Toulston medieval village, manor house site and early garden earthworks


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017922

Date first listed: 25-Mar-1970

Date of most recent amendment: 18-Mar-1998


Ordnance survey map of Toulston medieval village, manor house site and early garden earthworks
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: North Yorkshire

District: Selby (District Authority)

Parish: Newton Kyme cum Toulston

National Grid Reference: SE 45288 44151


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 Humber-Tees sub-Province of the Central Province which comprises a great fertile lowland, with many local variations caused by slight differences in terrain, but generally dominated by market towns, villages and hamlets. The dispersed farmsteads between these are mainly of post-medieval date, created by movement out of the villages and onto newly consolidated holdings following enclosure. Some, however, are more ancient disposals, the result of manors, granges and other farmsteads being moved out of villages in the Middle Ages; others have become isolated by the process of village depopulation, which has had a substantial impact in the sub-Province. The Vale of York local region is a rich agricultural lowland dominated by a dense pattern of villages and hamlets founded in the Middle Ages, about one in four of which have since been deserted. It contains low and very low densities of dispersed settlements, some of which are isolated medieval moated manor houses. The landscape was formerly dominated by communal townfields which were mainly enclosed in the 18th century.

Medieval villages were organised agricultural communities, generally sited at the centre of a parish or township, that shared resources such as arable land, meadow and woodland. Village plans varied enormously, but where 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 paddocks. They frequently included the parish church within their boundaries, and as part of the manorial system, most villages included 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. Many early houses had gardens associated with them. The creation of gardens has an early history in England, the earliest examples known being associated with Roman villas. During the Anglo-Saxon and medieval periods, herb gardens were planted; particularly in monasteries where the herbs were used for medicinal purposes. However the major development in gardening took place in the late medieval and early post-medieval periods when the idea of the garden as a `pleasure ground' developed. Early gardens take a variety of forms. Some involved significant water-management works to create elaborate water-gardens which could include a series of ponds and even ornamental canal systems. At other sites flower gardens were favoured, with planting in elaborately shaped and often geometrically laid out beds. Planting arrangements were often complemented with urns, statues and other garden furniture. Such sites were often provided with raised walkways or prospect mounds to provide vantage points from which the garden layout could be seen and fully appreciated. Whilst gardens were probably a common accompaniment to high status houses of the late medieval to early post-medieval period, continued occupation and subsequent remodelling of gardens in response to changing fashions means that early garden designs rarely survive undisturbed. Gardens provide a valuable insight into contemporary aesthetics and views about how the landscape could be modified to enhance the surroundings. Their design often mirrors elements of the design of the associated house; particularly following the symmetry of the buildings. In view of their rarity, great variety of form, and importance for understanding high status houses and their occupants, all surviving examples of an early date will be identified to be of national importance. Toulston is a good example of the way that high status houses replaced medieval villages, modifying and overlying their remains to form pleasure gardens. The monument retains important information about a medieval village and will include evidence of its layout and economy. The earthworks of the hall with its surrounding gardens is also important and additional buried remains will provide further evidence of the transition of land use from the medieval settlement to the higher status country house.


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


The monument is located between, and to the south of, St Helen's and Toulston Hall Farm. It includes the earthwork remains of buildings and other features of land use of the medieval settlement of Toulston. These are overlain by later earthworks related to the original Toulston Hall and its associated gardens. There is also one standing building within the area of the monument. This is known as the smithy and is thought to be one of the ancillary buildings belonging to Toulston Hall. An area of the medieval settlement, to the south of Toulston Hall Farm, which has been disturbed by agriculture and landscaping, is not included in the scheduling. Toulston was recorded as Ogleston or Togleston in the Domesday Survey when it was held by Nigel from Robert Count of Mortain. It lay in the Wapentake of Barkston Ash and in 1332 the village was assessed to pay a total of 17 shillings lay subsidy, which rose to 18 shillings two years later. The lay subsidy was a tax levied on wealthier residents of the village and was on average 36 shillings per village within Barkston Ash in 1334. However, the village appears to have suffered heavily from the Black Death as it was granted 50 per cent relief from the lay subsidy in 1352, although this relief was reduced to 13 per cent two years later. Toulston is recorded as having 28 poll tax payers (men and women over the age of 14) in 1377 and 30 in 1379. The settlement of Toulston is thought to have been depopulated to make way for the hall during the Tudor period, with the landscaped gardens dating to around 1600. The settlement of Toulston was sited on a spring line formed by the junction of a block of sand to the north west meeting the underlying clay. The main street of the settlement followed the south side of this spring line running south west to north east. This is now partially overlain by modern trackways but can be seen as a slight hollow way to the north west of the smithy. Along the south side of this hollow way there are the slight earthworks of a number of buildings. In this area to the north west of the smithy there are two square sunken areas about 10m across surrounded on all four sides by small building platforms. These are the earthworks of fold yards surrounded by farm buildings. To the south of these, running up the hill there are further earthworks of boundaries between tofts which were the small enclosures typically used for vegetable and herb gardening to the rear of the houses. The western end of the village is marked by an earth bank. Further earthworks of similar buildings, some with rubble stone footings, lie to the north of the spring line between the two modern farms. To the south east of the smithy there is a large building platform partly cut into the rising ground to the south. This platform faces NNW and measures 75m by 20m and was the site of Toulston Hall. Extending downhill from the centre and both ends of the platform are three broad ramps or banks ending at another bank that runs parallel to the building platform about 30m to the north. The main building of Toulston Hall would have been smaller than the building platform, but placed centrally. The banks are raised walkways designed to give a view of the two square sunken areas outlined by the banks. These would have been formal gardens. Just to the west of these gardens is the still partly roofed smithy. This building is square in plan and arranged on the same axis as the large building platform. It is stone built, single storey and contains a large blacksmith's hearth and the remains of a brick beehive oven. The building is reputed to have been used by Parliamentarian forces before the Battle of Marston Moor. On the spring line, overlooked by the large building platform there is a now irregularly shaped pond. The western part of this garden feature related to the original hall has been enlarged to form part of the garden of the modern Toulston Hall Farm. Downstream and to the ENE of this pond there is a second, better preserved pond. This is an ornamental canal, a typical feature of early post medieval gardens, and is about 75m long with a rounded bay on its south side. This water feature is overlooked from the south west from a line of platforms which are the remains of further formal garden features. These overlie and cut into earthworks of medieval ridge and furrow cultivation which can be more clearly seen immediately to the east of the large building platform. Excluded from the scheduling are all modern fences, dry stone walling, and telegraph poles, although the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 30122

Legacy System: RSM


Record card, Yorkshire Archaeological Society, SE 44 SE 02, (1970)
Record card, Yorkshire Archaeological Society, SE 44 SE 04, (1970)

End of official listing