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Harpswell Hall: a post-medieval house and gardens overlying medieval settlement remains immediately south of Hall Farm

List Entry Summary

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.

Name: Harpswell Hall: a post-medieval house and gardens overlying medieval settlement remains immediately south of Hall Farm

List entry Number: 1019068


The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Lincolnshire

District: West Lindsey

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Harpswell

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 03-Apr-2000

Date of most recent amendment: Not applicable to this List entry.

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 33122

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

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

Reasons for Designation

Post-medieval formal gardens are garden arrangements dating between the early 16th and mid-18th centuries, their most characteristic feature being a core of geometric layout, typically located and orientated in relation to the major residences of which they formed the settings. Garden designs of this period are numerous and varied, although most contain a number of recognisable components. For the 16th and 17th centuries, the most common features are flat-topped banks or terraces (actually raised walkways), waterways, closely set ponds and multi-walled enclosures. Late 17th and 18th century gardens often reflect the development of these ideas and contain multiple terraces and extensive water features, as well as rigidly geometrical arrangements of embankments. Other features fashionable across the period include: earthen mounds (or mounts) used as vantage points to view the house and gardens, or as the sites of ornate structures; `moats' surrounding areas of planting; walled closes of stone or brick (sometimes serving as the forecourt of the main house); and garden buildings such as banqueting houses and pavilions. Planted areas were commonly arranged in geometric beds, or parterres, in patterns which incorporated hedges, paths and sometimes ponds, fountains and statuary. By contrast, other areas were sometimes set aside as romantic wildernesses. Formal gardens were created throughout the period by the royal court, the aristocracy and county gentry, as a routine accompaniment of the country seats of the landed elite. Formal gardens of all sizes were once therefore commonplace, and their numbers may have comfortably exceeded 2000. The radical redesign of many gardens to match later fashions has dramatically reduced this total, and little more than 250 examples are currently known in England. Although one of many post-medieval monument types, formal gardens have a particular importance reflecting the social expectations and aspirations of the period. They represent a significant and illuminating aspect of the architectural and artistic tastes of the time, and illustrate the skills which developed to realise the ambitions of their owners. Surviving evidence may take many forms, including standing structures, earthworks and buried remains; the latter may include details of the planting patterns, and even environmental material from which to identify the species employed. Examples of formal gardens will normally be considered to be of national importance, where the principal features remain visible, or where significant buried remains survive; of these, parts of whole garden no longer in use will be considered for scheduling.

The foundations of the post-medieval house and formal gardens at Harpswell Hall survive well as a series of earthwork and buried deposits. The buried remains of the post-medieval hall will include information concerning its extent, construction and subsequent alterations. Established and maintained by one well-known family over a period of time it will contribute to an understanding of the development of a high status component of the post- medieval landscape.

The garden remains reflect the changing social expectations, aspirations and tastes of the period, and the buried garden remains will include further information on layout and design. Waterlogging in the ornamental moat will preserve evidence such as seeds, for the past environment of the site. In addition, the artificially raised ground surface will preserve evidence of land use prior to the construction of the gardens. The association of the post-medieval remains with those of a medieval settlement demonstrates the development of the site over a period of nearly a thousand years and the buried remains of the settlement will include archaeological information about its form and layout. As a result of documentary research and archaeological survey the site is quite well understood.


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


The monument includes the earthwork and surviving extent of the buried remains of Harpswell Hall, a post-medieval house with formal gardens immediately south of Hall Farm. In 1086 Harpswell was divided into two manors which both came into the hands of the Whichcote family by the 16th century. The settlement which had become established here during the Middle Ages was partly removed by the Whichcotes in the late 16th or early 17th century when the house and gardens were established. The Whichcote family remained resident at Harpswell until 1776 making additions and alterations to the gardens during the 17th and 18th centuries. Harpswell Hall was demolished in the mid-19th century and now survives as a buried feature, while the remains of the formal gardens and part of the earlier settlement are visible as earthworks. The estate remained in the hands of the Whichcote family until 1918.

The remains of Harpswell Hall are situated in the southern part of the monument. Depicted on a late 18th century drawing by Nattes, it was an early 17th century H-shaped house with 18th century extensions to the main building. The location of the buried foundations is indicated by low earthworks. Immediately to the north of the Hall remains, are the earthworks of a square sunken garden, measuring 40m in width and up to 1m deep, with a central circular feature, 20m in diameter, thought to represent a flower bed. A rectangular extension to the east side of the sunken garden includes opposing hollows, on the north and south sides, thought to indicate the position of steps down to the garden or niches for statuary. A buttressed brick wall, thought to be 18th century in origin, lies immediately to the north of the sunken garden forming a retaining wall for terraced gardens to the north.

Adjacent to the west of the sunken garden is a raised area indicating the location of former paths and flower beds, leading toward an ornamental moat and prospect mound, which lie at the western end of the formal garden. Approximately 150m to the west of the site of the Hall is an oval mound, standing roughly 3.5m high, giving a view eastwards over the gardens towards the Hall and westwards over the surrounding countryside. A gazebo, depicted in the 18th century drawing of the house and gardens, formerly stood on top of the mound.

Approximately 150m to the south west of the Hall lies the ornamental water-filled moat which may reuse or adapt an earlier manorial site. The moat arms, measuring up to 20m in width, create the effect of a broad angled canal enclosing three sides of a rectangular island. Access to the island, which is about 80m in length, is via a broad causeway on the eastern side of the island which is closed by a buttressed brick wall with a central opening, thought to be 18th century in date. Water is supplied to the moat via a stream flowing in at its south eastern corner. The moated site is raised at its western end above the general ground level where it is lined by an external bank.

To the east of the ornamental moat the course of the stream was widened to produce a serpentine water feature, believed to be associated with alterations undertaken in the mid-18th century by Thomas Whichcote to create an informal garden and park in keeping with the landscaping ideas of the time. Whichcote family correspondence from the period indicates that the garden and parkland features were maintained at least until the latter part of the 18th century. A shallow rectangular hollow on the south side of the hall is believed to have formed part of the serpentine or an associated water feature and is included in the scheduling. The meandering course of the now defunct serpentine to the east of the hall is not included in the scheduling.

Extending eastwards from the sunken garden is a broad embanked avenue, approximately 250m in length. Originally lined with trees along the south side, the avenue provided a vista of the village church beyond its eastern end, and remained in use during the 19th century. A brick wall, aligned north-south, which survives as a buried feature, is believed to indicate the eastern extent of the formal gardens.

A hollow way lies to the north of, and parallel to the post-medieval avenue. The hollow way represents the remains of an earlier thoroughfare associated with the former medieval settlement now largely overlain by the formal gardens. Low banks at right angles to the hollow way are thought to indicate the position of former village property divisions.

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.

Selected Sources

RCHM(E), Everson, P L and Taylor C C and Dunn, C J, Change And Continuity: Rural Settlement in North-West Lincolnshire, (1991)
RCHM(E), Everson, P L and Taylor C C and Dunn, C J, Change And Continuity: Rural Settlement in North-West Lincolnshire, (1991)
Tatam, Mr , (1998)

National Grid Reference: SK 93286 89837


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This copy shows the entry on 26-Sep-2018 at 07:40:11.

End of official listing