Moated site known as Caves Manor immediately east of the Manor House


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019138

Date first listed: 09-Nov-2000


Ordnance survey map of Moated site known as Caves Manor immediately east of the Manor House
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Milton Keynes (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Sherington

National Grid Reference: SP 88983 46254


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 known as Caves Manor immediately east of the Manor House survives extremely well, having been retained as the garden setting of the new manor house, constructed to one side of the island in the late 18th century. The island will retain buried evidence for the earlier manor house and other features relating to the period of occupation. Given the scale of the island, which ranks amongst the largest in Buckinghamshire and north Bedfordshire, these features may well include a number of ancillary buildings indicative of its status as the principal manor in the locality prior to the Anarchy, and of the development of the site over the ensuing centuries.

The moat, although doubtless disturbed during cleaning operations in the past, is expected to retain some waterlogged deposits accumulated during the lifetime of the earlier manor house. These will contain artifacts discarded or deposited during the medieval occupancy which will reflect the lifestyle of these inhabitants. Waterlogging may also have preserved valuable environmental evidence illustrating the appearance of the surrounding landscape at this time.

The raised walkway constructed along the outer edge of the eastern arm is a significant indication of the extent to which the island was retained and modified as the setting of the late 18th century house. Although by this period formal water features and terraced walkways had fallen from fashion, having been replaced on the greater estates by more naturalistic designs favoured by Lancelot (Capability) Brown and others, smaller estates, such as Dryden Smith's new manor, may not have been expected to be at the forefront of such changes. Such gardens will, however, reflect the social expectations and aspirations of the period. Although the modification of the moated site to form a garden can be seen as a pragmatic decision, construction of the walkway suggests a conservative attitude and perhaps an intention to reflect established rather than progressive garden design.

The buried icehouse is also of considerable interest. Icehouses are subterranean structures designed specifically to store ice, normally removed in winter from ponds (or in this case most probably from the moat) for use as a preservative and medicine. The construction of icehouses was initiated on great estates in the 17th century, although they soon became common features in the grounds of smaller town and country houses. Superseded in the late 19th century, first by more effective methods of supplying ice and later the introduction of artificial refrigeration, the majority of icehouses were demolished or buried. Of the thousands originally built, some 1500 English icehouses have now been identified through a combination of archaeological and documentary research. Many of these, such as the example at Sherington, provide direct evidence for the lifestyle of the inhabitants of their associated houses and are considered to be of national importance.


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


The monument includes a medieval moated site located immediately to the east of the Manor House (a Listed Building Grade II) at the southern end of Sherington village, within the angle formed by Sherington Road and Croft's End.

The island is rectangular in plan, measuring some 95m north east-south west by 70m. The surface of the island is slightly raised above its surroundings and generally level, except from a few low undulations towards the centre and some vestiges of a perimeter bank at the eastern and western corners. The surrounding moat measures between 6m and 10m in width. It is supplied by an inlet at the eastern corner which is connected to a series of ditches leading from the springhead some 200m further east. These ditches have been modernised and are not included in the scheduling. An iron sluice gate and channel at the southern corner provides the outflow. This has also been extensively repaired and is similarly excluded from the scheduling.

Access to the island is provided by two footbridges on the north and west arms. The bridge across the northern arm is constructed in brick with a single archway, low parapet and iron railings to either side. The keystone on the western face of the arch is inscribed with the date `1846' and the initials `F C',presumably refering to Dr Cheyne who owned the property at that time. The parish enclosure map of 1796 depicts a single bridge or causeway in the same location, and it is considered probable that the original approach to the island always lay on this side, aligned with the main street leading northwards through the village.

The eastern arm of the moat is flanked by a substantial bank measuring some 10m in width and 1.5m high, with a level walkway along the ridge. This is thought to have been created as a prospect mound from which to view either the grounds of the original manor house, or the gardens which formed the setting of the new manor house constructed to the west of the island in 1770. A small icehouse lies buried within the centre of this mound. The main entrance remains visible as a slot-like depression in the western face of the mound. A second indentation on the ridge above marks the position of a characteristic aperture in the roof of the ice chamber. The icehouse is thought to have been constructed in the late 18th or 19th century in order to store supplies (probably lifted from the moat) for the later manor house.

The moated island is thought to have been the site of the original manor of Sherington (Serinton), constructed by the Carun family who acquired the fief in the early 12th century. In about 1140 William de Carun granted the church at Sherington to Tickford Priory (located about 3km to the south). In so doing, he signified his allegiance to the priory's principal benefactor Ralph Peynel, a prominent supporter of the Empress Maud in the period of civil war (known as the Anarchy) which was soon to follow. The Carun estate may have been damaged during this conflict. At the close of hostilities, William relocated the manor to a position on the north side of the village (where it stood until about 1780). The moated manor, relegated to a dependent position and possibly ruinous, later passed into the hands of William le Vintner and his wife Emma. Emma transferred the manor house to John de Cave in about 1255, and it remained in the Cave family until the late 15th century, by which time it had assumed the title of `The Manor of Caves' or `Caves Manor'. Richard Maryot died in possession of the manor in 1491, although it continued in the hands of his widow, Katherine, until at least 1527. William Montgomery received the manor in an exchange of property in 1571, and in 1601 arranged to settle the whole estate on his son, reserving only a corner of the old moated mansion house for his lifetime and that of his wife. In 1627 Caves Manor was conveyed by Sir Francis Clarke to Sir Richard Norton and it continued in the possession of the Norton family until the late 17th century when it passed by marriage to the Pargiters. On Thomas Pargiter's death in 1712 the moated manor estate was inherited by his daughter Susannah and her husband, James Smith of Passenham, Northamptonshire. Susannah's grandson Dryden Smith, a prosperous shipbuilder based at Wapping, inherited the estate in 1770 and promptly demolished the old house which still stood upon the island. The island was then fashioned as a garden to enhance the setting of Dryden's new house (The Manor) which he built immediately outside the moat to the west.

The two bridges, the iron sluice gate, and the 19th century gardener's workshop located towards the centre of the island are all 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: 29471

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County , (1920), 451-3
Chibnall, A C, Sherington: Fiefs and Fields of a Buckinghamshire Village, (1965), 26, 248
Enclosure map (first version), CRO: MA R/28, (1796)
Enclosure map (second version), Collison, W & Russell, M, CRO: IR/ 105 R, (1797)
Site visit notes (info from owner), Pike, A, SMR 4053 Manor House 600 yards South of Sherington Church, (1983)
Site visit notes, Farley, M, SMR 4053 Manor House 600 yards South of Sherington Church, (1972)

End of official listing