Remains of a medieval manor house and associated dovecote 130m and 110m north west of Westdean Manor


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020368

Date first listed: 10-Jun-1952

Date of most recent amendment: 25-Jun-2001


Ordnance survey map of Remains of a medieval manor house and associated dovecote 130m and 110m north west of Westdean Manor
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: East Sussex

District: Wealden (District Authority)

Parish: Cuckmere Valley

National Park: SOUTH DOWNS

National Grid Reference: TV 52453 99640, TV 52459 99615


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

Reasons for Designation

Medieval rural settlements in England were marked by great regional diversity in form, size and type, and the protection of their archaeological remains needs to take these differences into account. To do this, England has been divided into three broad Provinces on the basis of each area's distinctive mixture of nucleated and dispersed settlements. These can be further divided into sub-Provinces and local regions, possessing characteristics which have gradually evolved during the past 1500 years or more. This monument lies in the East Wessex sub-Province of the south-eastern Province, an area in which settlement characteristics are shaped by strong contrasts in terrain. This is seen in the division between the chalk Downs, where chains of nucleated settlements concentrate in the valleys, and the Hampshire Basin, still dominated by the woodlands and open commons of the ancient New Forest, where nucleated sites are largely absent. Along the coastal strip extending into Sussex are more nucleations, while in Hampshire some coastal areas and inland valleys are marked by high densities of dispersed settlement, much of it post-medieval. The Coastlands local region extends from a flat plain inland of Selsey Bill to low chalk cliffs east of Brighton. The roots of settlement are extremely ancient, and late 18th century maps suggest a balanced mixture of farmsteads, hamlets and villages, concentrated in the western portion of the region.

The remains of a medieval manor house and associated dovecote 130m and 110m north west of Westdean Manor, which formed the core of a medieval settlement, represent the predominant, nucleated form of medieval rural settlement within the Coastlands local region. The deserted part of the settlement, represented by the ruined manor house and associated dovecote, survives comparatively well in the form of standing architectural fragments and below ground archaeological remains. Although partly incorporated within the outbuildings and grounds of the adjacent, post-medieval house, the site remains largely undisturbed by subsequent development and will retain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the exact form, development and date of the house. This give a valuable insight into the economy and way of life of its inhabitants.


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


The monument, which falls into two separate areas, includes the remains of a medieval manor house, formerly known as Westdean House, and its associated dovecote situated within the village of Westdean on the eastern edge of the Cuckmere Valley, around 2km east of Seaford. The monument survives in the form of ruined structures and below ground archaeological remains. Historical records suggest that Westdean was a settlement of some importance, visited by Edward I in 1305, and one of several nucleated medieval settlements within the larger manor of Wilmington. Sources indicate that the house was owned during the early 17th century by the Thomas family, and was later in use as a farmhouse. The building was allowed to fall into decay during the early 1800s and was finally demolished in about 1825. The later, 19th century, Grade II Listed manor house is located about 100m to the south east. A drawing of 1785 depicts the house and its dovecote at the heart of the settlement, with the Norman church and adjacent 13th century priest's house, to the north east. The house consisted of a principal, south east-north west aligned rectangular range, with two projecting wings on its south western side. Structural evidence suggests that the principal range is of medieval date, with at least one subsequent phase of construction, which included the addition of the southern wing during the 16th or early 17th century. The south eastern end of the medieval range survives to a height of about 6m. This flint-faced and stone-dressed wall was subsequently pierced by two large windows, now blocked, which lit the first and ground floor levels of the two storey building. The southern end of the south western wall of the manor house was partly rebuilt in Tudor brick, and a substantial portion of this survives. Further contemporary brickwork also exists within the small square structure, built onto the southern corner of the house, and this is thought to represent the remains of the southern Tudor wing. This structure is Listed Grade II. The lower, flint courses of the south western wall of the manor house, including a chamfered stone plinth, were retained within a later garden wall, which extends beyond the surviving stone quoins which represent the north western corner of the manor house. The line of the wall is broken at one point by a later garden doorway, and is flanked on its south western side by a terrace garden. The terrace is raised approximately 2m above the ground level to the west, from which it can be reached by brick steps, and is retained by brick wall constructed on lower courses of flint. This wall is Grade II Listed. The garden is likely to contain further buried remains associated with the manor house. There are no above-ground remains of the north eastern and north western walls of the house, but evidence of these will survive in buried form. Subsequent additions to the upstanding remains include a low gabled building which was added to the south eastern corner of the house at a later date, and this continues the line of the south eastern wall of the house. Medieval pottery was recovered from the area during small scale excavations in 1972, and further, as yet unidentified remains of the house can be expected to extend beyond the boundaries of the monument, and may survive within and beneath the surrounding structures. Situated approximately 10m to the south of the manor house is a contemporary, medieval dovecote, which is Listed Grade II. The circular building measures around 6m in diameter and survives to a height of about 4.5m. Its substantial, flint-faced walls, up to 1m thick, are pierced on the eastern side by a stone four-centre arched doorway. In a similar fashion to the south western wall of the manor house, a chamfered stone plinth runs around the external wall of the dovecote, to a height of about 1m above the surrounding ground surface. The conical roof of the dovecote has now been lost, and its interior is open to the sky. Built around the interior walls is an unusual arrangement of three, double rows of nesting boxes separated by bands of flint and rubble. Below each tier of nests, a projecting chalk block functioned as an alighting platform. Some of the nests were later repaired in brick, and the wall tops capped with slates. The 18th-19th century garden walls and outbuildings, which extend into the area of the monument are excluded from the scheduling, except those containing in situ medieval or Tudor fabric which are included in the scheduling. The following items are also excluded from the scheduling: the modern oil tank, boiler room and associated chimney within the dovecote; all garden ornaments; paths and fence posts. However, 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: 32270

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Cooper, G M, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in On an ancient Rectory House in the parish of West Dean, , Vol. 3, (1850), 16
Grimm, S H, Westdean Manor, (1785)
Grimm, S H, Westdean Manor, (1785)

End of official listing