastern half, serving the undercroft, from the base of the shaft serving the first floor; the garderobe drained to the moat beneath rubble arches in its dividing wall and west wall. Access to the first floor of the lodgings was by a stone stair whose rubble base is visible in the courtyard beyond the lodgings' north east corner. The western half of the southern range, between the lodgings and the entrance passage from the gatehouse, is occupied by the larder. This measures 5.64m east-west by 4.5m wide internally, with lower courses largely still surviving. This room was provided with a stone-lined cool storage pit in its north east corner, measuring 1.6m long, 1m wide and surviving 0.25m deep, but 0.9m deep when excavated. Beyond the entrance passage, the eastern half of the southern range is occupied by the chapel, which formed part of the c.1224-1236 building phase. The chapel also has largely intact lower courses and measures 10.36m east-west by 4.42m wide internally. At the east, the sanctuary, 2.5m wide, is slightly raised and demarcated by a slab-edged step. The sanctuary supports the rubble base of the altar, which on excavation measured 1.68m wide and extended 0.76m from the east wall. Rubble benches extend along the south and west walls, and part of the north wall. A doorway opens to the courtyard slightly west of centre in the north wall. The excavation recovered fragments of tracery from the east window, along with parts of inwardly-splayed narrow windows with pointed-arched heads, all in greenstone. Painted wall plaster from the east wall was also found. The chapel's east wall originally extended north to meet the south wall of the camera; later this was replaced by a wall 2.1m to the east, whose lower courses survive. This latter wall included a gateway at its southern end giving access from the courtyard to the periphery of the island. The excavation indicated that this manor house was falling into decay shortly after the mid-14th century, followed by demolition and extensive robbing for building stone. Historical records show that the manor of Penhallam formed part of the honour of Cardinham, held by Richard fitz Turold in 1087, and by his descendants, eventually the de Cardinham family, until the male line became extinct with the death of Andrew de Cardinham in c.1256. It is Andrew de Cardinham who is considered responsible for the major third building phase at this monument. By 1270, Andrew's heiress, Isolda de Cardinham, had given Penhallam to the Champernowne family, who held the manor for the remainder of the site's occupation. During much of the early 14th century, Penhallam manor was tenanted from the Champernownes by the Beaupre family. In 1319, Isabella de Beaupre obtained a licence from the Bishop of Exeter to say mass in her oratory at Penhallam. Partitioning of the manor's lands began in the 1330s and had been completed by 1428. All English Heritage notices, fixtures and fittings are excluded from the scheduling but 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: 15413

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
DoE/HBMC, , Anc Mons Terrier for Penhallam Medieval Manor (Bury Court), (1984)
DoE/HBMC, , Anc Mons Terrier for Penhallam Medieval Manor (Bury Court), (1984)
Beresford, G, 'Medieval Archaeology' in The Medieval Manor of Penhallam, Jacobstow, Cornwall, , Vol. 18, (1974), 90-145
Preston-Jones, A, Rose, P, 'Cornish Archaeology' in Week St Mary, Town and Castle, , Vol. 31, (1992), 143-153
Preston-Jones, A, Rose, P, 'Cornish Archaeology' in Medieval Cornwall, , Vol. 25, (1986), 135-185
Appended to the AM terrier for site, Site history note labelled SAM 1100 and file ref AA 74537/1,
CAU, Cornwall MPP Class Evaluation for Ringworks; comments, (1992)
Cornwall SMR entry PRN 2059.2,
DoE/EH/HPG, DoE note on Penhallam for AM Board, 9/1979; HPG site notices,
DoE/HBMC/HPG, DoE notes on Penhallam for AM Board, 9/1979; HPG signs on site,
Note appended to AM terrier for site, Note on site history for SAM 1100 and file AA 74537/1,
pp 4-6; Type A1c, Darvill, T C, EH MPP Monument Class Description for 'Moats', (1988)
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 2297 Source Date: Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
various dates between 1979 & 1994, DoE/HBMC/HPG, Penhallam: DoE notes to AM Board, 9/1979; AM Terrier;HPG notices,

End of official listing