Reasons for Designation
Manorial centres were important foci of medieval rural life. They served as
prestigious aristocratic or seigneurial residences, the importance of their
owners and inhabitants being reflected in the quality and elaboration of their
buildings. Local agricultural and village life was normally closely regulated
by the lord of the manor, and hence the inhabitants of these sites had a
controlling interest in many aspects of medieval life. Manorial sites could
take on many forms. Their buildings normally included a hall used as communal
space for domestic and administrative purposes, private chambers, service and
storage areas and kitchens (which were often housed in separate structures to
reduce fire risk). The wider manorial complex may often have included stables,
barns, stores, dovecots, fishponds, and enclosures for orchards and gardens.
In many areas of the country the buildings were located within a moat, the
latter being intended to further enhance the status of the site. Other manors
were not moated, their status being indicated largely by the qualities of
their buildings or, like Seamer, their location in a prominent position. This
latter group of manorial centres are the most difficult to identify today
because the sites were not enclosed by major earthwork features, such as a
moat, many of which survive well, and the buildings often exhibited a fairly
unplanned layout which could extend over a large area. Continued use of sites
has also in many instances led to the destruction of medieval remains. Hence
examples of medieval manorial centres which can be positively identified and
shown to have extensive surviving archaeological remains are relatively rare.
The surviving ruins and substantial earthwork remains at Seamer manor are well
preserved. There is little evidence of post-demolition disturbance, and
archaeological deposits associated with the manorial centre will survive in
The monument includes the remains of the medieval manor at Manor Garth, Seamer
situated on the edge of the village on a low bluff overlooking low marshy
land. The remains consist of a section of upstanding medieval masonry which
was originally part of the manor house and further substantial earthwork
remains of both the manor house and associated manorial complex which dates to
the early 14th century.
The upstanding ruins, which date to the 15th century, comprise a section of
masonry wall 12m long and up to 4m wide with an arched doorway through the
south west end. It is built of coursed limestone rubble, with some ashlar
facing and some traces of architectural detail.
Surrounding the ruins are substantial grass covered earthworks representing
the buried remains of the manor house complex. The earthworks form terraces
and banks, some of which are up to 1.5m high. Stonework from the manor is
exposed at a number of places on the earthworks.
A track crosses through the area of the scheduling north of the site of the
manor house and at its east end is carried by a raised causeway 8m wide and 1m
high. North of the track is a wide terrace and further earthworks which
represent the remains of the wider manorial complex.
The area to the south west of the monument is currently boggy land but in the
medieval period was a more substantial lake or mere from which Seamer takes
its name. The manor complex was thus situated on higher land overlooking the
lake and as such occupied a prestigious position.
A manor existed at Seamer before the Conquest and was granted to the Percy
family by William I. The Percys were known to have had a house at Seamer in
1304. It seems to have been used as a dower house; a house provided for a
widow, often on the estate of the deceased husband. In 1536 Henry Percy, Earl
of Northumberland made over the manor to the crown and by 1547 it was called a
castle. The manor was granted to Sir Henry Gate in 1555, passed to his son in
1589 and passed through several lessees and owners. It is not known when the
manor house was abandoned and demolished. The upstanding ruins are Listed
All fences and boundaries and the two brick sheds on the site are excluded
from the scheduling although the ground beneath is included.
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.