Moated Site 570m west of Laxton Meadow Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Moated Site 570m west of Laxton Meadow Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Cheltenham (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SO 96671 24569

Reasons for Designation

Around 6,000 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. In some cases the islands were used for horticulture. The majority of moated sites served as prestigious aristocratic and seigneurial residences with the provision of a moat intended as a status symbol rather than a practical military defence. The peak period during which moated sites were built was between about 1250 and 1350 and by far the greatest concentration lies in central and eastern parts of England. However, moated sites were built throughout the medieval period, are widely scattered throughout England and exhibit a high level of diversity in their forms and sizes. 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 moated site 570m east of Laxton Meadow Farm survives well and contains, in the manor house, evidence of the status of the manor of Prestbury, the second most valuable property of the bishops of Hereford. The site was located at a stopping point on the journey from London to Hereford, and lay close to the bishops' deer park, which covered the area now occupied by the race course and beyond. The manor is known to have belonged to the bishops from the later ninth century, and although there is at present no archaeological evidence for a house of that date in the area, it is possible that the site helped to attract early settlement to the area of Prestbury, prompting the development of the town and the aquisition of market and borough charters.

Prestbury was the subject of an archaeological assessment by Gloucestershire County Council in 1997. This provided information about the origin, development and plan of the town from its origins in the early medieval period to the present day.


The monument includes part of a moated site, containing the remains of the manor house of the Bishops of Hereford, situated 570m to the west of Laxton Meadow Farm and immediately the east of Cheltenham Racecourse. The site comprises two adjoining rectangular, moated enclosures oriented north west to south east; both were originally surrounded by a continuous earthen bank. The southern part of both enclosures and the east side of the eastern area lie under and immediately around houses built between about 1900 and the 1960s. These areas are not included in the scheduling, except where visible earthwork remains survive. The moat and its internal and external banks are most obvious in the north west corner of the western enclosure, where the moat is about 8m wide and both banks stand to about 1.5m high from the bottom of the usually waterfilled moat. The moat running south from this corner was filled in in 1983, although the external bank can be seen along the western edge of the site, standing about 1m high and between 6m and 8m wide. The south western corner has been slightly obscured by later landscaping, but a denuded bank can be seen in the front garden of the house called `Monks Meadow'. The moat and banks which divided the two enclosures are still visible, the moat surviving to about 2m wide and the banks standing to about 1.5m in height from the bottom of the moat. Some water also stands in the bottom of this part of the moat during the winter. The moat and banks can be seen to extend southwards into the gardens of the properties known as `The Little Monk' and `Green Willows', as far as the access road running north from Park Lane. At this southern end the moat is about 6m wide and the banks about 1.5m high from the bottom of the moat. The eastern enclosure is slightly smaller than that to the west, and the moat and banks survive only on the northern side. At this point the moat is about 2m wide with a gently sloping bank to the north. Within this eastern enclosure, the outline of the manorial fishpond is still visible as a round depression, about 20m in diameter. A channel, about 2m wide, runs from the pond northwards to drain into the moat. The eastern side of this pond, in which water still stands during the winter, has been truncated by a private garden. The manor of Prestbury belonged to the Bishops of Hereford by the later ninth century, and it is possible that there may have been a house on the site from that date, although the earliest excavated evidence dates from the 11th century. Excavations undertaken within the western enclosure in 1951 revealed the foundations of the medieval manor house in the centre of the area. The excavations indicated that the manor house had a timber upper floor, and comprised an aisled ground-floor hall, a first floor solar and a chapel. Finds indicated that the main period of occupation of the site was from the 12th century through to the 17th century, when the building is known to have fallen into ruin, and stone from the house was being removed for repairs to the parish church undertaken in 1698. A second building, which is thought to have been a kitchen, lay to the north west by the side of the moat, and there are indications of further outbuildings, visible as earthworks, to the north. A mill, brewhouse and dairy are recorded in contemporary documents to have stood within this western enclosure. The eastern, southern and south western areas of the site appear to have been open areas, probably containing gardens, confirmed by investigations in the southern area during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Documentary sources also indicated that the eastern enclosure contained `the stable for carts next the gate, the ox-house, the great stable, the pig stye, the sow house, three barns' and the fishpond. Excluded from the scheduling are all modern fences, the two stable blocks and the concrete rafts on which they stand, and the septic tank in the front garden of `Monks Meadow', 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.

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Books and journals
Elrington, C R, Morgan, K, Herbert, N, The Victoria History of the County of Gloucestershire, (1968), 72
O'Neil, H E, 'Trans. Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society' in Prestbury Moat, , Vol. 75, (1956), 5-34


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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