Nucleated medieval settlement east of Waldridge Manor


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Date first listed:
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Ordnance survey map of Nucleated medieval settlement east of Waldridge Manor
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Aylesbury Vale (District Authority)
Dinton-with-Ford and Upton
Wycombe (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SP 78465 07215

Reasons for Designation

Medieval rural settlements in England were marked by great regional diversity in form, size and type, and the protection of their archaeological remains needs to take these differences into account. To do this, England has been divided into three broad Provinces on the basis of each area's distinctive mixture of nucleated and dispersed settlements. These can be further divided into sub-Provinces and local regions, possessing characteristics which have gradually evolved during the past 1500 years or more. This monument lies in the Inner Midlands sub-Province of the Central Province, an area characterised by large numbers of nucleated settlements, both surviving and deserted, many of which are thought to have been established in Anglo-Saxon times. Most of the sub-Province's thinly scattered dispersed settlements were created in post-medieval times, but some of the local regions are characterised by higher proportions of dispersed dwellings and hamlets, which probably mark the patchy survival of older landscapes.

The site of the medieval village near Waldridge Manor is clearly defined by an area of earthworks in which evidence for the nature of the settlement remains very well preserved. The crofts and building platforms will contain buried evidence for houses, barns and other structures, accompanied by a range of features such a boundaries, refuse pits and drainage channels. Artefacts found in association with these features will provide insights into the date and duration of occupation, the lifestyle of the inhabitants and the economy of the settlement. Environmental evidence may also be recovered, illustrating the appearance of the landscape in which the settlement was established and providing further information about its agricultural regime.

The South Midlands local region is large, and capable of further subdivision. Strongly banded from south west to north east, it comprises a broad succession of clay vales and limestone or marlstone ridges, complicated by local drifts which create many subtle variations in terrain. The region is in general dominated by nucleated villages of medieval origin, with isolated farmsteads, mostly of post-medieval date, set in the spaces between them. Depopulated village sites are common, and moated sites are present on the claylands.

Many modern villages in the local region have medieval origins, although in most cases later development has obscured much of the archaeological evidence for earlier settlement. Depopulated examples, such as that to the east of Waldridge Manor, provide valuable opportunities to study the nature of these earlier communities and, in areas such as the Vale of Aylesbury, where the abandoned settlements are comparatively common, opportunities to examine and compare the reasons for their failure.


The monument includes the buried and visible remains of a small medieval village situated within the Vale of Aylesbury between the modern villages Owlswick and Ford, some 4km to the north west of Princes Risborough and the Chiltern Escarpment.

The settlement earthworks are largely contained within a pasture of approximately 14ha located between Waldridge Manor and the Ford to Meadle road to the east. The central feature of the settlement is the main street, a broad hollow way which traverses the gentle north facing slope across the centre of the field before turning to the south and running parallel with Stockwell Lane. The area contained within the angle of the hollow way (some 5.5ha) is divided into an irregular pattern of rectangular enclosures separated by shallow ditches and worn trackways. The majority of these enclosures follow a north east-south west alignment and are considered to represent stock enclosures and paddocks, although the site of at least one former building is marked by a more pronounced enclosure set within the bend in the hollow way. The ditch, or moat, surrounding this small enclosure measures up to 8m in width and 1.8m in depth, and the slightly raised and embanked interior contains minor undulations believed to indicate the presence of buried structural remains. Other buildings may be represented by five or six smaller and less distinct enclosures and terraces arranged along the northern side of the main hollow way to the south of the moated site, although evidence for habitation is more clearly defined on the opposite side of this street. Four crofts (enclosures which contained buildings, working areas and paddocks) can be identified on this side, the structures represented by low platforms flanking the street frontage.

Low undulations, representing the continuation of the settlement area, can be identified to the south of the main pasture, within the narrow area of improved grassland to either side of the driveway to Waldridge Manor. This however, appears to coincide with the southern limit of habitation, as aerial photography has shown only evidence of the medieval open field system continuing southwards in the presently cultivated fields. From the air, this system, a patchwork of furlongs of ridge and furrow cultivation, can also be identified extending north east and south east from the settlement site, and a partial furlong (not included in the scheduling) remains visible on the ground to the north west. A small area of surviving ridge and furrow in the pasture to the north east of the hollow way is of particular interest and is included in the scheduling. The earthworks in this area are thought to be a remnant from an early furlong, which aerial photography has shown to have been isolated by the final development of the field pattern to the north. The denuded appearance of cultivation earthworks in this area may have resulted from the conversion to pasture during the lifetime of the settlement, and this possibility is supported by traces of enclosures superimposed over the pattern of ridges, or lands.

The settlement is poorly documented, although the history of the manor to which it was attached is better recorded. The manor of Waldridge is known to have been held by two sokemen (free tenants) prior to the Norman Conquest, one of whom owed allegiance to Alveva, the sister of Earl Harold. After the Conquest the land was granted to the Bishop of Bayeux, and held throughout the medieval period by a number of under tenants, beginning with the bishop's steward and continuing under the later overlordship of the Munchesney family and the Earls of Pembroke.

The date and cause of the settlement's demise is similarly obscure, although it may have been related to the construction of Upper Waldridge Farm (now Waldridge Manor) in the early 17th century. By the time William Serjeant died - seised of the capital messuage (the principal dwelling of the manor) in 1615 the settlement may have already declined, perhaps as a result of the expansion of sheep farming which caused depopulation in many other Aylesbury Vale settlements during the previous century. The last (and only) record of property rents from the manorial lands dates from 1622.

All fences, gates, horse jumps and water troughs are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these 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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Beresford, M, Lost Villages of England, (1983), 342
Beresford, MW, Hurst, JG, Deserted Medieval Villages , (1971), 184
Clinch, G, The Victoria History of the County of Buckinghamshire, (1908), 277-8
Clinch, G, The Victoria History of the County of Buckinghamshire, (1908), 277-78
Lipscomb, , History and Topography of Bucks, (1847), 166
AM7 Bucks Monument 70, Deserted Village (site of) near Upper Waldridge Farm, (1978)
CAO's comments based on CUCAP APs, Farley, M, 0327, (1975)
Oblique monochrome, CUCAP, BSC-152, (1974)
Oblique monochrome, CUCAP, BSC-152, (1975)
Oblique monochrome, St Joseph, J K S (CUCAP), NY 55-59, (1955)
Oblique monochrome, St Joseph, J K S (CUCAP), PA 56, (1956)
Oblique monochrome, St Joseph, J. K. S., NY 55-59, (1954)
Oblique monochrome, St Joseph, J. K. S., PA-56, (1955)
Ordnance Survey surveyor's report - no plan, BRS, SP 70 NE 1, (1970)
RCHME, Inventory of the Historic Monuments in Buckinghamshire, (1912)
RCHME, Inventory of the Historic Monuments in Buckinghamshire, (1912)
sketch based on AP info & fieldwork, Went, D, SM:29414 Nucleated medieval settlement east of Waldridge Manor, (1997)
SMR: records of site visits, Pike, A, 0327 (House platforms, Medieval village, moated site, pottery), (1978)
Waldridge (Buckinghamshire 642/59), Wrathmell, S, Monuments Protection Programme Database (Medieval Settlements), Buckinghamshire, (1995)
Wrathmell, S, Class Definition for Medieval Dispersed Settlements, (1995)


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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