Part of Witton Old Hall medieval lordly residence 340m north east of Feniscliffe Bridge
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Blackburn with Darwen (Unitary Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- SD 66422 27269
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 Lancashire Lowlands sub-Province of the Northern and
Western Province, an area extending from the moorlands of the western Pennines
to the coastal plain with its villages and hamlets. The southern part of the
sub-Province supports high densities of dispersed settlements, but there are
much lower densities further north, in the Craven Lowlands, the Ribble Valley
and the areas around Morecambe Bay. In the Middle Ages the larger, lowland
settlements were supported by `core' arable lands, communally cultivated, with
enclosed fields around them. The uplands contained sheep and cattle farms and
seasonally occupied `shieling' settlements.
Most villages included one or more high status residences typically owned by a Lord of the Manor. In the medieval period these prestigious residences generally included a great hall, private chambers, kitchens, stores and service rooms, frequently housed in a series of separate buildings or ranges, typically around one or more courtyards. Lordly residences were also often the centre of the Lord's home farm and would thus include one or more barns and other structures like granaries and buildings for livestock. They were typically sited next to the parish church or included a chapel which in some places became a parish church at a later date. Sometimes the outer boundary of the complex of buildings making up the lordly residence was defined by a bank or ditch. Those lordly residences defined by a substantial ditch are normally identifed as moated sites. Fish ponds, dovecots and mill sites are also often associated with lordly residences, although often placed beyond the boundary of the main concentration of buildings. Lordly residences may survive as visible remains as well as below ground deposits. They were important foci of medieval rural life as typically the Lord of the Manor closely regulated local agriculture and village life. Towards the end of the medieval period, this form of lordly residence with its scatter of separate buildings was increasingly replaced by larger, more comfortable houses, often set apart from the core of the village itself. Despite suffering damage and neglect, the upstanding and buried remains of Witton Old Hall medieval lordly residence survive reasonably well and form part of a building considered to have been occupied for about 500 years. It will retain significant information providing insights into the layout and function of an early lordly residence.
The monument includes the upstanding and buried remains of part of Witton
Old Hall medieval lordly residence. It is interpreted as forming part of
the residence of the Lord of the Manor of Witton. Witton Old Hall is
located on a low knoll on the north bank of the River Blakewater, 340m
north east of Feniscliffe Bridge, and consists of the ruins of a range of
buildings on the north side of a courtyard or farmyard.
It is difficult to separate land which formed part of Witton Manor from
that which formed part of Witton Old Hall and its estate, and it is not
known precisely when construction of Witton Old Hall began. A further
complicating factor is that the manor of Witton and Witton Old Hall and
its estate descended quite separately for considerable periods of time.
Witton Manor was part of the pre-Conquest manor of Billington and during
the 13th century was owned by the de Lacy family, Earls of Lincoln.
Documentary sources indicate that in the mid-13th century Witton Manor
belonged to the de Billington family who held it of the de Lacy family. In
1288 the manor was given to the de Chadderton family and by the early 15th
century it had passed to the de Radcliffe family. In the late 15th century
the manor had passed by marriage to the Standish family. In 1680 it passed
to Thomas Greenfield from whom it descended to his daughter, Martha, wife
of the Rev'd John Holme, Vicar of Blackburn 1706-38. Their son passed the
manor to trustees for sale in 1742. Regarding Witton Old Hall documentary
sources indicate that in the late 13th century the de Billington family
granted part of their estate to the de Haldeley family to hold of the de
Lacy family. In 1322 the de Haldeley's gave the estate to the de Radcliffe
family. In 1347 the estate passed to the Abbot of Whalley Abbey and after
the dissolution it was sold to Richard Crombilholme. The first documentary
evidence directly referring to Witton Old Hall is found in 1544 when it
was sold by Richard Crombilholme to George and William Astley. Witton Old
Hall remained with the Astley family until the early 18th century after
which it was owned by John Holme, Vicar of Blackburn 1706-38. By the late
1780s ownership had passed to the Feilden family and in 1800 work began on
the construction of Witton House, the Feilden family's new residence some
450m to the west. Witton Old Hall was then advertised to let as Witton
Hall Milk Farm in 1803/4. In 1849 the hall was marked as `in ruins' on the
First Edition Ordnance Survey Map and by 1875 it was recorded as being
used as a barn. The upstanding remains of Witton Old Hall include the
lower courses of a sandstone-built structure approximately 25m in length
with walls up to a maximum of about 1.5m high which is divided into three
parts. The central and largest part may have functioned as a barn; it has
a wide doorway in its south wall and a blocked doorway of similar width in
its north wall. There is a narrower doorway at its south east corner.
Internally the barn is floored with a combination of sandstone flags and
brick. Abutting the barn on the east side is a smaller building, now
partially floored with concrete, with a doorway in its south wall and
another doorway in its west wall which leads into the barn. There are
also blocked doorways in its north and east walls. To the west of the barn
there is a building interpreted as a house which projects further
northwards than the rest of the range. It is brick-floored and has two
entrances in its south wall and an entrance in its east wall leading into
the barn. To the south of this range of buildings is a yard partially
floored with cobbles. Towards the centre of the yard is a well surrounded
by sandstone flags and nearby is a large stone watering trough. The east
and west walls of the building range continue south to form a wall
surrounding the yard. Access into the yard is through a gateway in the
east side flanked by sandstone gateposts. Immediately south of this
gateway and outside the yard wall are the largely earth-covered walls of a
small stone-built structure. Further buried remains associated with Witton
Old Hall are considered to extend southwards for a short distance into
A chestnut fence around the upstanding ruins and the surface of an
allotment track 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.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
- Legacy System number:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Farrer, W, Brownbill, J (eds), The Victoria History of the County of Lancashire, (1911), 264-5
Wilson, R D S, The Feildens of Witton Park
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing