Minster Lovell Hall


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015321

Date first listed: 01-Dec-1925

Date of most recent amendment: 19-Nov-1996


Ordnance survey map of Minster Lovell Hall
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Oxfordshire

District: West Oxfordshire (District Authority)

Parish: Minster Lovell

National Grid Reference: SP 32435 11332

Reasons for Designation

Magnates' residences are high status dwellings of domestic rather than military character. They date from the Norman Conquest (in some cases forming a continuation of a Saxon tradition) and throughout the rest of the medieval period. Individual residences were in use for varying lengths of time; some continued in use into the post-medieval period. Such dwellings were the houses or palaces of royalty, bishops and the highest ranks of the nobility, usually those associated with the monarch. They functioned as luxury residences for the elite and their large retinues, and provided an opportunity to display wealth in the form of elaborate architecture and lavish decoration. As such, these palaces formed an impressive setting for audiences with royalty, foreign ambassadors and other lords and bishops. Magnates' residences are located in both rural and urban areas. Bishops' residences are usually in close association with cathedrals, and all residences tend to be located close to good communication routes. Unless constrained by pre-existing structures, magnates' residences comprised an elaborate series of buildings, usually of stone, that in general included a great hall, chambers, kitchens, service rooms, lodgings, a chapel and a gatehouse, arranged around a single or double courtyard. As a consequence of the status of these sites, historic documentation is often prolific, and can be of great value for establishing the date of construction and subsequent alterations to the buildings, and for investigating the range of activities for which the site was a focus. Magnates' residences are widely dispersed throughout England reflecting the mobility of royalty and the upper echelons of the nobility. There is a concentration of sites which reflects the growing importance of London as a political centre, and the majority of magnates' residences tend to be located in the south of the country. Despite their wide distribution, magnates' residences are a relatively rare form of monument due to their special social status. At present only around 236 examples have been identified of which 150 are ecclesiastical palaces and 86 are connected with royalty. Magnates' residences generally provide an emotive and evocative link with the past, especially through their connections with famous historical figures, and can provide a valuable educational resource, both with respect to the organisation and display of political power, and wider aspects of medieval and post- medieval society such as the development of towns and industries and the distribution of dependent agricultural holdings. Examples with surviving archaeological potential are considered to be of national importance.

Minster Lovell Hall is known from part excavations to contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the construction, function and development of the site. In addition, the historical activities of the lords of Minster Lovell are well documented and connect the family to many key historical events. The monument is open to the public as an historic amenity. Taken as a group, in association with the nearby fishponds, church, farm and dovecote (the subject of a separate scheduling), the monument provides a good example of the relationship of status, religion and economy in the medieval period.


The monument includes the remains of Minster Lovell Hall, its associated buildings, two fishponds and part of what is probably an early medieval cemetery. The site lies immediately south and west of St Kenelm's Church on the north bank of the River Windrush. The upstanding ruins of the hall are Listed Grade I. The Hall comprises the ruined remains of a manor house built in the first half of the 15th century. An earlier house built on the site is believed to have been completely demolished when Minster Lovell Hall was constructed. The manor house was arranged around a quadrangle about 38m wide east-west and open to the river on its southern side. To the north stood the great hall with its entrance porch and the other principal rooms. The porch which is approached from the north by a patterned cobbled pathway, has suffered the effects of being exposed to the elements but internal plaster survives within the vaulted roof. Decorative details can also be seen, giving an impresion of the splendour of the building when newly constructed. The great hall measures 15m by 8m and stands 12m high from floor to wall top. The windows are known to have originally included decorated glass showing heraldic designs relating to the Lovell family. A small staircase led to a large upper room or solar and there was also a chapel on the first floor. The west wing contained apartments and chambers. The east wing was divided into two roughly equal parts by a passage. North of this were the kitchens while the building to the south served as the stables. East of the hall and north of the kitchen was a series of rooms believed to have included the buttery, bakehouse and pantry. On the south west corner stood a substantial tower and externally buttressed wall which was added towards the end of the 15th century. Further minor extensions and alterations to the layout and use of parts of the manor carried on over the course of its history, notably a west facing extension and conversion of the chapel to domestic use, sometime during the 16th century. East of the hall buildings lies a series of earthworks representing ancillary buildings and the earlier road line. Two fishponds, forming part of a substantial group of ponds along this stretch of the Windrush, lie immediately west and south of the hall. The eastern of the two ponds was constructed using a former channel of the river which ran immediately to the south of the manor house. This pond is roughly 50m from east-west and is broader at its eastern (down stream) end. It remains open and has been adapted since its original construction to form an ornamental feature. The pond to the west of the hall measures about 60m from east-west and is broadest at its western end where it measures up to 25m wide. It has become much overgrown with flora and was originally more rectangular in plan, having become silted up over time. There is a further fishpond about 100m south east of the hall which has been heavily dredged in the past and is not included in the scheduling. To the north of the great hall is St Kenelm's Church, dedicated to the martyred son of King Kenwulf of Mercia, who is believed to have died in about AD 819. The church, which is not included in the scheduling, is now surrounded by a roughly square and relatively small graveyard. However, archaeological work in late 1995 and early 1996 found evidence of burials on a strip of land to the west of the present churchyard wall and this area is included in the scheduling. Although undated, these burials can most probably be explained by the earlier existence of a much larger close around the church which shrank as the status of the church lessened as the parish became smaller. It is known from documentary records that Minster Lovell Hall was built by a William Lovell around AD 1440 although the land had been held by the Lovells' since as early as AD 1130. The main additions were probably carried out by his grandson Francis. There is much known about this important family whose members were present on the Third Crusade (1193), and at the battles of Bannockburn (1314) and Bosworth (1485) and others. The manor was sold in 1602 to the Coke family and they remained owners until 1812 although the manor was dismantled in about 1747 after which they did not reside in Minster Lovell. Several further owners followed until Mrs Agneta Terriere placed the ruins in the care of the state in 1935. All boundary walls, fences, the lifebelt holder posts, the surface and base of the new access road, and all modern structures are excluded from the scheduling, but the ground beneath these features 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: 21804

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Taylor, A J, Minster Lovell Hall, (1992), 13
Taylor, A J, Minster Lovell Hall, (1992), 19
Taylor, A J, Minster Lovell Hall, (1992), 18
Discussion of recent excavations, JEFFERY, P.P., DISCUSSION WITH A.C.A.O., (1996)
PRN 3176, C.A.O., Minster Lovell - Remains of Great Hall and other ruins, (1989)
PRN 4155, C.A.O., FISH PONDS, (1993)
PRN 4183, C.A.O., Medieval Fishpond, (1993)
ROBERTS, M.R., Minster Lovell Hall, Access Road - Evaluation Report, 1995,
ROBERTS, M.R., Minster Lovell Hall, Access Road - Evaluation Report, 1996,
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:10000 Series Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: SP 31 SW
Young, C.J., The History and Planning of Minster Lovell Hall, 1985, Lecture text (copy attached)

End of official listing