Moated site immediately south east of St Nicholas's Church


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018669

Date first listed: 02-Dec-1998


Ordnance survey map of Moated site immediately south east of St Nicholas's Church
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This copy shows the entry on 18-Dec-2018 at 11:44:42.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Buckinghamshire

District: Aylesbury Vale (District Authority)

Parish: Chearsley

National Grid Reference: SP 72122 10246


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

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 immediately south east of St Nicholas's Church survives well. The island is largely undisturbed and will retain buried evidence for structures and other features relating to its construction and occupation. The buried silts in the base of the ditches will contain both artefacts relating to the period of occupation and environmental evidence for the appearance of the landscape in which the monument was constructed. Despite some infilling of the north and east arms of the moat in the 1980s and levelling of the north west corner in the early 19th century the features survive well.

Fishponds are artificially created pools of slow moving fresh water constructed for the purpose of cultivating, breeding and storing fish in order to provide a constant and sustainable food supply. The tradition of constructing and using fishponds began in the medieval period and reached a peak of popularity in the 12th century. They were largely the province of the wealthier sectors of medieval society, and are considered important as a source of information concerning the economy of various classes of medieval settlements and institutions. The fishpond adjacent to the moated site forms an integral part of the settlement and provides further evidence for its economy and status.

The monument lies in an area where moated sites are relatively numerous enabling chronological and social variations to be explored. The prominent location of the moat and its proximity to the parish church may be a reflection of the status of the owners in the medieval period.


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


The monument includes a medieval moated site with associated fishpond. It is sited towards the south eastern end of the village of Chearsley on ground which slopes steeply to the east, approximately 200m to the west of the River Thame.

The moated site includes a roughly square island measuring approximately 78m in width. This is contained by a ditch, averaging 18m across and up to 4m deep, on the west and south sides. An outer bank, approximately 3m wide and thought to be the upcast from the ditch, is also visible on these two sides. The eastern side of the moat and the eastern end of the northern arm have been largely infilled although the ditch remains visible as a shallow depression. The north west corner of the moat was infilled in the 19th century and is no longer visible but will survive as a buried feature. Access to the island is thought to have been by bridge, and a shallow hollow, about 4m wide, on the west side of the island, is thought to mark the site of such a structure. An eastern extension to the southern arm of the ditch, which is believed to represent an outflow channel, continues for a distance of approximately 30m, disappearing about 5m to the south of, and parallel with, a shallow fishpond which measures approximately 34m long by 12m wide and is included in the scheduling.

The telegraph poles and fences within the area of the monument are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them 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: 32109

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Sheahan, J J, History and Topography of Buckinghamshire, (1861), 349
Taken from O.S. record card, Moated Site South East of Chearsley Church,

End of official listing