Moated site at Grove Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018727

Date first listed: 02-Dec-1998


Ordnance survey map of Moated site at Grove Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Buckinghamshire

District: Wycombe (District Authority)

Parish: Ellesborough

National Grid Reference: SP 83572 08088


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 at Grove Farm survives well. Despite the construction of Grove Farm house and associated modern features the island remains largely undisturbed and will retain buried evidence for structures and other features relating to the earlier periods of 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 is set.

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 construction 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 adjoining the northern part of the moated site forms an integral part of the settlement and provides further evidence for its economy and status.

Dovecotes are specialised structures designed for the breeding and keeping of doves as a source of food and as a symbol of high social status. Most surviving examples were built in the period between the 14th and 17th centuries, although both earlier and later examples are documented. They were generally freestanding structures, square or circular in plan and normally of brick or stone, with nesting boxes built into the internal wall. They were frequently sited at manor houses or monasteries. The 17th century dating of the dovecote suggests an interesting later reuse for the island as an ornamental feature or garden within the grounds of Seyton Manor, which had itself obviously outgrown the confines of the moated island. Despite the partial collapse of the dovecote, the structure retains clear evidence of its former appearance, function and date, which, in turn, illuminate the later use of the island.

The monument lies in an area where moated sites are fairly numerous, with further moated sites situated at Terrick House, 200m to the north east, Apsley Manor Farm 1.4km to the north west and Marsh 2.6km to the north west. Comparisons between these sites will provide valuable insights into the nature of settlement and society in the medieval period.


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


The monument includes a medieval moated site with an associated fishpond and the remains of a post-medieval dovecote at Grove Farm.

The moated site includes a sub-oval island measuring approximately 70m north to south with maximum dimensions of 46m east to west. The island is contained by a ditch, or moat, which measures up to 16m wide and at least 2m in depth and of which only the base is waterlogged. An outer bank, measuring some 6m wide and 0.5m in height is thought to represent upcast from the ditch. This is visible on the north and east sides of the moat. The south western corner of the moat has been largely infilled in order to provide access between the island and the farmyard to the south west. It is possible, however, that access to the interior was originally provided by a narrow causeway which crosses the northern arm of the moat.

About 6m to the north of the moat is an extension to the moat, which was possibly used as a fishpond. This sub-square pond, which measures approximately 24m wide, is marked on the 1805 Inclosure Map in its present form.

The remains of a square flint and brick dovecote, 6m in width, stand on the northern half of the island. Three of the walls of the roofless building still stand to a height of more than 3m, whilst the fourth wall is in a state of near total collapse. The Victoria County History puts a possible 16th century date on the dovecote, but it is more likely to be contemporary with the late 17th century Seytons Manor immediately south west of the moat.

The moat is likely to mark the original site of a manorial holding under the honour of Wolverton, probably subinfeudated (or divided) before 1166 and of which one moiety was afterwards known as Seyton's Manor or the Manor of Grove. The present late 17th century Seyton's Manor may well represent the successor to a house on the island.

Grove Farm house, the outhouses, the septic tanks for both Grove Farm and Seyton's Manor, the concrete driveway, patio and ornamental stones, together with the fences around the outside edge of the moat ditch are 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. 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: 32115

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Eland, G, In Buckinghamshire, (1923), 89-90
Page, W , The Victoria History of the County of Buckinghamshire, (1969), 331
Page, W , The Victoria History of the County of Buckinghamshire, (1969), 334-335
Title: Inclosure Map of Ellesborough Parish Source Date: 1805 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Bucks Record Office: IR 91 Q

End of official listing