Moated site, ridge and furrow cultivation remains, a post-medieval formal garden and pond bays 600m south east of Court Farm, Gretton


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020149

Date first listed: 18-Dec-1979

Date of most recent amendment: 18-Sep-2001


Ordnance survey map of Moated site, ridge and furrow cultivation remains, a post-medieval formal garden and pond bays 600m south east of Court Farm, Gretton
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Shropshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Cardington

National Grid Reference: SO 51723 94792, SO 51903 94843, SO 51963 94498


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.

Formal gardens dating from the early 16th century onwards were created close to many large country houses. The layout of such designed landscapes often included water features, some of which were built on a grand scale utilising natural land forms and incorporating existing water features such as moats and ponds. The creation of formal gardens gives an indication of the social standing and aspirations of the occupants, and also provides an insight into the artistic fashions of the period. The moated site and the surrounding formal garden south east of Court Farm are well-preserved examples of these types of monument, despite the later alteration to parts of the large pond. The remains represent one of the most extensive post-medieval formal gardens known in Shropshire. The rectangular moated island will retain buried evidence of the structures that once stood here. These structures, together with the buried and upstanding structural remains on the polygonal island, and the associated artefacts and organic remains, will provide valuable evidence about the occupation and social status of the inhabitants of the site. All the dams, including that for the mill pond, will retain evidence for their construction. The ridge and furrow cultivation remains associated with the moated site provide an indication of the use of the land in the medieval period prior to its incorporation within the large formal garden. The records of the Gretton manorial court provide valuable information regarding date and the use of the site from the late medieval period onwards. In addition, a detailed survey of the earthworks has provided a comprehensive view of these remains.


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


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of a medieval moated site, associated ridge and furrow cultivation remains, a post-medieval formal garden and pond bays, which lie within three separate areas of protection. Located to the east of the moated site, within the area of the post-medieval garden, is the remaining part of a former farmhouse known as the Court House. It dates to the mid-to late 16th century, largely rebuilt in the late 18th century, and was partially demolished in the mid-19th century. The upstanding remains of this dwelling are a Listed Building Grade II. Manorial court records survive for Gretton from the early 15th century to the mid-16th century, and from the later 18th century to 1817, and deal mainly with local administrative issues and matters of penal concern. It is considered that the moated site and later the Court House, surrounded by formal gardens, was where the manorial courts were held. The moated site is situated in an area of undulating land and occupies an elevated position from where there is a pronounced fall in all directions except to the east. From this location there are extensive views of the surrounding area. The arms of the moat are about 7m wide and are marshy in places, and define a rectangular island approximately 42m north to south by 46m east to west. Material excavated from the moat has been used to form external banks, up to 0.5m high, along the western, northern and eastern arms. A causeway, about 4m wide, which crosses the western arm, provides access to the island. Raised and level areas on the southern half of the island appear to relate to the positions of former buildings. Surrounding the moated site to the east and south are the remains of cultivation strips (ridge and furrow) orientated east to west, which in the medieval period formed part of a network of open fields. As these cultivation remains appear to respect the moated site they are likely to be contemporary. The low-lying area surrounding the higher ground on which the moated site was constructed has been extensively landscaped in order to create a large formal garden, where water features were the principal components. A polygonal island of approximately 1.8ha was formed around the moated site by cutting into and accentuating the natural surrounding sloping ground. To the south of the polygonal island a large, roughly heart-shaped pond basin of approximately 2.6ha was created. Its eastern side was formed by a dam, averaging 12m wide and standing up to 1.2m high, while its western side was defined by a natural scarp. The pond basin, which has been drained, and the southern portion of the dam, which is under cultivation, are not included in the scheduling. Two broad channels run from the pond basin and define the eastern and western sides of the polygonal island. These channels also run into a shallow depression, now a marshy area, which defines the northern side of the polygonal island. The western channel has been partially recut in order to drain the surrounding land. The channel to the east is bounded on its eastern side by a broad flat-topped bank, which also acted as a dam to control the discharge of water from around the polygonal island. The means of access onto the island and the Court House was via a causeway, about 7m wide, which crosses the eastern channel. Four small rectangular and sub-rectangular ponds were constructed within the north eastern part of the polygonal enclosure. All appear to form an integral part of the design of the garden and are likely to have been ornamental fish pools. Three of the ponds have a direct association with the former rectangular moat, which shows signs of having been recut, with one of the ponds occupying the north eastern part the rectangular island. To the east and south east of the polygonal island, located in two separate areas, are the remains of two dams or pond bays, which retained large pools of water within the neighbouring shallow valley. The dam which is closest to the polygonal island, to the east, is about 9m wide and stands to a height of 1.5m. The proximity of this dam to the complex of water features to the west, suggests it was probably contemporary with them. The more distant pond downstream to the south east, which is defined by a much larger dam about 13m wide and 2.3m high, appears to have been unconnected to the post-medieval formal garden. Its size suggests that it was probably a dam for a mill pond of probable medieval date. The Court House and associated garden wall, the former pigsty, fence and gate posts and stiles are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all 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: 33850

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Shropshire: Volume X, (1998), 63, 68
Everson, P, 'Garden Archaeology. CBA Research Report 78' in Field survey and garden earthworks, (1991), 11-12
Wilson-North, R and Cocroft, W, Gretton - RCHME field survey plan and archive report, (1986)

End of official listing