Whitley Thorpe moated Templar grange site, 600m north west of Fulham House


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


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

North Yorkshire
Selby (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SE 55503 20513

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.

Around 6000 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. The majority of moated sites served as prestigious aristocratic and seigniorial residences with the provision of a moat intended as a status symbol rather than a practical military defence. The peak period of moat building was between about 1250 and 1350 and by far the greatest concentration lies in the central and eastern parts of England. However moated sites were built throughout the medieval period, and are widely scattered throughout England, exhibiting a wide variety of forms, sizes and uses. 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 tradition of constructing and using fishponds started in the early medieval period and peaked in the 12th century. They typically belonged to the wealthier sectors of society and were prized for providing a year round supply of fresh protein. Smaller ponds were constructed to breed and cultivate fish, with larger ponds used to store adult fish. Moats also often fulfilled this latter function. Fishponds are important for providing evidence of site economy. Whitley Thorpe moated grange is a well preserved example. Its importance is further heightened by its rarity in being associated with that of the Knights Templars.


The monument includes the earthworks of a small moated site with a set of associated fishponds, sited on the south side of a slight gravel ridge which rises a few metres above the surrounding land. The site has been identified as a grange, or outlying farm, of Whitley Manor which was held by the Knights Templar from before 1248. The Templars were one of the international military monastic orders established to protect pilgrims travelling to Jerusalem. In 1308 the whole order was imprisoned under heresy, idolatry and other charges brought by Pope Clement V and Philip IV of France. Although evidence against the knights proved too flimsy to secure conviction the order was suppressed by papal decree in 1312. In 1308 the preceptor (leader of the house) at Whitley was Robert de Langton and the manor was valued at over one hundred and thirty pounds. Unlike a number of Templar manors, Whitley did not pass to the rival order of Knights Hospitallers, and the site is believed to have passed into disuse. The monument includes a small, roughly square moated island, approximately 30m across, surrounded by a dried up and heavily silted, but still well defined, moat ditch. Along the eastern edge of the island there is evidence of a wall line of dressed stone, and a number of displaced limestone blocks survive to the west of the moat. Surrounding the outside of the moat ditch there is a low broad bank which is considered to have resulted from material dredged from the moat during maintenance. On the eastern side this lies under the hedge line forming the field boundary. Access to the island appears to have been over a causeway that crosses the mid-point of the northern moat arm. To the east of the line of this causeway, north of the moat, there lies the now dry earthwork depression of a small fishpond, with two further dried up ponds lying to the west of the moat. Abutting the bank on the south side of the moat there are the pronounced remains of ridge and furrow running NNE to SSW. This is truncated by the field boundary and arable field to the south. All 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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Knowles, D , Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales, (1971), indexed
Le Patourel, H.E J, 'Monograph Series No 5' in The Moated Sites of Yorkshire, (1973), indexed
Le Patourel, H.E J, 'Monograph Series No 5' in The Moated Sites of Yorkshire, (1973), 129


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

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