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
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
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
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 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
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)
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