Earthwork remains of a medieval hall, chapel and settlement, 290m south east of Capesthorne Hall
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
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This copy shows the entry on 22-Oct-2019 at 12:35:19.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Cheshire East (Unitary Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- SJ 84257 72600
Reasons for Designation
Medieval rural settlements in England were marked by great regional diversity
in form, size and type, and the protection of their archaeological remains
needs to take these differences into account. To do this, England has been
divided into three broad Provinces on the basis of each area's distinctive
mixture of nucleated and dispersed settlements. These can be further divided
into sub-Provinces and local regions, possessing characteristics which have
gradually evolved during the past 1500 years or more.
This monument lies in the Cheshire Plain sub-Province of the Northern and
Western Province, a gently rolling plain of red marl covered by ice-carried
clays, sands and gravels. It is diversified by occasional sandstone
escarpments, notably the Central Cheshire Ridge east of the Dee valley. It has
lower densities of nucleated settlements than surrounding areas, and high
concentrations of dispersed farmsteads and small hamlets. In the Wirral and
the lower Dee and Weaver valleys, the settlement mix is different, with low
and medium densities of dispersed farmsteads intermixed with more frequent
villages. Domesday Book records a thin scatter of settlement in the Wirral,
the Dee lowlands and the central and southern plain in 1086, with much
Medieval villages were organised agricultural communities, sited at the centre of a parish or township, that shared resources such as arable land, meadow and woodland. Village plans varied enormously, but when they survive as earthworks their most distinguishing features include roads and minor tracks, platforms on which stood houses and other buildings such as barns, enclosed crofts and small enclosed paddocks. They frequently included the parish church or parochial chapel within their boundaries, and as part of the manorial system most villages included one or more manorial centres which may also survive as visible remains as well as below ground deposits. In the central province of England, villages were the most distinctive aspect of medieval life, and their archaeological remains are one of the most important sources of our understanding about rural life in the five or more centuries after the Norman Conquest. Medieval villages were supported by a communal system of agriculture based on large unenclosed open arable fields. These large fields were subdivided into strips (known as lands) which were allocated to individual tenants. The cultivation of these srips with heavy ploughs pulled by teams of oxen produced long wide ridges and the resultant `ridge and furrow' where it survives is the most obvious physical indication of the open field system. Individual strips or lands were laid out in groups known as furlongs defined by terminal headlands at the plough turning points and lateral grass balks. Furlongs were in turn grouped into large open fields. Well-preserved ridge and furrow, especially in its original context adjacent to village earthworks, is both an important source of information about medieval agrarian life and a distinctive contribution to the character of the historic landscape. It is usually now covered by the hedges and walls of subsequent field enclosure. The village of Capesthorne with its medieval hall and parochial chapel was at the heart of the now extinguished parish of Capesthorne. The earthwork remains will retain important information about the organisation of the manorial system in this part of Cheshire. In particular, the foundations of the old hall and the chapel will be traceable below the ground, enabling the buildings to be further evaluated.
The monument includes the earthwork remains of a medieval hall, a parochial
chapel and an abandoned medieval settlement preserved in the landscaped
grounds of the present Capesthorne Hall.
Capesthorne is recorded as Copestor in the Domesday Book and belonged to the
Earl of Chester. The Capesthorne family held the manor until 1386 when it
passed to the Ward family. The Wards commissioned a new hall to be built on
the present site of Capesthorne Hall in 1722 and the old hall was demolished.
This building stood 290m east of the present hall. Above it and 25m to the
north was the parochial chapel, also demolished when a new chapel was built
within the new hall complex.
The platform for the chapel survives as an earthwork about 20m by 6m,
orientated east-west and has a 20th century memorial pillar erected on it. To
the south east of the chapel there are extensive earthworks on the site of the
old hall. These are difficult to interpret but confirm the former existence of
a large building. To the east of these remains are the house platforms (tofts)
and enclosures (crofts) of about seven medieval houses running down the slope
flanking a hollow way. This led southwards following a former alignment of
the A34 road. The present A34 may have been diverted past the medieval hall
entrance when the present hall was built.
To the west of the old hall site there is an earthwork bank which leads from
the carriage turn in front of the present hall towards the site of the older
hall. This was marked as a driveway to the house in 1827. It seems that
Blore, who was commissioned to redesign the hall in 1837, altered the entrance
drive to conform to a more romantic scheme for the grounds. Between this bank
and the present driveway there are a number of earthwork traces of a field
system. These are degraded but are the remains of the field system of the
The pump and the post and wire fence which defines the eastern side of the
site, are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is
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:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Morgan, P (ed), Domesday Book, (1976), fol 1.3
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing