Manorial site immediately south east of St Peter's Church
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1018833
Date first listed: 10-Apr-1980
Date of most recent amendment: 19-Mar-1999
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Harborough (District Authority)
National Grid Reference: SP 61818 92164
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
Reasons for Designation
Medieval manorial settlements, comprising small groups of houses with
associated gardens, yards and paddocks, supported communities devoted
primarily to agriculture, and acted as the foci for manorial administration.
Although the sites of many of these settlements have been occupied
continuously down to the present day, many others declined in size or were
abandoned at some time during the medieval and post-medieval periods,
particularly during the 14th and 15th centuries. The reasons for desertion
were varied but often reflected declining economic viability, changes in land-
use such as enclosure or emparkment, or population fluctuations as a result of
widespread epidemics such as the Black Death. As a consequence of their
abandonment, these settlements are frequently undisturbed by later occupation
and contain well-preserved archaeological deposits, providing information on
the diversity of medieval settlement patterns and farming economy, and on the
structure and changing fortunes of manorial communities.
The building of fishponds began in the medieval period and peaked in the 12th century. The difficulty in obtaining fresh meat in winter and the value placed on fish as a food source and for status may have been factors which favoured the development of fishponds and which made them so valuable. The practice of constructing fishponds declined after the Dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century, although in some areas it continued into the 17th century. Documentary sources provide a wealth of information about the way fishponds were managed. The main species of fish kept were eel, tench, pickerel, bream, perch and roach. Most fishponds were located next to villages, manors or monasteries. Archaeologically fishponds are important for their association with other classes of medieval monument and in providing evidence of site economy.
The remains of the manorial site immediately south east of St Peter's Church survive particularly well as a series of earthworks and buried deposits. The site has remained largely undisturbed since its abandonment with the result that the survival of archaeological deposits relating to its occupation and use is likely to be good. These deposits will contain information about the dating, construction and layout of the manor house and the status of its occupants. Waterlogging in the area of the moat and fishponds suggests a high potential for the survival of organic remains which will provide an insight into the economy of the site, and the environment in which it was constructed. Together with contemporary documents relating to the site, this will provide a good opportunity to understand the mechanisms behind the development, decline and eventual abandonment of the manor house.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of the manor house, its
moat, fishponds and water control features immediately south east of
St Peter's Church.
The location of a rectangular structure, possibly a wing of the manor house is defined by banks approximately 1.5m in width and 0.3m in height delineating an area up to 30m north to south and 20m east to west. The banks are situated on a platform enclosed to the north and east by the moat, and to the south by a fishpond. A sub-rectangular mound approximately 7m in diameter against the inside edge of the western bank probably represents a collapsed internal feature such as a chimney breast. The location of further structures are defined by a series of parallel linear banks immediately to the west of the platform. The most northerly bank is approximately 1.5m in width and runs for 20m on an east-west axis. The base of a wall is visible at the western end of the bank as a section of bonded stone up to 2m in length and 0.9m in width. The moat survives as two semi-waterfilled ditches. The northern arm measures approximately 4m in width and 1m in depth and runs for 37m on an east-west axis, joining the eastern arm at a right-angle. The eastern arm is up to 4m in width, 1m in depth and approximately 85m in length. A drainage channel up to 3m in width and 0.5m in depth feeds into its northern end, continuing for up to 100m on a north-south axis. A smaller channel, 1.3m wide and 0.3m in depth situated 2m to the east runs parallel with the drainage ditch for up to 35m and is joined to it at its northern end by a small leat. A second drainage channel approximately 2.5m in width and 0.5m in depth is situated 25m east of the eastern arm of the moat and runs parallel with it for its entire length, continuing northwards for a further 90m before being truncated by the present field boundary. The second channel is defined on its western side by a low bank up to 3m in width and 0.5m in height and broadens at its southern end into a fishpond defined by a waterlogged triangular depression up to 50m in length east to west and 20m in width. A second fishpond situated immediately to the west survives as a semi-waterfilled, sub-rectangular depression continuing from the eastern arm of the moat. A channel in the western side of this pond links it to a third fishpond consisting of a waterfilled rectangular depression measuring 80m east to west and 40m in width.
In the Domesday survey of 1086 the manor of Erendesbi or Arnesby was held by William Peverel. In 1155 a descendent of Peverel's, also named William was accused of witchcraft following the death of Ranulph, Earl of Chester and the family's estates were seized by the Crown. The manor of Arnesby was granted to the Despenser family soon afterwards, passing to Henry Lord Beaumont in 1326 and finally to William Hastings in 1485. In 1622 the manor and the income associated with the lordship were the subject of a well documented legal dispute between Thomas Wyatt of Arnesby, yeoman and Elizabeth Turvill of Aston, widow. Ownership was finally relinquished by the Wyatts at the end of the 18th century. The antiquarian John Nichols described the house, its gardens and fishponds in some detail in 1800 and named a Mr Adams as the occupant. A lack of any reference to the manor house in the first census returns suggest that it was demolished before 1841, and a map dated to 1885 shows that the site was by then much as it remains today.
All fences 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: 30249
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Hartley, R F, Arnesby, (1981)
Nichols, J, The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicestershire, (1800)
Throsby, J, Select Views of Leicestershire, (1790)
Farnham, G.F., Leicestershire Medieval Village Notes, 1933,
Hunting Aviation, (1970)
Title: Ordnance Survey 25" Series Source Date: 1885 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
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