Moated site and fishponds 15m south of Chesworth House


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1021446

Date first listed: 01-Jun-1967

Date of most recent amendment: 12-Nov-2009


Ordnance survey map of Moated site and fishponds 15m south of Chesworth House
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This copy shows the entry on 23-Jan-2019 at 20:50:15.


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

County: West Sussex

District: Horsham (District Authority)

National Grid Reference: TQ 17637 29397


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

Reasons for Designation

Around 6,000 moated sites are known in England. They consist of wide ditches, often or seasonally water-filled, partly or completely enclosing one or more islands of dry ground on which stood domestic or religious buildings. In some cases the islands were used for horticulture. The majority of moated sites served as prestigious aristocratic and seigneurial residences with the provision of a moat intended as a status symbol rather than a practical military defence. The peak period during which moated sites were built was between about 1250 and 1350 and by far the greatest concentration lies in central and eastern parts of England. However, moated sites were built throughout the medieval period, are widely scattered throughout England and exhibit a high level of diversity in their forms and sizes. They form a significant class of medieval monument and are important for the understanding of the distribution of wealth and status in the countryside. Many examples provide conditions favourable to the survival of organic remains.

Despite the moat being landscaped on the north, west and east sides, the moated site at Chesworth House survives well, especially the interior area where the most fragile archaeological deposits are expected, and it is a good example of its type. The central platform will contain archaeological features relating to the construction and occupation of the site, and the moat will contain archaeological information and environmental evidence in the form of organic remains such as leather, wood, seeds and pollen, which will relate both to the moated site and the landscape within which it was constructed. There are earthwork features to the north west of the site, not included in this scheduling, which have not yet been archaeologically evaluated, but may relate to water management on the site. The association of the moated site with the fishponds indicates that this was an important, or high status, site as do documentary sources such as the Calendar Patent 1324-7, the Calendar Inquisitiones post mortem vi and the Arundel Castle Manuscript A 1851. A fishpond is an artificially created pool constructed for the purpose of cultivating, breeding and storing fish to provide a constant supply of food. Groups of ponds can be found in a line or cluster, and may be of different sizes for different species or ages of fish. Fishponds were maintained by a water management system which included inlet and outlet channels, sluices and leats. The tradition of constructing and using fishponds in England began during the medieval period and peaked in the C12. They were largely built by the wealthy sectors of society, with monastic institutions and royal residences having particularly large and complex examples. The difficulties of obtaining fresh meat in the winter and the value placed on fish as a food source and for status may have been factors which favoured the development of fishponds and which made them so valuable. The practise of constructing fishponds declined after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the C16, although in some areas it continued into the C17. Most fishponds fell out of use during the post-medieval period, although some were re-used as ornamental features in C19 and early C20 landscape parks or gardens, or as watercress beds. Documentary sources provide a wealth of information about the way fishponds were stocked and managed. The main species of fish kept were eel, tench, pickerel, bream, perch and roach. Large quantities of fish could be supplied at a time. Once a year, probably in the spring, ponds were drained and cleared. Fishponds were widely scattered throughout England and extended into Scotland and Wales. The majority are found in central, eastern and southern parts. Although C17 manuals suggest that areas of waste ground were suitable for fishponds, in practice it appears that most fishponds were located close to villages, manors and monasteries or within parks so that a watch could be kept on them to prevent poaching. Although approximately 2000 examples are recorded nationally, this is thought to be only a small proportion of those in existence in the medieval period. Despite being relatively common, fishponds are important for their associations with other classes of medieval monument and in providing evidence of site economy. The three fishponds at Chesworth, despite landscaping and modification, are recognisable examples of their type. Their close grouping and association with the moated site provide evidence for the economy of the site and the management of fish stocks. Environmental evidence will be present which relate to the moated site, the fishponds and the landscape in which they were constructed.


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


The monument includes a moated site and three associated fishponds lying on the north bank of the River Arun south of Horsham. The moated site and fishponds comprise a rectangular group of features aligned north west - south east, with the fishponds lying on the south east side of the complex. The River Arun forms the south arm of the moat, and the moat island is artificially moated on the other three sides. Both the west and north arms of the moat have been landscaped and canalised, but both the scarp and counterscarp banks of the west arm of the moat and the south scarp of the north arm can be seen standing to about 1.5m high. The east end of the north arm is largely intact. The distance between the outer edges of the banks on the west arm is 19m, and the moat itself is 10m wide. The east arm of the moat is now part of one of the ponds, and there is a shallow depression 0.5m deep where the east end of the central island platform terminates 5m before the most westerly pond. The island platform in the centre of the moat measures about 85m north west - south east by 60m north east - south west, the ground surface is uneven, but there are no obvious archaeological features visible. The Inspector of Ancient Monuments in 1966 noted that foundations lie 0.25m below the surface. Landscaping at the east end of the site has created five ponds which are now merged into each other. Four of these lie parallel to each other aligned approximately north - south longitudinally and the fifth runs horizontally lengthways across the north side of the two most westerly ponds. The horizontally aligned pond is the remnant of the north arm of the moat at this east end, and one of the longitudinal ponds is the vestigial remains of the east arm of the moat. The fish ponds lie on either side of this east arm of the moat; two to the east and one to the west. The northern pond is about 47m long by 14m wide; the pond which formed the east arm of the moat is amalgamated into the westernmost pond and this expanse of water now measures approximately 37m north-south by 40m east-west. The two remaining ponds to the east measure about 8m east-west by 34m north-south and 11m by 16m. The moated site is that of a C13 moated house. The manor of Chesworth was held in 1281 by William, Lord Braose. Edward I is thought to have stayed at Chesworth in 1299 and Edward II in 1324. It was also held by the Mowbray and the Howard (later Fitzalan-Howard) families, including the Dukes of Norfolk and Earls of Arundel. The manor house which lay on the moated island was in existence by 1324, and possibly by 1299; a drawbridge was mentioned in 1427. It was abandoned in favour of the adjacent Chesworth House in the late C15. The three artificial arms of the moat, the fishponds and a small part of the north west corner of the island have been modified in the C20 during the construction of ornamental gardens. All above ground structures and hard landscaping such as ornamental steps, bridges, pergolas and sheds are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath 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: 28895

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing