Moated site at Apsley Manor Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018729

Date first listed: 02-Dec-1998


Ordnance survey map of Moated site at Apsley Manor Farm
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The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1018729 .pdf

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This copy shows the entry on 23-Jan-2019 at 17:34:35.


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 82322 08812


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 with two islands at Apsley Manor Farm survives well. The northern island and the greater part of the southern island are largely undisturbed and will retain buried evidence for structures and other features relating to former periods of occupation. The adjacent building platform also survives well and will provide evidence for settlement activity, as well as the economy and status of the site. 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 set. Part of the site's former use is clearly visible in the surviving pattern of medieval cultivation which truncates the moat bank to the west.

The monument, which represents a variation of the more common single island moated site, lies in an area where moated sites are relatively numerous, enabling chronological and social variations to be explored. Further moated sites are situated at Marsh, 1.1km to the north west, Grove Farm, Ellesborough, 1.3km to the south east and Terrick House, Ellesborough, 1.45km to the south east. Comparisons between these sites will provide valuable insights into the nature of settlements 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 house platform and a sample of the surrounding medieval cultivation earthworks at Apsley Manor Farm.

The moated site incorporates two islands, both originally trapezoidal in plan which are separated by an intervening arm of the moat ditch. The northern island measures approximately 42m north west-south east by between 28m and 48m north east-south west and is raised about 0.3m above the surrounding ground level. It is approached by a causeway across the eastern corner of the surrounding moat. The southern island was originally larger than the northern island and measured about 66m north west-south east. Only the northern half survives, largely undisturbed however, measuring a maximum of 64m north east-south west by 30m north west-south east. It provides a platform for the Grade II Listed house, which dates from the 16th century, and a granary. The southern part of the southern island is overlain by modern farm buildings and is not included in the scheduling. Except to the south of the southern island, where these features have been obscured by modern development, both islands are contained by a ditch, or moat, between 6m and 10m in width and up to 1m deep. An outer bank, approximately 4m wide by 0.5m high and thought to be the upcast from the ditch, is also visible where the ditch survives. A depression on the northern edge of the southern island is thought to mark the site of a bridge connecting the two islands, which was mentioned as still surviving in 1913. A north west extension from the south western arm of the moat represents an outflow channel which extends some 24m to connect with the brook flanking the moated site. An external bank on the north east side of the outflow channel is thought to be upcast from the ditch.

A building platform, which is aligned with the moat and measures approximately 18m square, is sited immediately to the south of the ditch which surrounded the southern island of the moat. Although this ditch is now partly destroyed, the 1805 Ellesborough, Great Kimble and Little Kimble Estate Map shows that the moat ditch originally narrowed at the point between the southern island and the building platform in order to prevent truncation of the platform. The platform is considered to represent an ancillary structure related to the moated site: perhaps a stable, barn or other building.

The pasture to the west of the northern island contains traces of medieval cultivation (ridge and furrow) orientated at right-angles to the south western moat arm, and believed to post-date its construction. A 10m wide sample of the ridge and furrow is included in the scheduling in order to protect the archaeological relationship between the cultivation earthworks and the moated site.

Although Apsley is first mentioned in 1247 when William of Appesley brought an action against the Abbot of Missenden concerning a free tenement and rent in Ellesborough, the Manor of Apsley is not directly mentioned until 1486-7 with the death of Thomas Temple. The 1805 Estate Map shows the moat in its original form, with a causeway across the no longer surviving southern arm of the moat ditch. It also shows that the brook to the west of the moat was partly diverted to feed the moat.

The house and barn, the patio, concrete steps cut into the moat ditch, the fences and gates 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.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 32117

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Allcroft, A H, Earthworks of England, (1908), 462-463
Page, W , The Victoria History of the County of Buckinghamshire, (1969), 333
RCHM, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Buckinghamshire, (1913)
Title: Ellesborough, Great Kimble and Little Kimble Estate Map Source Date: 105 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Bucks Rec. Office Ref: D/BMT/67R
Title: Ellesborough, Great Kimble and Little Kimble Estate Map Source Date: 1805 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Bucks Rec. Office Ref: D/BMT/67R

End of official listing