Moated monastic grange and fishpond complex at Middle Battenhall Farm, 450m north of Upper Battenhall Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017310

Date first listed: 05-Dec-1977

Date of most recent amendment: 03-Apr-2001


Ordnance survey map of Moated monastic grange and fishpond complex at Middle Battenhall Farm, 450m north of Upper Battenhall Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Worcestershire

District: Worcester (District Authority)

County: Worcestershire

District: Worcester (District Authority)

Parish: St. Peter the Great County

National Grid Reference: SO 86854 53061


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

Reasons for Designation

A monastic grange was a farm owned and run by a monastic community and independent of the secular manorial system of communal agriculture and servile labour. The function of granges was to provide food and raw materials for consumption within the parent monastic house itself, and also to provide surpluses for sale for profit. The first monastic granges appeared in the 12th century but they continued to be constructed and used until the Dissolution. This system of agriculture was pioneered by the Cistercian order but was soon imitated by other orders. Some granges were worked by resident lay-brothers (secular workers) of the order but others were staffed by non-resident labourers. The majority of granges practised a mixed economy but some were specialist in their function. Five types of grange are known: agrarian farms, bercaries (sheep farms), vaccaries (cattle ranches), horse studs and industrial complexes. A monastery might have more than one grange and the wealthiest houses had many. Frequently a grange was established on lands immediately adjacent to the monastery, this being known as the home grange. Other granges, however, could be found wherever the monastic site held lands. On occasion these could be located at some considerable distance from the parent monastery. Granges are broadly comparable with contemporary secular farms although the wealth of the parent house was frequently reflected in the size of the grange and the layout and architectural embellishment of the buildings. Additionally, because of their monastic connection, granges tend to be much better documented than their secular counterparts. No region was without monastic granges. The exact number of sites which originally existed is not precisely known but can be estimated, on the basis of numbers of monastic sites, at several thousand. Of these, however, only a small percentage can be accurately located on the ground today. Of this group of identifiable sites, continued intensive use of many has destroyed much of the evidence of archaeological remains. In view of the importance of granges to medieval rural and monastic life, all sites exhibiting good archaeological survival are identified as nationally important.

The moated grange at Middle Battenhall Farm survives well. The island preserves medieval ridge and furrow cultivation remains which may be expected to overlie evidence of former structures, including both domestic and ancillary buildings and their associated occupation levels. These remains illustrate the nature of use of the site and the lifestyle of its inhabitants in addition to providing evidence which will facilitate the dating of the construction and subsequent periods of use of the moated site.

The moat is expected to preserve earlier deposits including evidence of its construction and any alterations during its active history.

Fishponds are artificially created pools of slow moving fresh water constructed for the purpose of breeding and storing fish in order to provide a consistent and sustainable supply of food. The tradition of constructing and using fishponds began in the medieval period and reached a peak of popularity in the 12th century. Fishponds were often grouped together, either clustered or in line, and joined by leats; each pond being stocked with a different age or species of fish, which could be transferred to other bodies of water such as moats. They were largely the province of the wealthier sectors of society, and are considered important as a source of information concerning the economy of various classes of medieval settlements and institutions.

The fishponds at Middle Battenhall Farm form an integral part of the monastic grange and represent an important component of the medieval landscape in addition to providing a complimentary source of information about the economy and subsistence of the moats inhabitants. In addition, the site was the one of the foremost ecclesiastical fish producing estates in the county, being the possession of the Cathedral Priory of Worcester.

Although dry, the fishponds at Middle Battenhall are an exceptionally well preserved and extensive survival of a complex system and are expected to preserve evidence of their construction and use in addition to information regarding their management routine.

The survival of Prior Moores fishery records are a rare survival which, in conjunction with the high level of survival at Middle Battenhall, offer an unusual opportunity to compare documentary and archaeological evidence.


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


The monument includes the buried and earthwork remains of the known extent of the moated grange, fishpond complex and associated water control features of the medieval monastic grange at Middle Battenhall Farm. The monument occupies a shallow valley located approximately 3km to the south east of the Cathedral Priory of Worcester, of which it was a possession. The site consists of a moat and a system of four ponds with associated water control features which originally formed part of a larger monastic deer park.

The moated site is surrounded on all sides by the three major fishponds, the south western pond taking the place of a moat arm to the west and south sides of the island which measures approximately 100m by 75m. The north and east arms of the moat measure approximately 10m wide by up to 5m deep and slight earthworks at the centre of the east arm may indicate the site of the original entrance. Later ridge and furrow cultivation remains survive of the moat island.

The south western pond measures approximately 200m east-west by 180m north- south with the moated site occupying the north eastern corner. The pond was constructed with two levels to allow variation in the depth of water. The upper level of the pond is formed by two platforms, one in the south and one in the north west. The pond is retained on its southern side by a 1m high bank which runs along the edge of the brook, and on its west side by a substantial dam measuring up to 5m high by up to 15m wide. The construction of the railway line in the 19th century has removed any evidence for additional ponds to the west of this bank.

A causeway measuring up to 4m wide by 3m high defines the northern edge of the pond and forms the outer bank of the northern arm of the moat. This causeway runs eastward for approximately 130m, before turning and widening to the south and forming the outer bank of the eastern moat arm and the north western bank of the south eastern fishpond, at which point it measures approximately 30m by 85m. A second causeway 3m high by 2m wide runs southwards from its south eastern corner to connect with the southern bank by the stream. This forms the dividing bank between the two southern ponds.

The south eastern pond is sub-rectangular and is also on two levels. The lower level is `L' shaped and measures approximately 80m from north to south by 120m west to east. An 80m by 40m platform which forms the northern and north eastern banks of the lower level forms the upper level of this pond, its northern bank being approximately 1.5m high and located along the north and east of the platform. This platform and the land immediately to its east also contains ridge and furrow cultivation remains. A rectangular earthwork measuring approximately 30m by 15m in the bottom of this pond adjacent to the northern platform is believed to be the remains of a building, although it is unclear whether this building was contemporary with the grange or a post- Dissolution feature.

To the north of the moated site is the third fishpond which is `L' shaped and runs north to south and east to west. This pond measures approximately 60m north to south by 100m east to west and has a 1m high platform to allow variation in water level forming the northern bank of the east-west arm. The pond is retained on the south, west, and east by 2m high banks. The northern area of this pond has been greatly damaged by the enlargement of a modern pond which occupied its north western corner.

Running for approximately 130m in a north easterly direction from the north eastern corner of the modern pond are the remains of what is believed to be a fourth pond. This pond, which measures approximately 20m wide, is retained to the north west and south east by 0.5m high banks, that to the north west forming a low causeway through the pond towards the marl pit to the north east. Although now mostly dry, it retains a water-filled area of approximately 20m by 10m. The marl pit 100m to the north east is not included in the scheduling.

The area between the south eastern pond and the fourth pond is generally level although it contains a number of earthworks which are believed to represent further water control features such as leats.

All modern fencing is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath 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: 31945

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Fagan, E, The Journal of Prior William Moore, (1914)
Fagan, E, The Journal of Prior William Moore, (1914)
Mundy, C , Woodiwiss, S, Excavation at Middle Battenhall Farm, (1987)
Raven, A, The Victoria History of the County, (1913), 514-5
Aston, M, 'Medieval fish, fisheries, and fishponds in England' in Worcestershire Fishponds, , Vol. 182, (1988)
Aston, M, Bond, C J, 'BAR British Series' in Medieval Fish, Fisheries and Fishponds in England, , Vol. 182, (1988), 435-455
Hickling, C, 'Medieval Archaeology' in Prior Moore's Fishponds, , Vol. XV, (1971), 118-23
HBMC Schedule, (1988)

End of official listing