Moated site and Civil War defences at Strensham Castle
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1016939
Date first listed: 30-Jun-1969
Date of most recent amendment: 07-Jul-1999
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Wychavon (District Authority)
National Grid Reference: SO 90483 40493
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 of Strensham Castle is a well-preserved example of a complex medieval manorial moat incorporating rare Civil War defensive earthwork features. The documentary evidence for the site provides an insight into the concerns and lifestyle of its owners. The undisturbed nature of the moat island will preserve evidence of former structures, including both domestic and ancillary buildings and their associated occupation levels. These remains will illustrate the nature of use of the site and the lifestyle of its inhabitants in addition to evidence which will facilitate the dating of construction and subsequent periods of use. The moat ditches can be expected to preserve earlier deposits including evidence for their construction and any alterations during their active history. In addition, the waterlogged nature of the site will preserve environmental information relating to the climate, ecosystem and landscape in which it was set. English Civil War fieldworks are earthworks which were raised during military operations between 1642 and 1645 to provide temporary protection for infantry or to act as gun emplacements. The earthworks, which may have been reinforced with revetting and palisades, consisted of banks and ditches and varied in complexity from simple breastworks to complex systems of banks and interconnected trenches. They can be recognised today as surviving earthworks or as crop or soil marks on aerial photographs. The circumstances and cost of their construction may be referred to in contemporary historical documents. Fieldworks are recorded widely throughout England with concentrations in the main areas of Civil War campaigning. Those with a defensive function were often sited to protect settlements or their approaches. Those with an offensive function were designed to dominate defensive positions and to contain the besieged areas. There are some 150 surviving examples of fieldworks recorded nationally. The Civil War defences at Strensham Castle including the rampart and the outer moat ditch provide information about the status and military position of the Civil War owner, Sir William Russell, in addition to being a rare survival of a fortified Civil War garrison. Modification and reuse of the moated site during the Civil War demonstrates its continuing importance as a defensive feature in the landscape.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
The monument includes the buried and earthwork remains of the moated site and
Civil War defences at Strensham Castle. It is situated at Lower Strensham,
approximately 600m west of Strensham church which is itself situated on high
ground overlooking the River Avon, 300m to the east.
The site consists of two concentric square moats surrounding a central island
and was the site of a house built by Sir John Russell who obtained a licence
to crenellate in 1388. During the Civil War it was the property of Sir William
Russell, Royalist and Governor of Worcester, and the outer moat ditch and
intermediate ramparts were built around the existing medieval defences during
this period. The site was garrisoned with 16 troops of cavalry until it was
slighted after the fall of Worcester in 1646. Sir William Russell received
special treatment after the fall of Worcester, being excepted from the
surrender treaty by the Parliamentarian Major-General Rainsborough and
Immediately to the west of the moat is a Victorian farm which is believed to
occupy the site of the medieval gateway to the moated site and which may have
contained an oratory that James Russell was licenced to build in 1288. The
survival of these features is uncertain, however, and this area is not
therefore included in the scheduling. The medieval house which once occupied
the moat island is believed to have been destroyed in the Civil War slighting.
The outer moat ditch, which is water-filled and approximately 10m wide by 1m
to 2m deep, is fed in its north east corner by a leat from a stream which runs
parallel with the eastern arm of the moat. There is an external bank 4m to 6m
wide and 1m to 2m high between the stream and the eastern arm of the moat. The
stream also fed a pond at the south east corner of the moat. This pond is no
longer visible, having been infilled, and is therefore not included in the
scheduling. The outer moat encloses an area of approximately 90m by 78m.
Separating the outer from inner moat is a substantial rampart which is
approximately 4m higher than both the surrounding land and the inner moat.
This rampart is approximately 10m wide at its corners and is built on a bank
which is approximately 0.5m higher than the water level of the outer moat. The
rampart rises from this platform and incorporates an artillery emplacement
situated on a projecting bastion at each of its four corners. The inner moat
is believed to be filled by surface water and is approximately 8m to 10m wide
by 2m deep.
Access to the island is via a causeway in the centre of the western arm which
crosses both ditches and is approximately 15m wide. There is some evidence of
former bridge abutments over the outer ditch. The island measures
approximately 25m by 35m and is approximately 2m higher than the prevailing
ground level. It is undulating with a platform approximately 15m by 10m and
0.2m to 0.5m high in its south eastern corner, possibly indicating the site of
the medieval house.
All modern fencing is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground
beneath it 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: 31947
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County, (1924), 202,433
Atkins, M, The Civil War In Worcestershire, (1995), various
Clapham, A W, Montgomerie, D H, The Victoria History of the County, (1924), 202,431
SMR Cards, (1960)
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