Thorpe in the Glebe medieval settlement, including church site and open field system


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017743

Date first listed: 17-Jan-1969

Date of most recent amendment: 23-Feb-1998


Ordnance survey map of Thorpe in the Glebe medieval settlement, including church site and open field system
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Nottinghamshire

District: Rushcliffe (District Authority)

Parish: Thorpe in the Glebe

National Grid Reference: SK 60774 25598


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

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 last 1500 years or more. This monument lies in the Trent sub-Province of the Central Province, where the broad Trent valley swings in a great arc across midland England. Underlain by heavy clays, it is given variety by superficial glacial and alluvial deposits. Although treated as a single sub-Province, it has many subtle variations. Generally, it is characterised by a great number of villages and hamlets which cluster thickly along scarp-foot and scarp-tail zones, locations suitable for exploiting the contrasting terrains. Throughout the sub-Province there are very low and extremely low densities of dispersed farmsteads, some of which are ancient, but most of which are 18th-century and later movement of farms out of earlier villages.

Medieval villages were organised agricultural communities, sited at the centre of a parish or township, that shared resources such as arable land, meadow and woodland. Village plans varied enormously, but when they survive as earthworks their most distinguishing features include roads and minor tracks, platforms on which stood houses and other buildings such as barns, enclosed crofts and small enclosed paddocks. They frequently include the parish church within their boundaries, and as part of the manorial system most villages include one or more manorial centres which may also survive as visible remains as well as below ground deposits. In the central province of England, villages were the most distinctive aspect of medieval life, and their archaeological remains are one of the most important sources of understanding about rural life in the five or more centuries following the Norman Conquest. Medieval villages were supported by a communal system of agriculture based on large, unenclosed open arable fields. These large fields were subdivided into strips (known as lands) which were allocated to individual tenants. The cultivation of these strips with heavy ploughs pulled by oxen-teams produced long, wide ridges and the resultant `ridge and furrow', where it survives is the most obvious physical indication of the open field system. Individual strips or lands were laid out in groups known as furlongs defined by terminal headlands at the plough turning points and lateral grass baulks. Furlongs were in turn grouped into large open fields. Well preserved ridge and furrow, especially in its original context adjacent to village earthworks, is both an important source of information about medieval agrarian life and a distinctive contribution to the character of the historic landscape. It is usually now covered by the hedges or walls of subsequent field enclosure. The earthwork remains of the deserted medieval settlement of Thorpe in the Glebe are particularly well preserved and retain significant archaeological deposits. The earthworks and archaeological survey evidence provide a clear picture of the village layout and how it fitted within the wider agricultural landscape. The extensive historical documentation provides evidence of the status of the settlement, how it was administered and ultimately clues to its desertion. Taken as a whole, the deserted settlement of Thorpe in the Glebe will add greatly to our knowledge and understanding of the development of medieval settlement in the area.


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


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of the medieval settlement of Thorpe in the Glebe. The monument is situated on a ridge running south east to north west approximately 80m above sea level with the ground falling away to the north and south. The earthworks surround Church Site Farm which is a Listed Grade II building. Thorpe in the Glebe is first documented in the Domesday Book of 1086 where it is recorded that `Torp' was in the ownership of the King and Roger de Busli. The total value of the land was given as four shillings. The largest part of the village, which was owned by the King, was a berewick (settlement which was physically separate from the village where the lord lived but was still governed as part of the manorial estate) of Upper Broughton. Towards the end of the 11th century the King granted his part of the land to Hugh de Avranches, Earl of Chester and it remained part of the Honour of Chester until the early 13th century, when a break in the male lineage resulted in the land being assigned to Hugh de Aubigny, Earl of Arundel. Roger de Busli granted his portion of the land to his knight Roger de Luvetot and it remained within his family until the middle of the 13th century. William de Luvetot, the third generation of the family in England, was the founder of Worksop Priory in 1120 and as a direct result of his grants to the priory Thorpe became a parish. In 1291 the church was valued at six pounds, thirteen shillings and four pennies. By 1310, and for the first time in its history, Thorpe had one major landowner and a single manor under the Mowbray, later Dukes of Norfolk. Tax returns of 1333/4 show the village was small and the parish not very wealthy. The Darley family, who were by this time the tenant lords of the manor, were the main tax payers within the village, contributing 38% of the total. It was around this time that the village became known as Thorpe in the Clottes or Glebe. Clottes and glebe both mean `clods' which is probably a reference to the poor boulder clay soils of the parish. In 1349 the Black Death took its toll on what was already a small village with 40% of the population falling victim. John de Darley died between 1348 and 1352 and after his death the manor was once again split into two. Half went to his daughter Margaret and the other half to a Nicholas Darley. Margaret married Robert Armstrong and by 1400 there were two major estates, the Armstrongs and the Darleys, the latter of which were resident at Thorpe Manor. In 1442 a decision to enclose and convert the Armstrong's land to sheep rearing was taken. The land was rented to a husbandmen William Repton at a rent of forty-six shillings and eight pennies. The remaining land was converted to enclosure in 1491 and by the early 16th century the Armstrong family became directly involved as flock masters and ceased to lease out Thorpe. On the evidence of timbers dated to 1535 it is possible that Church Site Farm was built by the Armstrong family at this time. At neither stage of enclosure is there mention of depopulation, which would suggest that the village was already deserted; certainly by the middle of the 17th century all that remained of the village was a single house and the church. The monument survives as a series of earthworks and buried remains. The village is laid out along a main street with enclosures or tofts along both sides. The street, aligned north west to south east, is evident as a broad gully measuring between 10m and 20m wide and can be traced for 430m. The line of the street is now marked by a hedgerow. A sunken track at the back of the enclosures defines the northern edge of the settlement. This runs almost parallel to the main street and would have provided a back lane for access to both the enclosures and the fields to the north. Behind some of the enclosures on the southern side of the main street is another sunken track. From the west this track runs eastwards for approximately 50m before it is truncated by a trackway running north to south. At its northern end this trackway links with the main street and, although it is now truncated, appears to have originally extended north of the main street to the back lane. From the main street the trackway runs south for 110m before turning east for approximately 50m. Here it is once again truncated by a north to south aligned trackway which runs from the main street south to the stream which marks the southern boundary of the monument. Another track running east to west is evident just west of Church Site Farm and, although it is not visible within the farm complex, it re-emerges in the south east corner of the monument. A total of 23 enclosures line both sides of the main street and are defined by banks which survive up to 1m in height. The size of the enclosures vary from approximately 20m by 30m to 40m by 40m but the form and layout of the internal features are very similar in the majority of cases, particularly in those north of the main street. Each enclosure contains at least one raised platform for a building or croft and a sunken yard which, taken as a whole, represents a small homestead. Eleven enclosures are evident on the north side of the main street, the largest of which is situated at the eastern end. This enclosure is separated from the road by a bank which also shelters the west and east sides. Within the enclosure are two rectangular platforms, the largest measuring approximately 30m by 18m adjacent to the west bank of the enclosure and the smaller one approximately 10m by 20m adjacent to the east bank. Between these is a sunken yard which opens on to the back lane. The smallest enclosure, towards the west end of the street, measures only 20m by 30m and contains two small platforms. Both platforms are less than 10m wide, the western one is approximately 12m long and the eastern one about 17m long. In general, the platforms stand 0.5m above the floor level of the yard and the enclosing banks 0.5m above the platforms. The fourth enclosure in from the eastern end of the monument is unusual in form. A single, central platform measuring 12m by 16m is associated with two sunken yards, one to the west opening northwards and the other to the east opening on to the main village street to the south. North of this enclosure is a bank 65m long running east to west. The bank stands to a height of 1.5m above the level of the sunken road. At its western end the bank joins another bank running north to south. This bank forms the eastern boundary of another enclosure but extends beyond the enclosure to the south, crossing the main street until it terminates at a deep pond. In effect this blocks the main village street and implies that either one end of the village had gone out of use by the time the bank was constructed or that the main route through the village was diverted, perhaps to one of the back lanes. To the south of the main street the layout of the enclosures is less regular and the internal features more varied in form and size. The westernmost enclosure measures approximately 30m by 16m with small platforms to the east and west and a sunken yard opening on to the main street. To the south of this enclosure is a large platform measuring 30m by 35m which reaches the sunken track to the south. A narrow gully partly separates this from the next enclosure to the east where a pond and a slight, oval depression are situated. These are believed to be post-medieval in date. The next enclosure to the east measures approximately 90m in length and 45m wide and is bounded on all sides by sunken tracks. This is divided into two long, narrow enclosures with a shared sunken yard to the north where two small rectangular platforms front on to the main street. Another square platform 15m by 15m is located in the south east corner. East of the north to south trackway is another long narrow enclosure with a sunken area at the northern end and another larger hollow at the southern end. The northern hollow may be the result of post-medieval quarrying but the southern hollow appears to be part of the original enclosure and may represent a pond. To the east of this enclosure is a large sunken area measuring approximately 40m by 25m which has in each of its four corners a rectangular platform. The two platforms to the north front onto the main village street; the two to the south are served by another sunken track which runs east to west. This track begins in the south west corner of the enclosure and runs eastwards for approximately 65m before it is truncated by the boundary fence of Church Site Farm. About half way along its length another track joins it running south for approximately 48m before turning east for another 20m where it is again truncated by the boundary fence of the farm. To the east of the boundary fence another platform is defined by a low bank but its internal characteristics are difficult to determine. Approximately 75m north of this enclosure and abutting the main village street is a large raised enclosure which stands about 1.5m above the street level. In the centre of this enclosure is a clearly defined rectangular platform which stands about 0.5m higher still. This is the site of the parish church and churchyard which was still in use in 1730, but is shown in a sketch to have been in ruins by 1790. Human bone has been recovered from the southern banks of the churchyard enclosure. To the east of Church Site Farm and south of the main street are three more enclosures. These have been degraded slightly by modern land use but appear in form to be similar to those north of the main street with two platforms either side of a sunken yard. To the north and south of the main village earthworks are the well preserved remains of part of the open field system. Modern fences and metalled surfaces are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these fratures is included. The modern Church Site Farm and its yards and buildings is totally excluded from the scheduling.

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: 29917

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Nottinghamshire, (1910), 253-265
Throsby, J, Thorotons History of Nottinghamshire, (1797), 73-76
Cameron, A, OBrien, C, 'Transactions of the Thoroton Society' in Deserted Medieval Village Of Thorpe In The Glebe, Nottinghamshire, (1981), 56-67
Cameron, A, OBrien, C, 'Transactions of the Thoroton Society' in Deserted Medieval Village Of Thorpe In The Glebe, Nottinghamshire, (1981), 56-67
Information from Occupier-Mr Scott, (1997)

End of official listing