Manorial complex including the site of Norton Manor House, chapel, dovecote, moat, fishponds, field system and mill, 600m south west of Wentbank House


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016945

Date first listed: 24-Sep-1999


Ordnance survey map of Manorial complex including the site of Norton Manor House, chapel, dovecote, moat, fishponds, field system and mill, 600m south west of Wentbank House
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Doncaster (Metropolitan Authority)

Parish: Norton

County: North Yorkshire

District: Selby (District Authority)

Parish: Walden Stubbs

National Grid Reference: SE 54410 15906


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

Reasons for Designation

Manorial centres were important foci of medieval rural life. Local agricultural and village life was normally closely regulated by the lord of the manor and thus the inhabitants of these sites had a central interest in many aspects of rural life. Manorial sites could take many forms but the key focus was the manor house which was often an elaborate building reflecting the importance of the manorial lord. In addition to the manor house the complex would have included stables and other buildings, including store rooms for agricultural and other produce. Dovecotes used to keep doves as a food source were also common as were fishponds. A chapel also existed at many sites either within a room of the main manorial building or as a separate building. Chantry chapels were built and maintained by endowment and were established for the singing of masses for the soul of the founder. Mills were also a sign of status, and an important form of income to the lord of the manor who usually leased the mill and its lands to the miller. In many areas of the country manorial complexes were located within a moat, the moat further indicating the importance of the site but also providing an element of defence. Elsewhere the manorial centre was located within a central complex which included both earthwork and stone defences. Manorial complexes provide a major insight into medieval life and all well preserved examples are nationally important. The earthwork and buried remains of the manorial complex known as Norton Priory are particularly well preserved and retain significant archaeological deposits. The diversity of the archaeological remains compliment the extensive documentary evidence and together these provide a rare historical sequence for the manor and an insight into its wealth and importance. Taken as a whole the manorial complex at Norton Priory will add greatly to our understanding of the manor and its social and economic status in the wider medieval, rural landscape.


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


The monument includes the earthworks and buried remains of the medieval manorial complex of Norton. It is situated on the south bank of the River Went, north of the nucleated medieval settlement of Norton. Norton was first mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 where it is recorded that it was owned by Ilbert de Laci. It is documented that the whole manor was one league in length (approximately 4.8km), 11 furlongs in breadth and was worth a total of 70 shillings. In total, there was enough land for eight ploughs, with two of them under the direct control of the lord of the manor. There was also a mill with an annual value of five shillings. In the Valor Ecclesiasticus of 1535 a chantry chapel is recorded at Norton for the families of the Foliots and Hastings. The endowment included a house, 80 acres of arable land and closes called Bustard, Prioryard and Housegarth, which had an annual value of five pounds. The chapel is believed to have been situated at the top of Priory Road or Hall Lane in the area known as Priory Garth. This part of the parish is now known as Norton Priory. A number of title deeds dating to the 17th century document the sale and lease of lands within the manor of Norton. A document dating to 1711 which details the marriage settlement between William Ramsden (the lord of the manor) and Mary Robinson provides a lot of information about the Manor House, known as Norton Hall, and associated holdings. Included in the estate were barns, stables, kilns, a dovecote, orchards, gardens, courtyards and two water corn mills. On the death of Mary Ramsden in 1743 the land passed to the Master and Fellows of St Catharine's College, Cambridge who, in 1756 obtained a private Act of Parliament empowering it to pull down Norton Hall, at that time described as a ruinous edifice with 35 rooms, and to use the materials to build a farmhouse. Two farms and a bungalow now occupy the site of the hall and the chapel. The walled gardens which were associated with the later phases of the hall are still standing between the two farms. The monument survives as a series of earthworks and buried remains which extend from east to west along the south bank of the River Went. The medieval manor house is understood to lie beneath the hall, which was described in the 18th century, and despite later disturbance medieval remains are likely to survive beneath the present farm buildings. Immediately east of Norton Priory Farm are the earthwork remains of a moat. A sub-rectangular platform measuring approximately 60m by 50m is completely enclosed by a `U' shaped ditch. The south and west arms of the moat are visible as slight depressions but those on the north and east sides are very distinct, surviving up to a depth of 2m. The north east corner of the moat opens out into a mill stream. This would have allowed the stream to feed the moat and for the moat to act as an overflow channel in times of heavy rainfall. Farm buildings overlie the south west corner of the moat. Approximately 150m north west of the moated site are a series of three sub-rectangular fishponds. These run in a line from east to west approximately 5m south of the mill stream. The largest, at the eastern end, measures approximately 60m by 20m and survives to a depth of 2m. The central pond measures about 40m by 20m and is separated from both the western and eastern pond by about 10m. The third pond lies on a south east to north west axis and is approximately 24m long. In the field to the north of the fishponds but south of the river is another series of clearly defined earthworks. Running along the edge of both the river and the mill stream are low banks which survive to a height of approximately 0.5m. These were probably constructed as water management features to reduce the risk of flooding in this area. Centred at SE 54471600 is a rectangular feature which is defined by low banks and which measures 17m north to south by 12m east to west. This is interpreted as the site of a medieval building with the banks representing the buried remains of walls. Approximately 9m to the west of the building platform are three sides of a second sub-rectangular feature which is defined by a 2m wide shallow ditch. The earthworks in this field are difficult to define on the ground as a result of subsidence caused by mineral extraction. Although this has caused some distortion of the earthworks the archaeological significance of the remains is clear. In the field centred at SE 54281590 are a series of earthworks which survive to a height of approximately 1m. These are a complex series of banks and ditches which form a roughly rectangular shaped area. The banks indicate the buried remains of walls but again, subsidence has made it difficult to define the precise layout of the archaeological deposits. Approximately 50m further west in this field are the slight earthwork and buried remains of a dovecote. The first edition Ordnance Survey map, which dates to 1854, clearly shows the site of the dovecote, which was still standing at this time. In the field to the north of that which contains the dovecote and to the north of the mill stream are a series of extensive earthworks. These represent significant archaeological remains, some of which appear to relate to water management features, but others may represent buried structural remains. To the west of the dovecote is the site of Priory Mill which, as it stands, is an early 19th century water powered corn mill. It is a Grade II Listed Building. Although many of the above ground features relate to the latest phase of construction the mill lies on the site of an earlier mill, which possibly correlates to a reference in the Domesday Book. Very distinct earthworks in the field to the north of Priory Mill indicate different phases of water management but the course of the mill race, the mill pond and the mill stream has been maintained. The physical relationship between the medieval fishponds, the moat, the mill and the mill stream indicates their original contemporaneity and interdependence. To the west of the mill building are the earthwork remains of the mill race and the standing remains of the mill race wall and sluice gate. The mill race has been partly infilled but is still visible as a slight depression. The mill race fed water from the river to the mill over a distance of approximately 400m. The mill race originally extended approximately 200m beyond the area of protection to the west but this area has been infilled and ploughed. Any archaeological deposits will therefore have been damaged or destroyed and so the area has not been included in the scheduling. The level of water reaching the mill was controlled by a sluice gate and an overflow channel which directs water from the north east corner of the mill race to the river. The grooved stone posts which would have held the sluice gate are still in place although these possibly relate to a later phase of use. Steep earthworks and walling at the eastern end of the mill race would have acted as a dam wall through which the water supply to the mill wheel was controlled with the use of another sluice gate. The dam wall is particularly overgrown with vegetation and its full extent difficult to determine because of the later construction of farm buildings. Once the water had passed through the wheel it would be directed back to the river via the tail race which is marked on the Ordnance Survey map as the Mill Stream. It is along this course, back to the river, that the water was reused as part of the water management of the fishponds and the moat. At the eastern end of the area of protection to the east of the moated site is another series of earthworks. The earthworks include a 10m wide ditch which survives to a depth of approximately 1m. The ditch runs from the eastern edge of the area of protection in a westerly direction and meets the tail race. The ditch is interpreted as a sunken track and as such would have led to a crossing point across the tail race and possibly also the river. To the south of the track and approximately 88m from its east end are a series of low banks which define a rectangular feature measuring approximately 30m by 15m and interpreted as the site of a medieval building, with the low banks representing the buried remains of walls. The building and its associated features front onto the sunken track which would have provided access to it. Between the site of the building and the moat are the remains of the medieval open field system. The surviving remains are visible as parts of two medieval furlongs (groups of lands or cultivation strips) marked by headlands. The cultivation strips collectively form ridge and furrow which is curved in the shape of an elongated reverse `S'. This shape developed over the years from the need to swing the plough team out at the end of a strip to enable it to turn and to continue ploughing in the opposite direction. The headlands survive to a height of 0.5m but the ridge and furrow is more degraded and slight in appearance. Norton Priory Farm, Priory Farm, Priory Garth, Priory Mill and associated buildings, all modern fences, track surfaces and feeding troughs are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all these buildings and 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: 29949

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Hunter, J, South Yorkshire , (1831), 473
Magilton, J, The Doncaster District, (1977), 60-62
Magilton, J, The Doncaster District, (1977), 61
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of York, (1912), 246
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of York, (1912), 246
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of York, (1912), 246
Archive Ref. VII/2a St. Cath. College, Private Act Of Parliament Relating To Norton Hall Yorkshire, (1757)
Held St Catharines College Cambridge, Marriage settlement between John Ramsden and Mary Robinson, (1711)

End of official listing