Moat and fishpond at Wanswell Court


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016768

Date first listed: 10-Aug-1999


Ordnance survey map of Moat and fishpond at Wanswell Court
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This copy shows the entry on 19-Dec-2018 at 14:37:45.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Gloucestershire

District: Stroud (District Authority)

Parish: Hamfallow

National Grid Reference: SO 69029 01001, SO 69035 01136


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 moat at Wanswell Court survives in a relatively undisturbed condition, despite the presence of later buildings. Buried deposits on the island will include the remains of medieval structures, and will contain archaeological information relating to the the construction and subsequent occupation and use of the moated site. The fishpond also survives well. Fishponds were of considerable importance during the medieval period as they provided a good source of protein during the winter months when fresh meat was unavailable. They are usually associated with manorial, monastic or royal residences and provide a good indication of the status of its builders. The fishpond to the north of the moat will therefore provide important information about the status and economy of the moated site. Within the moat and fishpond, waterlogged deposits are expected to have preserved archaeological remains relating to the occupation and use of the site, along with organic material which will provide information about the economy of the site and the local environment during the medieval period. The proximity of the moated site to Berkeley Castle and the likely continuity of occupation at the site place it at the forefront of research into medieval settlement and occupation in Gloucestershire.


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


The monument includes a moat and fishpond, within two areas of protection sited on a gentle south facing slope 2.2kms north of the castle at Berkeley. It comprises a sub-rectangular moat of unusually large size enclosing a late medieval manor house, with a large fishpond immediately to the north. The moat is 74m wide at its widest point in the south west corner, and 9m at its narrowest, measuring between 1.5m and 2m in depth. The moat surrounds an island measuring 106m north-south and 56m east-west. At the southern end of the moated site there is evidence for an external bank rising about 0.5m above the land to the south, along with some revetting of the southern side of the moat consisting of stone blocks. The fishpond to the north of the moated site is roughly triangular, measuring 140m north-south with a maximum width of 42m and a depth of between 2m and 3m. The moat was created by damming a stream flowing from Holywell Spring immediately to the north of the site. The stream flowed into the moat through its north west corner, and the western arm is exceptionally wide, and is thought possibly to have been used as an additional fishpond. The unusual shape of the moat was devised in order to take advantage of the topography of the area, as the southern arm was created by the construction of a long bank or dam which holds the water in a natural depression. The northern and eastern arms of the moat are, by comparison, relatively narrow. At present there are two causeways, one each across the western and eastern arms of the moat, with stone bridges set opposite each other immediately to the south of the present house. The large area in front of the house would have contained ranges of lodgings, stables and service buildings, for which there is no visible evidence above ground, although they are expected to survive as buried features. A house is believed to have stood on the island from before 1256, when a licence was granted for a chapel to be erected at Wanswell. The core of the existing manor house,which is a Listed Building Grade I, and which stands at the northern end of the island, is a hall house of around 1450-1460 with additions of early 16th and early 17th century date. A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are the main house and its extension to the east, the two surviving service buildings to the south of the house, the two stone-built causeways, all concrete standing areas to the south of the main house, the concrete and gravel surface of the drive and parking area, all post and wire fences, all wooden post fences, brick built raised flower beds, all brick and stone walls, wooden and metal gates and stiles, although the ground beneath all these features is, however, included.

MAP EXTRACT 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.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 32336

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Heward, J, Williams, M, Yarhan, V, Wanswell Court Farm, Hamfallow: Historic Building Report, (1990), 1-2
Heward, J, Williams, M, Yarhan, V, Wanswell Court Farm, Hamfallow: Historic Building Report, (1990), 1-2
Cooke, J H, 'Trans. Bristol and Glos. Arch. Society' in Wanswell Court And iIs Occupants For Seven Centuries, (1881), 310-323
Cooke, J H, 'Trans. Bristol and Glos. Arch. Society' in Wanswell Court And iIs Occupants For Seven Centuries, (1881), 310-323

End of official listing