South Grange medieval monastic grange


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


Ordnance survey map of South Grange medieval monastic grange
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Suffolk Coastal (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TM 36816 68348

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.

South Grange is a well documented example of a Cistercian grange, situated close to the parent abbey, and the earthwork enclosure contains the remains of buildings and associated units which formed the nucleus of the monastic farm, largely unencumbered by later buildings. The earthworks and buried deposits will retain archaeological information concerning the organisation and economy of the farm from its foundation in the 12th century to the Dissolution and after to supplement the documentary records, and the likelihood that it overlies part of the site of an earlier settlement recorded in the Domesday Book gives the monument additional interest.


The monument includes the earthworks and buried remains of a medieval monastic grange, formerly one of the principal granges belonging to the Cistercian abbey of Sibton, the remains of which are located approximately 1.3km to the north and are the subject of a separate scheduling. The remains of the grange, enclosed by a substantial ditch, are situated on a gentle, north east facing slope above a minor tributary of the River Yox and contained within the grounds of South Grange farmhouse and a single adjoining field.

South Grange formed part of the abbey demesne from the foundation in 1150, and from surviving accounts it is known that in the 14th century it was run as a self contained mixed farm, concerned principally with sheep and arable cultivation, growing wheat, barley, oats and peas. A survey of 1325 describing the extent of the grange mentions a great courtyard and buildings which included the house with household refectory, the separate offices of the barn- ward and ploughbrother and an ox house, as well as a hemp pightle behind the ox house, and it also gives the value of various commodities grown within the grange, including hay, osiers, nettles, fruit and nuts. During most of the medieval period the grange was farmed by the lay brothers or servants of the abbey, but by the late 15th century was being leased out in its entirety, at a rent of ten pounds per annum.

No part of the residential buildings is known to survive above ground, but it is probable that they stood in the south west corner of the greater enclosure, surrounded or partly surrounded by a moat. Two `L' shaped lengths of this moat, approximately 6m wide, remain open and partly water filled, defining the south west and south east angles of a sub-rectangular enclosure measuring approximately 100m east-west internally. The line of the western arm of the south western length of the moat, which runs north westwards for a distance of approximately 28m from the south west corner, is continued in a field boundary. The eastern arm of the south eastern length runs NNW for a distance of approximately 40m and a narrower and relatively slight linear depression which continues on the same line for a further 15m perhaps marks the extent of an infilled section which will survive as a buried feature. The northern end of the linear depression curves south westward, and in the western field boundary opposite there is a slight, corresponding inward kink, providing some evidence for the return of a now infilled ditch or other boundary feature along the northern side of the enclosure. The south eastern quadrant of the enclosure contains a pond, and immediately to the north of this is a sub- rectangular mound approximately 0.7m in height which may mark the site of a building. South Grange farmhouse, which is Listed Grade II, and various farm buildings which now stand within the central part of the same enclosure are all known or considered to be of post-medieval date and are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

The dry ditch which encloses the much larger sub-rectangular outer enclosure, some 4.1ha in area, is approximately 6m wide and open to a depth of between 0.5m and 1m. The southern arm runs north eastwards from the south west angle of the moat and the western arm continues on the same north westward alignment as the western arm of the moat, though stepped inward twice towards the northern end.

Earthworks within the western half of the greater enclosure include a shallow sub-rectangular depression with maximum dimensions of 23.6m ENE by 16.8m and traces of associated ditches, situated immediately to the north of the area of the partly moated enclosure and perhaps representing a small pond or sunken yard. At the northern end of the enclosure, adjoining the inner edge of the northern arm of the surrounding ditch towards its end is a low, sub- rectangular raised platform measuring approximately 17m east-west by 7m which may have supported a building, and to the south west of this, bordering the inner edge of the western arm of the ditch, there is a broad, flat-topped bank approximately 0.3m in height and 7.5m wide which probably served a similar purpose. The eastern half of the greater enclosure contains a more numerous and complex group of earthworks, probably of varying date, representing various buildings and subsiduary enclosures. Towards the southern end is a large, somewhat uneven rectangular depression defined by scarps up to 1m in height on the western side, with a low, rectangular building platform, approximately 28m in length and 10m in width and clearly visible in aerial photographs, along the northern side, and traces of possible buildings on the west side, also. Further to the north can be seen slight earthworks defining parts of other rectilinear enclosures and at least one other possible large building. In the same area there are remains of several oval and sub- rectangular ponds and associated overflow channels, some of which are probably of later date, although a series of three depressions in a line along the eastern side of the enclosure, close to the boundary ditch, may be the remains of an array of fishponds.

It is thought that the grange may include part of the abandoned site of the medieval settlement of Rapton, recorded in the Domesday survey of 1086 and granted to Sibton Abbey at its foundation, although none of the visible remains can be attributed with certainty to this earlier period.

The farmhouse, farm buildings and outbuildings, the supports of an oil tank, garden furniture, garden fences, modern paving, driveway surfaces, inspection chambers, service poles, field gates and fences are all excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all 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
Denny, A H (ed), 'Suffolk Records Society' in The Sibton Abbey Estates: Selected Documents 1325-1509, , Vol. 2, (1960)
SBT 006: Sibton, South Grange house,
St Joseph, CUCAP ARD18, 20, (1967)


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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