Hall Close: a medieval and post-medieval hall complex south of Dovecote Lane, with dovecote, gardens, fishponds, churchyard and cultivation remains


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1021080

Date first listed: 08-Sep-2003


Ordnance survey map of Hall Close: a medieval and post-medieval hall complex south of Dovecote Lane, with dovecote, gardens, fishponds, churchyard and cultivation remains
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Lincolnshire

District: North Kesteven (District Authority)

Parish: Aubourn Haddington and South Hykeham

National Grid Reference: SK 91281 62769


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

Reasons for Designation

Medieval manorial settlements supported communities primarily devoted to agriculture, and acted as the foci for manorial administration. These settlements provide information on the diversity of medieval settlement patterns and farming economy, and on the structure and changing fortunes of manorial communities. The remains of the two medieval manors at Haddington are associated with both earlier settlement, as indicated by the presence of Anglo-Saxon remains, and later settlement, in the form of Haddington Hall; the site therefore represents a rare survival of well-preserved settlement remains extending over a period of more than a thousand years. In conjunction with the ridge-and-furrow of its surrounding fields, the site will tell us how the settlement developed, both economically and socially, over a long period. As a result of extensive historical research these features are quite well understood. They survive well in the form of substantial earthworks and buried deposits, and limited activity in modern times means that archaeological remains will survive relatively undisturbed.

The dovecote associated with Haddington Hall survives well as a structure, the only building of the settlement complex to remain above ground. Dovecotes are specialised structures designed for the breeding and keeping of doves as a source of food and as a symbol of high social status; they are thus frequently sited at manor houses and monasteries. Most surviving dovecotes are considered to be of national interest; they are also generally regarded as an important component of local distinctiveness and character.

The medieval chapel of St Nicholas at Haddington was one of around 4000 parochial chapels built in England between the 12th and 17th centuries. Parochial chapels served as subsidiary places of worship for the convenience of parishioners who lived at a distance from the main parish church. Other chapels were built as private places of worship by manorial lords and lie near or within manor houses, castles or other high-status residences. Some chapels possessed burial grounds. Unlike parish churches, the majority of which remain in ecclesiastical use, chapels were often abandoned as their communities and supporting finances declined or disappeared. In common with parish churches, however, they have always been major features of the landscape. A significant number of surviving examples are therefore identified as being nationally important. The sites of abandoned chapels, where positively identified, are particularly worthy of statutory protection as they were often left largely undisturbed and thus retain important information about the nature and date of their use up to their abandonment.

The medieval and post-medieval settlement remains at Hall Close are also associated with those of a fishpond complex. A fishpond is an artificially created pool of slow-moving freshwater constructed for the purpose of cultivating, breeding and storing fish to provide a constant and sustainable supply of food. The size of the pond was related to function, with large ponds thought to have had a storage capability whilst smaller, shallower ponds were used for fish cultivation and breeding; islands were used for fishing, wildfowl management or as shallow spawning areas. The tradition of constructing and using fishponds in England began during the medieval period and peaked in the 12th century. They were largely built by the wealthy sectors of society; most were located close to villages, manors or monasteries or within parks so that a watch could be kept on them to prevent poaching. Most fishponds fell out of use during the post-medieval period, although some were reused as ornamental features. Although approximately 2000 examples are recorded nationally, this is thought to be only a small proportion of those in existence in medieval times. Surviving examples are considered to be important for the information they preserve about economy, society and environment at relatively high-status sites.

The fishponds at Hall Close are set within a formal garden of the early 17th century. Gardens have a long history in England. The major development in gardening took place in the late medieval and early post-medieval periods when the idea of the garden as a `pleasure ground' developed. Some involved significant water-management works to create elaborate water gardens which could include a series of ponds and even ornamental canal systems. At other sites, flower gardens were favoured, with planting in elaborately shaped and often geometrically laid out beds; buried remains may include details of the planting patterns, and even environmental material from which to identify the species employed. Such sites were often provided with raised walkways or prospect mounds which provided vantage points from which the garden design and layout could be seen and fully appreciated. Garden design often mirrors elements of the design of the associated house, particularly following the symmetry of the buildings; walled closes of stone or brick sometimes also served as the forecourt of the main house. Formal gardens were created as a routine accompaniment of the country seats of the landed elite, and thus have a particular importance reflecting the social expectations and aspirations of the period. They provide a valuable insight into contemporary aesthetics and views about how the landscape could be modified to enhance the surroundings of a house and symbolise social hierarchy. In view of the rarity of surviving examples, and their importance for understanding high-status houses and their occupants, formal gardens are normally considered to be of national importance where the principal features remain visible, or where significant buried remains survive. When no longer in use they are considered for scheduling.


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


The monument includes Hall Close, an area of over 11ha situated between Dovecote Lane and the River Witham. Hall Close is the site of Haddington Hall, an early 17th century manor house of the Nevile family. The Hall and its formal gardens incorporated the remains of two earlier manor houses, West Hall and East Hall, which were acquired by the Neviles in 1575 and 1604 respectively. After 1628, when the Neviles bought the manor at Aubourn and moved to Aubourn Hall, Haddington Hall was leased out until at least 1675. By the mid-18th century it appears to have fallen into disrepair. An estate map of 1850 shows that a number of buildings formerly part of the hall complex were still standing, including the dovecote, which was still in use at that time. In the mid-20th century the roof of the dovecote blew down and the remaining buildings were demolished. The scheduling includes the standing remains of the dovecote, the earthwork and buried remains of Haddington Hall and the manor houses which preceded it, together with associated gardens, moated fishponds and cultivation remains; it also includes underlying settlement remains of early medieval date and the site of the medieval chapel of St Nicholas, which stood at the north eastern corner of the monument.

At the time of the Domesday Book there were two holdings in Haddington; that of the soke of the manor of Aubourn was held by Robert de Todeni of Belvoir, and the other, held by Ailric of the soke of the manor of Doddington Pigot, passed to the honour of Wake, barons of Bourne. The Belvoir holding is associated with East Hall, attached to Aubourn parish, and the Wake holding with West Hall, attached to South Hykeham parish. By the mid-13th century these holdings had become fragmented, and in 1504 there was only one manor in Haddington. In the 15th century the site is referred to as `Westhall Garthes', and in 1554 the first reference is made to a dovecote, owned by William Badger, who occupied East Hall. The present dovecote may have originated at this time, although it may equally represent a rebuilding associated with the establishment of Haddington Hall in the late 16th or early 17th century.

The dovecote is a stone structure 6 sq m in plan, now unroofed. The walls are constructed of roughly-dressed limestone laid in courses, now standing to a height of 3.5m and resting on a foundation of large undressed limestone blocks. At a height of about 2m is a projecting string-course which served to deter vermin. In the east wall is a low doorway which gave access to the interior; a window-like opening in the north wall is a modern construction. The interior of the dovecote now contains about 450-500 nest boxes, also constructed of limestone, with square openings and projecting flight ledges. In the early 20th century the dovecote is thought to have had a tiled pyramidal roof with a louvred flight-hole at the apex.

The dovecote stands near the centre of a broad rectangular platform, about 100m by 70m, which extends along the south side of Dovecote Lane. Until the mid-20th century this area was occupied by a series of farm buildings and cottages believed to have originated as part of the Haddington Hall complex. It is bounded on the south by a ditch and later pond, and on the east by a sunken trackway extending southwards from Dovecote Lane. This trackway represents the central access to the complex. It leads to a second platform, about 80m by 70m, adjacent to the south of the first, on which is a series of substantial earthworks representing the buried remains of a rectangular building, about 60m long by 20m wide and aligned north-south, partly cut into by the later pond. A third enclosure adjacent to the east, also about 80m by 70m, includes further rectilinear building remains aligned east-west, together with a sunken yard. This series of earthworks is thought to represent Haddington Hall, which in 1658 was described as having a library, hall, kitchen, pantry, dairy, three chambers, a closet, brewhouse and stables. This suggests a much larger complex than that of West Hall described 70 years earlier, which had a hall, parlour, kitchen, larder and pantry, two chambers upstairs and a bakehouse and milkhouse at the rear. Haddington Hall and its service buildings may therefore represent a substantial rebuilding of the sites of both East Hall and West Hall, which are thought to have been located on the east and west sides of the trackway respectively.

To the north of the sunken yard is a fourth enclosure, about 80 sq m, which completes the group of rectangular enclosures centred on the trackway. It is subdivided into smaller enclosures, thought to have been used for cultivation and paddocks; that immediately adjacent to the trackway includes traces of ridged cultivation, possibly of earlier date, while that to the west includes a pond of modern origin. A second trackway separates these two enclosures from a raised area adjacent to Dovecote Lane where buried remains of dwellings are believed to be located. Limited archaeological investigation in the north eastern part of the monument revealed evidence of settlement in the Anglo- Saxon period.

In the north eastern corner of the monument is the site of the chapel of St Nicholas, first referred to in 1233 as dependent on the church of St Michael at South Hykeham. In the late 13th century it was given to the nunnery of St Nicholas at Torksey. It is last known to have been used in 1775, and had been demolished by 1850 when an estate map marked the extent of the former churchyard, a rectangular area about 30m wide and 40m long. At the northern end of the churchyard is a raised platform measuring about 10m by 30m and aligned east-west; this is thought to represent the location of the buried remains of the chapel.

The complex of enclosures associated with Haddington Hall can thus be seen to occupy an area over 150 sq m immediately south of Dovecote Lane. Further south, however, is another series of earthworks representing the remains of the formal gardens associated with the hall. A rectangular embanked enclosure, about 70m long and 60m wide, extends southwards from the remains of the hall down the natural slope towards the river. In its southern half is a central mound, about 0.8m high and 5m in diameter, thought to represent a prospect mound. The banks and ditches on the east and west sides of this garden extend southwards to the edge of the river where they enclose a moated site containing two linear fishponds. The moat is 8m-13m wide and 1.7m deep, enclosing a rectangular island about 30m by 40m within which the two ponds are located, 30m long and aligned east-west. This fishpond complex is believed to be medieval in origin, constructed in the former course of the river in association with one of the medieval manors at Haddington. It was later incorporated into the formal garden layout established south of Haddington Hall, probably in the early 17th century, with the addition of an outer `moat' or ornamental canal along its western side.

Immediately west of the moated fishpond complex and garden earthworks is an area of ridge-and-furrow cultivation; the ridges are aligned approximately north-south and are about 6m in width. Adjacent to the west of this furlong, and occupying the whole of the western part of Hall Close, is a much larger furlong aligned north west-south east, in which the ridges are 7m-8m wide and 0.5m high. A linear bank running along the western edge of Hall Close represents a headland which also served as an access track. The northern part of this furlong has been altered by post-medieval and modern activity adjacent to the former farm buildings, including access trackways, ponds and drainage channels.

All fences, gates and information boards are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them 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: 22771

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing