Moated bishops' palace at Manor Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019547

Date first listed: 05-Jan-2001


Ordnance survey map of Moated bishops' palace at Manor Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Cambridgeshire

District: Fenland (District Authority)

Parish: Doddington

National Grid Reference: TL 40775 90716


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 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 bishops.


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


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.

MAP EXTRACT 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.


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

Legacy System number: 33272

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Cambridgeshire, (1953), 110-112
The Victoria History of the County of Cambridgeshire, (1953), 110-112
BKJ 8, CUCAP, (1972)
Title: Tithe Map of Doddington Source Date: 1840 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: CRO: P56

End of official listing