Wyke monastic grange and section of 18th century turnpike road, 780m south of Tudor Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020967

Date first listed: 16-Jul-2003


Ordnance survey map of Wyke monastic grange and section of 18th century turnpike road, 780m south of Tudor Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Oxfordshire

District: Vale of White Horse (District Authority)

Parish: Great Faringdon

National Grid Reference: SU 28909 96629


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

Reasons for Designation

A monastic grange was a farm owned and run by a monastic community and independent of the secular manorial system of communal agriculture and servile labour. The function of granges was to provide food and raw materials for consumption within the parent monastic house itself, and also to provide surpluses for sale for profit. The first monastic granges appeared in the 12th century but they continued to be constructed and used until the Dissolution. This system of agriculture was pioneered by the Cistercian order but was soon imitated by other orders. Some granges were worked by resident lay-brothers (secular workers) of the order but others were staffed by non-resident labourers. The majority of granges practised a mixed economy but some were specialist in their function. Five types of grange are known: agrarian farms, bercaries (sheep farms), vaccaries (cattle ranches), horse studs and industrial complexes. A monastery might have more than one grange and the wealthiest houses had many. Frequently a grange was established on lands immediately adjacent to the monastery, this being known as the home grange. Other granges, however, could be found wherever the monastic site held lands. On occasion these could be located at some considerable distance from the parent monastery. Granges are broadly comparable with contemporary secular farms although the wealth of the parent house was frequently reflected in the size of the grange and the layout and architectural embellishment of the buildings. Additionally, because of their monastic connection, granges tend to be much better documented than their secular counterparts. No region was without monastic granges. The exact number of sites which originally existed is not precisely known but can be estimated, on the basis of numbers of monastic sites, at several thousand. Of these, however, only a small percentage can be accurately located on the ground today. Of this group of identifiable sites, continued intensive use of many has destroyed much of the evidence of archaeological remains. In view of the importance of granges to medieval rural and monastic life, all sites exhibiting good archaeological survival are identified as nationally important.

The curia of Wyke monastic grange near Faringdon is documented as having been one of the largest and best examples of its class in England and from comparison to the surviving buildings at the smaller contemporary site at Coxwell its scale can be appreciated. Although no buildings survive above ground, aerial photography, artefact recording from fieldwalking and limited excavation have shown that archaeological evidence survives relating to the extent, construction, occupation and economy of the site. In addition, the 400m long earthwork section of medieval and later turnpike road provides a good archaeological survival of a transport context for the site which relied on the ability to move produce from the grange to market.


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


The monument includes the known extent of the estate centre or `curia' of Wyke monastic grange, and a section of 18th century turnpike road situated by the Faringdon to Radcot road on a ridge of Corallian stone overlooking the Thames valley to the north. The grange was the largest of five which belonged to the Cistercian abbey at Beaulieu in the New Forest. This abbey was originally founded on an ancient Royal estate at Faringdon in 1202 by King John. However, the abbey building was never completed and when it was finally established at Beaulieu, the lands in Faringdon (then part of the old Royal County of Berkshire) remained the property of the abbey and were administered, as part of its estates, by two large and three smaller granges. The site of Wyke was the largest and most important of these granges. The second largest at Coxwell still has an impressive stone aisled barn, acknowledged to be one of the largest medieval agricultural buildings in Europe. The location of Wyke grange remained unknown until August 1990 when aerial photographs taken by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England identified the outline of a major series of buildings and enclosures in agricultural land less than 1km north of Faringdon. Subsequent documentary research, a review of 1940s air photographs and limited field investigation clearly identified the site as the curia at the core of Wyke grange. The extent of the remains is known from cropmarks - variations in crop growth reflecting the presence of buried wall foundations, ditches and other features. These show an enclosure of at least 350m from north to south and 250m from east to west with a broad ditched and banked entrance way running to the Radcot road. Within the enclosure can be seen a series of rectangular buildings of several different phases of activity. The longest of these ranges can be traced for nearly 100m in length and is sub-divided into a series of large rooms. It also appears from the aerial photographs that the buildings were set around a square courtyard or cloister and it has been suggested that the grange incorporated the unfinished buildings of the original abbey of Faringdon. Documentary records indicate the grange was 1800 acres (728ha) in size and that the buildings forming its core included barns, a seigneurial residence or manor, a great granary, a dairy employing seven milkmaids, stables, a dovecote and a chapel. Finds of glazed tile, roof tiles and pottery from the site suggest that the south range of buildings was the residential section, while the north to south aligned buildings may well have included the barns as their dimensions are similar to that of the great barn at Coxwell. Other buildings on the farm estate included a windmill and a watermill, both with their own farmsteads. These lay elsewhere within the grange remote from the estate centre. The grange curia remained in use throughout the medieval period and underwent several phases of rebuilding. In 1534 it was leased by Beaulieu Abbey to the Pleydells of Coleshill, a local gentry family and ancestors to the present earldom of Radnor. After the Dissolution the land was sold to Alexander Unton and in 1584 his brother Sir Henry Unton, Queen Elizabeth I's ambassador to France, bought Wyke for the large sum of 3,500 pounds. It was during this time that the curia was converted to a large country house and the nearby Tudor Farm was probably built to run the farm. The house was occupied until at least 1600 but had gone out of use and become derelict by 1750. Substantial earthwork banks, a rectangular pond, ridge and furrow and other earthwork features survived until 1945 but were subsequently levelled by heavy ploughing. The remnants of these survive as earthworks in the edge of Grove Wood to the south. They run about 45m into the tree line before reaching what appears to be the southern boundary of the main curia enclosure. The turnpike road was established in 1771 on the line of the old medieval Faringdon to Radcot road and survives for a 400m section to the west of the present road as a visible earthwork. This road ran north to the 13th century Radcot bridge, administered for the abbey by the grange at Wyke and still in use today. During the medieval period it was the main route by which abbey employees and produce were transported to and from the curia. All modern post and wire fences, the modern road surface and all gate posts are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all of 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: 30838

Legacy System: RSM


Discussion in NMRC, Soffe, G, Wyke, (1999)
NMR SU 29 NE 15, Soffe, G, Wyke, (1998)

End of official listing