A late 16th century house, gardens and dovecote, 300m west of Mill Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016319

Date first listed: 24-Oct-1997


Ordnance survey map of A late 16th century house, gardens and dovecote, 300m west of Mill Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Northamptonshire

District: Kettering (District Authority)

Parish: Newton and Little Oakley

National Grid Reference: SP 88590 83310


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

Reasons for Designation

Country houses of the late Tudor and early Jacobean period comprise a distinctive group of buildings which differ in form, function, design and architectural style from country houses of both earlier and later date. Built after the dissolution of the monasteries they are the product of a particular historical period in which a newly-emerged Protestant elite of lawyers, courtiers, diplomats and other officials, mostly with close contacts at court, competed with each other to demonstrate wealth, taste and loyalty to the sovereign, often overstretching themselves financially. Their houses are a development of the medieval hall with flanking wings and a gatehouse, often looking inwards onto a courtyard; later examples tend to be built outwards, typically on a U- or H-plan. The hall was transformed from a reception area to an entrance vestibule and the long gallery and loggia were introduced. Many houses were provided with state apartments and extensive lodgings for the accommodation of royal visitors and their retinues. Country houses of this period were normally constructed under the supervision of one master-mason or a succession of masons, often combining a number of designs drawn up by the master-mason, surveyor or by the employer himself. Many designs and stylistic details were copied from Continental pattern-books, particularly those published in the 1560s on French, Italian and Flemish models; further architectural ideas were later spread by the use of foreign craftsmen. Symmetry in both plan and elevation was an overriding principle, often carried to extremes in the Elizabethan architectural `devices' in which geometric forms were employed to express religious and philosophical ideas. Elements of Classical architecture were drawn on individually rather than applied strictly in unified orders. This complex network of influences resulted in liberal and idiosyncratic combinations of architectural styles which contrasted with the adoption of the architecture of the Italian Renaissance, and with it the role of the architect, later in the 17th century. About 5000 country houses are known to have been standing in 1675; of these about 1000 are thought to survive, although most have been extensively altered or rebuilt in subsequent centuries to meet new demands and tastes. Houses which are uninhabited, and have thus been altered to a lesser degree, are much rarer. Surviving country houses of the late Tudor and early Jacobean period stand as an irreplaceable record of an architectural development which was unique both to England and to a particular period in English history characterised by a flourishing of artistic invention; they provide an insight into politics, patronage and economics in the early post-medieval period. All examples with significant surviving archaeological remains are considered to be of national importance.

The earthwork remains of the late 16th century house at Newton are well preserved and, together with the 18th century plan of the site, contribute towards our understanding of the former appearance of this relatively high status residence. The surviving earthwork and buried evidence, together with historical documents, will provide a clear picture of the setting of the house. Paths, wall foundations and other features will survive as buried remains within the area of the courtyards, whilst the gardens themselves will retain archaeological and paleo-botanical evidence for borders, parterres and other elements of their planting and design, thus making an important contribution to our understanding of both this garden and of 16th and 17th century gardens in general.

The dovecote at Newton is a good example of this class of monument and retains many of its original features, including typically small doorways, high window openings, louvres (turret-like structures on the roof) and internal nesting boxes. The presence of decoration, in the form of trefoil emblems, on the eaves of the building, illustrate the prestige and decorative value which was often associated with the construction of dovecotes between 1650 and the mid- to late 18th century.


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


The monument is situated to the south east of the village of Newton on the north side of the River Ise. It includes the earthwork and buried remains of a late 16th century house and gardens and a dovecote which is Listed Grade I.

The house of the Tresham family, who occupied the site from at least 1539 until the mid-17th century, was built in the late 16th or early 17th century and enlarged by Sir John Langham in c.1660. In 1715 it was known as Newton mansion, and an early 18th century plan provides evidence for the layout of both the house and its formal gardens. The house was demolished shortly after 1720 and the gardens abandoned. There are no above-ground remains of the house, which stood on a levelled terrace in the central part of the site, but buried features in this area will provide information about its internal plan.

To the north, east and south of the house site are a series of neatly cut, regular terraces and platforms which are considered to represent part of the formal gardens laid out around the house. These remains reflect the layout of the gardens as recorded in the surviving 18th century plan. To the east of the house site the north and east sides of what was once the Old Court can be traced, whilst to the south, the general outlines of the kitchen garden and a small ornamental pond are visible. Further gardens existed to the north west and included one of two kitchen gardens, walkways and the stable yard, but much of this area has since been modified by later quarrying. The foundations of one of the stable buildings, identified on the 18th century plan as the old malt house, are visible approximately 110m to the west of the house site, although its northern end has been truncated by quarrying. To the north east of the stable area, standing on a large platform, is a dovecote. It is a rectangular stone structure decorated with trefoil emblems on the eaves and is divided internally into two compartments, each of which contains approximately 1,000 nesting boxes.

Further earthworks are visible to the south of the house site and include a moated site, situated within a small area of woodland, and a sub-rectangular enclosure. The latter is bounded by a slight bank and an external ditch on all sides except at the south east corner where it has been cut by a former mill leat. The western end of the enclosure is considerably higher than elsewhere and two small platforms are visible here. The moated site is believed to be a garden feature associated with the house. Its ditches are waterfilled and approximately 1m deep.

All fence posts and an electricity pole are excluded from the scheduling, although 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: 21675

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, , An Inventory of Archaeological sites in central Northamptonshire, (1979), 113-15

End of official listing