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 Manor Farm survives well. It has been identified as the
site of a bishops' palace, later converted to secular use. Bishops' palaces
were high status domestic residences providing luxury accommodation for the
bishops and lodgings for their large retinues; although some were little more
than country houses, others were the setting for great works of architecture
and displays of decoration.
Bishops' palaces were usually set within an enclosure, sometimes moated,
containing a range of buildings, often of stone, including a hall or halls,
chapels, lodgings and a gatehouse, often arranged around a courtyard or
courtyards. The earliest recorded examples date to the seventh century. Many
were occupied throughout the medieval period and some continued in use into
the post-medieval period; a few remain occupied today. Only some 150 bishops'
palaces have been identified and documentary sources confirm that they were
widely dispersed throughout England. All positively identified examples are
considered to be nationally important.
Despite some modern landscaping to the north west corner, the island at Manor
Farm remains largely undisturbed and will retain buried evidence for
structures, and other features relating to the development and character of
the site throughout the periods of occupation. The buried silts in the base of
the ditch will contain both artefacts relating to its occupation and
environmental evidence for the appearance of the landscape in which the
monument was set. The historical documents relating to the site, including the
detailed descriptions of the manorial and religious buildings, provide further
evidence for the wealth and social standing of both the manor and the residing
The monument includes a medieval moated bishops' palace at Manor Farm, located
on the eastern side of the village of Doddington about 770m ENE of the parish
church of St Mary.
The manor of Doddington was one of the manors obtained by the monastery at Ely
on its foundation in the 11th century, and it subsequently became one of the
bishops' principal residences. Bishop Balsham died there in 1286. A survey
made for Bishop Fontibus in 1221 shows a demesne of 262 and a half acres,
together with both vaccaries and fisheries. The manor, like many of the other
episcopal manors, passed through a depression in the 14th century. By the late
15th century the manor was no longer in use by the bishops as an official
residence and was leased out. By 1602 the manor was in the ownership of Sir
John Peyton, in whose family it continued until the end of the 19th century.
The moated site includes a roughly square island measuring up to 104m north-
south by 106m east-west. An inner bank, approximately 3m wide by 0.5m
high and thought to represent upcast from the moat, is visible along the
southern side of the island. The island is contained by a partly water-filled
moat which measures between 6m and 12m in width and up to 2m in depth. The
central part of the west arm has been infilled but survives as a buried
feature. The original access to the island is thought to have been via the
causeway on the western side; further causeways across the north and south
arms are thought to be later additions.
A survey of 1356 records that the manor house lay within a walled enclosure
and consisted of a hall, principal chamber, cloister, pantry, buttery and
other chambers. Within the same encircling wall were a kitchen, brewhouse,
chapel, lodgings for knights and esquires, dovehouse, granary, stables and a
gatehouse in the wall, all of which were then in good repair. Buried remains
of these features will survive within the moated enclosure. The vaccaries and
fisheries, mentioned in the survey of 1221, are thought to have been sited to
the south west of the moated site in an area disturbed by ploughing and are
therefore not included in the scheduling.
The present house, known as Manor House, which occupies the south west part of
the island, dates from the 19th century.
Manor House, together with all farm buildings, outhouses, sheds, wooden
bridges, standing walls, fences, telegraph poles, modern made surfaces, septic
tanks and machinery are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground
beneath these features is included.
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.