Reasons for Designation
Fortified houses were residences belonging to some of the richest and most
powerful members of society. Their design reflects a combination of domestic
and military elements. In some instances, the fortifications may be cosmetic
additions to an otherwise conventional high status dwelling, giving a military
aspect while remaining practically indefensible. They are associated with
individuals or families of high status and their ostentatious architecture
often reflects a high level of expenditure. The nature of the fortification
varies, but can include moats, curtain walls, a gatehouse and other towers,
gunports and crenellated parapets.
Their buildings normally included a hall used as communal space for domestic
and administrative purposes, kitchens, service and storage areas. In later
houses the owners had separate private living apartments, these often
receiving particular architectural emphasis. In common with castles, some
fortified houses had outer courts beyond the main defences in which stables,
brew houses, granaries and barns were located.
Fortified houses were constructed in the medieval period, primarily between
the 15th and 16th centuries, although evidence from earlier periods, such as
the increase in the number of licences to crenellate in the reigns of Edward I
and Edward II, indicates that the origins of the class can be traced further
back. They are found primarily in several areas of lowland England: in upland
areas they are outnumbered by structures such as bastles and tower houses
which fulfilled many of the same functions. As a rare monument type, with
fewer than 200 identified examples, all examples exhibiting significant
surviving archaeological remains are considered of national importance.
The earthwork remains at Braybrooke are well preserved and at least two major
periods of activity are represented, the first by the settlement remains, the
second by the moated manor and its associated features. Structural and
artefactual evidence will survive within both moated sites providing evidence
for the original layout of buildings, whilst the accumulated fill of the moat
ditches and the fishponds will retain information about the economy and
environment of the site's inhabitants. Our understanding of the moated manor
and the settlement is enhanced by the survival of documentary sources which
offer dates and descriptions of the activities which occurred at the site.
The monument, which is divided into two areas, is situated on the eastern
outskirts of the village of Braybrooke and includes the earthwork and buried
remains of a medieval moated manor known as Braybrooke Castle and its
associated enclosures and water control features. The monument also includes
parts of a medieval settlement site and a second moated site which is situated
to the south east.
In the early 14th century Thomas de Latimer was granted a licence to
strengthen his manor house at Braybrooke and documentary sources indicate that
the moated house was constructed at this time. The manor passed to the Griffin
family in the early 15th century, but by the mid-16th century the buildings
were in a poor condition. They were finally pulled down in 1633 and replaced
by a farmhouse which was itself demolished in 1960.
The earthwork and buried remains of the moated site, which measures
approximately 80m square, lie within a larger rectangular enclosure which is
bounded by a ditch to the east, by a ditch and bank to the south and a pond to
the west and north. These enclosure ditches form part of the water management
system associated with the moated manor and include ponds, fish breeding tanks
and further water channels, originally fed from a west-flowing brook situated
to the north. To the north of the moated site is a large rectangular pond
which is bounded along its west and north sides by a large retaining bank. It
is now dry and the interior retains evidence of ridge and furrow cultivation.
At its eastern end is a smaller pond, almost 3m deep, which is joined to the
former by two channels which in turn form two sides of a small raised island.
To the west of the moated site, and adjacent to the southern side of the large
pond, are a series of inter-connecting fishponds that take the form of
rectangular flat-topped mounds surrounded by ditches. Three have shallow
depressions or ponds within them which have been interpreted as fish-breeding
tanks where small fish were kept until they were large enough to be
transferred into the main pond. A further dry, rectangular pond is visible
immediately to the south. The area to the east of the moated site is divided
into a number of small enclosures or paddocks by a sequence of ditches which
also formed part of the manor's water control system.
To the north and south of the moated manor are the remains of a former
settlement believed to have either been abandoned as result of shrinkage or
deliberately cleared prior to the construction of the moated site. The
earthworks to the north of the brook include hollow ways, one of which
connects with an existing village lane at its west end, a number of linear
crofts and several building platforms. Ridge and furrow is visible within some
of the crofts and also to the north and east of the settlement earthworks. A
sample area of these associated remains is included in the scheduling in order
to preserve the relationship between the settlement and cultivation remains.
Approximately 100m to the south east of the moated manor site are the remains
of a further, smaller, moated site represented by a rectangular mound
surrounded by a shallow ditch. This feature is within a separate area of
All standing buildings and fences are excluded from the scheduling, although
the ground beneath them is included.
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.