Watford Park: C18 garden remains overlying the shrunken medieval village of Watford and associated ridge and furrow cultivation


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Watford Park: C18 garden remains overlying the shrunken medieval village of Watford and associated ridge and furrow cultivation
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Daventry (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SP 60122 69191

Reasons for Designation

Post-medieval gardens are garden arrangements which date between the early C16 and mid-C18, their most characteristic feature being a core of geometric layout, typically located and orientated in relation to the major residences of which they formed the settings. Garden designs of this period are varied, although most contain a number of recognisable components. For the C16 and C17, the most common features are flat-topped banks or terraces, waterways, closely set ponds and multi-walled enclosures. Late C17 and C18 gardens often reflect the development of these ideas and contain multiple terraces and extensive water features, as well as rigidly geometrical arrangements of embankments. Other features fashionable across the period include: earthen mounds used as vantage points to view the house and gardens: moats surrounding areas of planting; walled closes of stone and brick and garden buildings such as banqueting houses and pavilions. Planted areas were commonly arranged in geometric beds, or parterres, in patterns which incorporated hedges, paths and sometimes ponds, fountains and statuary. By contrast, other areas were sometimes set aside as romantic wildernesses. Formal gardens were created throughout the period by the royal court, the aristocracy and country gentry, as a routine accompaniment of the country seats of the landed elite. Formal gardens of all sizes were once commonplace, and their numbers may have comfortably exceeded 2000. The radical redesign of many gardens to match later fashions has dramatically reduced this total, and little more than 250 examples are currently known in England. Although one of many post-medieval monument types, formal gardens have a particular importance reflecting the social expectations and aspirations of the period. They represent a significant and illuminating aspect of the architectural and artistic tastes of the time and illustrate the skills which developed to realise the ambitions of their owners. Surviving evidence may take many forms, including standing structures, earthworks and buried remains; the latter may include details of the planting patterns and even environmental material from which to identify the species cultivated. Examples of formal gardens will normally be considered to be of national importance where the principal features remain visible or where significant buried remains survive; of these parts of the whole garden no longer in use will be considered for scheduling. The village was a significant component of the rural landscape in most areas of medieval England. Although the sites of many villages have been occupied continuously down to the present day, many have declined considerably in size, particularly since of C14 and C15. The reasons for diminishing size were varied but often reflected declining economic viability or population fluctuations. As a consequence of their decline, parts of these villages are frequently undisturbed by later occupation and contain well-preserved archaeological deposits. The significance of the shrunken medieval village remains at Watford is amplified by the adjoining ridge and furrow, evidence of an extensive medieval cultivation system which takes the form of parallel rounded ridges separated by furrows and which provided rich, well-drained land for planting crops. In the context of the settlement, the headlands of the open-field systems will provide important information regarding the layout and chronology of the agricultural regime upon which the settlement depended. The earthwork and buried archaeological remains of the C18 gardens, shrunken medieval village and ridge and furrow at Watford survive well. Supporting evidence in the form of earthwork survey, the mapping of parch marks and documentary and cartographic sources enables clear interpretation of the remains and attests to their national importance. As the archaeological remains have lain undisturbed beneath open parkland since the early C19, there is a high potential to inform on the nature of medieval settlement and agricultural practice and the design and structural components of the C18 formal garden. The archaeological remains of the medieval and C18 period have group value with each other and with the listed structures associated with Watford Court, itemised above. SOURCES Addison, C. Watford Court and Park (unpublished report c1995, Northamptonshire Records Office) Hall, D. The Open Fields of Northamptonshire: The Case for the Preservation of Ridge and Furrow. 1983 Jacques, D 'Late C17/early C18 Parks; An investigation into their nature, survival and vulnerabilities'. (Internal E-11-report, 2003) RCHME. An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Northampton: Vol III Archaeological Sites in North-West Northamptonshire. 1981., pp 191-3 Maps John Morton. A Natural History of Northants - map of 1712. Clement Wilson. A Survey of Watford Park in the County of Northampton belonging to Edward Clerke Esq. 1740 (Northamptonshire Record Office NRO map 3161). James Colleridge. An Exact Map of Watford Inclosures in the County of Norhampton belonging to William Cartwright Esq. Surveyed 1760 (NRO map 3159) William Cullingworth. An accurate Plan of the New Inclosures of Watford and Muscott in the County of Northamptonshire surveyed in the year 1771 (NRO map 3158b) Plan of the Watford Park Estate Situate in the Parish of Watford, The Property of Henry Pilkington Esq purchased by Lord Henley March 23 1836 (NRO map 3162). Tithe Map of the Parish of Watford, 1847 (NRO map T41) Map of the Parishes of Watford and Crick c 1860 (NRO map 3160) Map showing Lord Henley's Watford Estate, 1885 (NRO map 3217)


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of two phases of designed landscape of the C18 which overlie part of the shrunken medieval village of Watford and its associated ridge and furrow cultivation. The monument is now open parkland. The designed landscape was associated with Watford Court, a Grade II country house of C16 origins, demolished with permission in the 1970s. Although the site of the house and the area of C19 formal shrubbery to the north have been developed for modern housing, the gate piers to the Court, the enclosure wall, walled kitchen garden and coach house are all listed at Grade II. The earthworks were surveyed by the Royal Commission in 1981 and the National Mapping Project has recorded the extent of visible parch marks. Parch marks are caused by thinner crop growth over solid features such as masonry, showing up on aerial photographs, or thicker crop growth over buried features such as ditches. All of the information is documented in the Northamptonshire Historic Environment Record. Further documentary and cartographic evidence attests to the survival of the garden remains. Watford village lies to the east of Watford Gap on Middle Lias clays and silts. From at least the C13, the parish included three settlements all of which had pre-Domesday origins. Murcott lay to the south-east and Silsworth to the north, both subservient to the township of Watford which lay approximately at the centre of the parish. Silsworth was deserted early and enclosed in the C15. Most of the demesne of Watford formed a block of land next to the manor house which was first enclosed in 1595. The desire to create a park, mentioned in 1640, resulted in further complex land swaps and enclosure in 1644 with the remaining part of the township surviving until parliamentary enclosure (along with Murcott) in 1771 which related to emparkment. The earthwork remains of the medieval village are adjacent to, and south of, Kilsby Road, which dissects the park. They comprise four small rectangular closes, bounded by low scarps or shallow ditches with former building platforms at their north ends. In the westernmost close are the buried foundations of a rectangular stone building. To the rear are small paddocks and a hollow way is evident aligned with the south side of the road. To the north of Kilsby Road are three other small closes which have slight indications of building platforms. Contiguous with the settlement remains are pre-enclosure ridge and furrow comprises several pronounced furlongs with headlands and joints. Watford Court was sold to Sir George Clerke in the early C17 who enclosed much of the Watford Lordship in 1644. The depiction of the estate in a very small scale map in J. Morton's 'Natural history of Northants' of 1712 shows a park west of Watford Court between Park Lane and Kilsby Road. The first detailed plan of the park is of 1740, a survey of the parkland then belonging to Edward Clerke, showing a rigid formal layout which probably includes earlier C18 features. The parkland was divided into three areas named the Upper Park, Park Meadow and the Home Park, united by a western avenue of trees. The earthwork and buried remains of the C18 garden depicted in the cartographic evidence lie in the former Park Meadow and Home Park areas, closest to the site of the Court. The principal driveway to Watford Court is preserved as a parchmark and earthwork; the original tree avenue which lined the route has been felled, but has been replanted with saplings. It seems likely that the drive crossed the canal by a bridge, the buried archaeological remains of which are expected to survive. Near to the site of the house, the drive survives as a broad hollow-way up to 2m deep. To the east is the earthwork of a canal aligned north-south which was probably fed by the brook through a watercourse near to the south boundary of the park. At the north extent of the canal, on its west side, is the earthwork of a rectangular water feature, possibly moated with a central platform. To the east of the canal, south of the driveway, a double pond with islands is evident. As the driveway nears the site of the Court, it passes through terraced formal gardens and parterres which survive as raised, levelled platforms, bounded by scarps with double scarps on their steep west sides. Other earthworks and parch marks represent a possible mount, filled-in ponds, water management features and areas of former planting. The listed buildings at Watford Park all lie immediately west of the scheduled monument, outside the area of the scheduling. All fence posts 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.


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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.

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