Seney Place: the remains of a medieval moated monastic retreat house, Southrey


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018725

Date first listed: 21-Jan-1999


Ordnance survey map of Seney Place: the remains of a medieval moated monastic retreat house, Southrey
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Lincolnshire

District: West Lindsey (District Authority)

Parish: Bardney

National Grid Reference: TF 13384 67075


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.

Retreat houses were principally used for the regular periods of rest and recuperation which were required under Archbishop Lanfranc's codification of the Benedictine Rule, a prominent feature of which was blood-letting (seyneys) which was thought to be beneficial to health. Apart from providing purpose- built accommodation for seyneys, retreat houses were also used by senior monastic officials as places where the monastic rules concerning diet, heating, and conversation were relaxed. As a result, they have features in common with both monastic infirmaries, which were also used for seyneys, and the secular manor houses of the period, although the retreat house also required a chapel large enough to allow the continued observance of the offices by those in residence. Confined to the Benedictine order, only some 80 to 100 retreat houses are thought to have existed, less than half of which are currently recorded as surviving archaeological sites.

The retreat house at Seney Place survives well as a series of earthworks and buried deposits. The artifical raising of the moated island above the general ground level, together with the internal and external banks, will preserve evidence of the land use prior to the construction of the moat. Waterlogging in the base of the moat, together with the pond, will preserve organic remains, such as timber, leather and seeds, which will give an insight into domestic and economic activity on the site. Its specific, documented function as a monastic retreat house makes this a particularly rare surviving example of its kind. The survival of earthworks and buried remains will contain valuable information on the layout and use of the site. The continued use in the post-medieval period demonstrates its ongoing importance as a feature of the landscape.


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


The monument includes remains of the medieval moated monastic retreat house of Bardney Abbey immediately to the north of The Poplars at Southrey. In 1086 the manor of Bardney was held by Gilbert de Gant, whose family had granted the land to Bardney Abbey by 1212. The establishment at Southrey was specifically created as a place of blood-letting (seyney) and recuperation for the monks of Bardney Abbey, and it was normal for four monks to be in residence at any one time. It was recorded that the retreat house was constructed from new by Prior Walter de Langton, and its function as a place of blood-letting has been preserved in the name, `Seney Place', which was noted at the time of the Dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century and has continued in various forms until the 19th century when `Hall Farm... formerly called `Senex Place' was recorded. In the early to mid-19th century buildings stood on the southern end of the island with the farmhouse, which was later replaced by The Poplars, located immediately to the south. There are no longer any standing buildings on the site and the remains now take the form of a series of earthworks and buried deposits.

Situated on relatively level ground the monument includes a rectangular platform, or island, enclosed by a moat with external banks and a pond on the line of the southern moat arm. The visible remains cover an area measuring approximately 125m by 85m, with the island measuring 90m by 50m. The island platform is slightly raised above the level of the surrounding ground, most notably at its southern end, where buildings were recorded in the 19th century. Earthworks, identified by archaeological survey on the eastern side of the island are also believed to represent the foundations of a range of buildings.

The island is surrounded on the east, north, and west sides by a moat 10m to 14m wide and up to 1.5m deep, now only partly water-filled. The 19th century maps show interruptions along the length of both the northern and eastern moat arms; archaeological survey suggests that these features may have represented early access points to the island. There is a low broad external bank along the north side of the moat measuring up to 6m across and standing to a height of 0.4m. A pronounced external bank is visible at the north end of the eastern moat arm, and low earthwork remains of a bank lie along the western moat arm. Part of the southern moat arm has been infilled, but survives as a buried feature; the rest of the southern arm is marked by a water-filled oval pond, measuring up to 25m in length. Water was supplied to the moat by a former stream which fed into the northern moat arm, interrupting the line of the external bank.

A sample of the former streambed has been included in the scheduling in order to preserve its relationship with the water management system of the moat.

All fences, sheds, and animal housing are excluded from the scheduling, 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.

Legacy System number: 31608

Legacy System: RSM


Lindsey Award 152, Southrey Inclosure Award, (1841)
RCHM(E), Everson, P L and Taylor C C and Dunn, C J, Change And Continuity: Rural Settlement in North-West Lincolnshire, (1991)
Title: Southrey Tithe Award and Plan Source Date: 1841 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing