The remains of a medieval moated manor, priory, settlement and associated features, Cogges


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016269

Date first listed: 05-May-1976

Date of most recent amendment: 08-Aug-1997


Ordnance survey map of The remains of a medieval moated manor, priory, settlement and associated features, Cogges
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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: Witney

National Grid Reference: SP 36179 09344


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 site at Cogges survives well and forms part of an unusually well preserved sequence of remains which contains valuable evidence for the development of a manorial settlement through the Saxon, medieval and post- medieval periods. Archaeological deposits survive well below ground despite later activity, and as a result of historical research the remains are quite well understood.

In conjunction with the surviving medieval and post-medieval buildings which stand on the site and are now in use as a museum, part of the monument serves as an educational and recreational amenity.


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


The monument includes a series of earthworks and buried remains centred on the present Manor Farm Museum. These features include the remains of a moated manor, priory, settlement, water mill, and fishponds. The monument also includes a World War II pill box. Manor Farm Museum, which is Listed Grade II*, is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it is included.

The site lies on a gentle slope on the east bank of the River Windrush between the river valley and the higher ground to the east. It occupies a small spur of Jurassic oolite which provides a well drained location close to water supplies and good agricultural alluvium. This site is one of the narrowest points in the Windrush valley and until the later building of a bridge to the north, was the best east-west crossing point of the river. The medieval settlement in this location, which originated in the Saxon period, was largely superseded in the 13th century by the settlement at Witney on the opposite side of the river, where the Bishop of Winchester's manor house was located. In the western part of the monument are the earthwork remains of a medieval moat, c.6m wide and up to 3m deep. The moat encloses two islands, the northernmost of which was occupied by a stone-built manor house constructed in the 12th century. The southern island is believed to have been added to increase the available space while separating domestic and ancillary buildings. On the northern island are the remains of a slight internal rampart bank. The manor house is known to have been a substantial building and its foundations have been located beneath the present ground surface. It was superseded in the 13th century by a new manor house, built to the east, now Manor Farm Museum.

To the north of the moated enclosures are the buried remains of a small alien priory founded in 1103. Located on the site of the present rector's house and churchyard, it would have included a substantial stone house to accommodate the small group of monks and lay brothers who lived there. It was associated with St Mary's Church, Listed Grade I, which continues in ecclesiastical use and is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it is included. The grant for the foundation of the alien priory included a large gift of land spread throughout southern England and much of this was passed to other Benedictine estates or rented out for a fee. The priory site was later rebuilt as a vicarage and the site eventually passed to Eton College in 1441 when it was seized from the prior by Henry V.

Adjacent to the east of both the priory site and the moated site are the remains of the medieval settlement of Cogges. Buried deposits include features of Saxon date, while slight earthworks south and east of the moated site indicate the location of building platforms and associated features. In the 13th century this settlement was abandoned in favour of a new site further east and its remains were partly overlain by the new manor house and associated buildings.

In the north eastern part of the monument are the earthwork and buried remains of a rectangular fishpond. It is enclosed by a substantial bank and was formed by using the line of the Madley Brook which was diverted to the north to form a bypass leat. The pond probably acted both as a fishpond, symbolising the high status of the adjacent manor, and as a mill pond providing a head of water for the mill to the west.

The site of the mill is located in the north western part of the monument in a bend of the Windrush, and is first mentioned in the Domesday Book along with the manor. It is no longer visible above ground but remains survive buried below the present ground level of the meadow. Nearby is a World War II pill box, one of a pair which can still be found close to the crossing of the river. They are part of a larger series of local defences which were manned by Home Guard soldiers to control movement in the event of invasion. It consists of a cylindrical cast concrete tube laid on one open end and open to the sky. Its face is broken by a number of small observation/firing ports and would have been manned by one or more sentries. The medieval remains at Cogges are well documented. The builders of the first manor house were the Arsic family who had strong ties with Normandy and are known to have visited the Abbey of Fecamp in November 1103. It was this family which granted the priory to the Benedictine abbey and who later moved the village in an attempt to offset the Bishop of Winchester's control over trade in the area. The new manor was built during the 13th century by the De Grays. They appear to have preferred a better drained site made available by the recent relocation of the settlement. The later change of status towards a wealthy farm came in the 1680s under the direction of the Pope family and the site remained in agricultural use until its conversion to a museum this century. The nine Listed Grade II chest tombs are included in the scheduling.

Excluded from the scheduling are all standing buildings which include St Mary's Church, Manor Farm Museum, Blake House, The Priory (now a vicarage and Listed Grade II*), the barn range, the wall 58m ENE of the manor farmhouse, the shelter shed and dairy, the ox byre, the stables, the wall 5m NNE of the farmhouse, the dairy, and the courtyard walls attached to the manor farmhouse, all of which are Listed Grade II. In addition, 28 Church Lane, numbers 1-5 and 17-18 Meadow View, all made-up roads and other solid surfaces, all boundary walls, fences, and posts are also excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all of these features and the above mentioned buildings 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: 28177

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the Counties of England: Religious Houses, (1976), 161-2
PRN 4601, C.A.O., Manor House, (1990)

End of official listing