Site of the medieval manor house and associated buildings of Kingston Lacy


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
North of Kingston Lacy House, Kingston Lacy, Wimborne, BH21 4EA


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Statutory Address:
North of Kingston Lacy House, Kingston Lacy, Wimborne, BH21 4EA

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

Dorset (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:


The monument includes the earthworks and buried remains of the medieval manor house and associated buildings of the inner court at Kingston Lacy.

Reasons for Designation

The earthworks and buried remains of the medieval manor house and associated ancillary buildings of the inner court, 55m north of the current Kingston Lacy House, are scheduled for the following principal reasons:

* Survival: the inner court of a high-status medieval residence where the buried remains are undisturbed by later activity and are therefore extremely well-preserved;

* Potential: partial excavation has indicated that the archaeological remains will provide evidence for the construction, layout and use of the site throughout its history and provide an important insight into the lives of its inhabitants;

* Documentation: its history is well-documented in historical sources which catalogue royal visits, new buildings, modifications and repairs; added to this, it has been the subject of archaeological investigations and detailed research;

* Historic interest: for its historic association with the highest echelons of medieval society, including royalty, from at least the C12.


Kingston Lacy, as it was to become known, was part of an extensive royal estate from the Saxon period and is referred to as Kingestune and Kyngeston in documents of 1170 and 1176 respectively. The manor of Kingston Lacy was granted to a number of important and influential families over the centuries. In 1212 it was awarded by King John to Henry fitz Count, illegitimate son of Reginald de Dunstanville, Earl of Cornwall, but on his death the estate reverted to the Crown. In 1229 it was granted to John de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln, one of the twenty five barons appointed in 1215 to ensure that the statutes of the Magna Carta were carried into effect and observed. Edward I is understood to have visited Kingston Lacy on at least 5 occasions; the third earl, Henry de Lacy (1249-1311), being a confidant of the king and after whom Kingston Lacy is likely to have been so named. In the mid-C14 it became part of the Duchy of Lancaster estates, coming into the possession of John of Gaunt, fourth son of Edward III, when he was created Duke of Lancaster in 1362 and he stayed there on a number of occasions. It was subsequently granted by Henry V in 1414 to Henry Beaufort (d.1447) Bishop of Winchester, later a Cardinal, and the illegitimate son of John of Gaunt. Edward IV took possession of Duchy of Lancaster lands in 1461, granting Kingston Lacy to his brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Sources indicate that Richard’s illegitimate son John was granted an annuity of £20 from Kingston Lacy during the first year of Henry VII's reign in 1485. The King then granted Kingston Lacy and the neighbouring manor of Canford to his mother, Margaret Beaufort, then styled Countess of Richmond and Derby and it was Canford that became the administrative centre for both estates.

It is unclear when Kingston Lacy fell into decline, but an inquisition of Henry VII in 1493 records that ‘And we are given to understand that the mansion or our manor at Kingston Lacy and the chapel of the manor in which the chaplain was wont to celebrate are very much in ruin and decay.’ Some two years later stone and lime were being sold for buildings in Wimborne Minster, and by the early C16 much of its open hunting land had been enclosed. Leland noted in 1535 that ‘it is now a maner clerely defacid.’ The estate remained in the hands of the Crown until 1603; Sir Edmund Uvedale being appointed keeper of Kingston Lacy in 1598; however in 1603 it was granted by James I to Charles Blount, Earl of Devon. His son, Mountjoy Blount, first Earl of Newport, sold the property in two parcels in 1626 and 1636 to Sir John Bankes (1589-1644), a Cumbrian lawyer who also purchased Corfe Castle in 1635. In 1663 his son Ralph built the current house at Kingston Lacy.

The location of the medieval house was identified in the late C20 and was investigated through documentary research, geophysical (resistivity) and earthwork surveys and a small-scale excavation (1997, Papworth). These confirmed the presence of earthworks and buried archaeological remains associated with the manor house which stood together with a number of ancillary buildings in an area called Court Close to the north and north-west of the current Kingston Lacy House (listed at Grade I), with a medieval deer park beyond. Surviving historic documents, including late-C13 to mid-C15 account rolls, provide detailed records of the manorial buildings; the types of repairs carried out to them and their layout. They variously refer to the house, a chapel, kitchen, bakehouse and inner stable situated within a courtyard that was enclosed by a cob wall which contained two gateways. A pantry, buttery and counting house are also mentioned, but it is not known whether they were detached structures. The documents provide evidence for alterations and additions to some of the buildings over time and that the house and chapel were built of stone; the rest of the structures were most probably timber framed. There are also references to an outer court or bailey which was enclosed by a hedge and contained a number of buildings including, at various times, stables, barns, cattle shed workshops and at least one granary, as well as stock enclosures. The site of the medieval house is not depicted on Woodward’s plan of Kingston Lacy of 1773-74. At least two buildings are shown to the north-east of the site, but they are not extant and it is unclear if they are surviving medieval structures of the outer court or if they post-date the abandonment of the manor house.

The site of the manor house and its immediate environs was subject to some landscaping associated with the current house at Kingston Lacy from the mid-C17 to the C19, including the establishment of rides or drives and an avenue, as well as the other parkland features such as a series of pools and a ha ha. Some of them partly overlie the medieval site. A Roman road which survives as a linear earthwork also cuts across the site, while a modern car park, screened in places by earth bunds, has been laid out to the west.


PRINCIPAL ELEMENTS The monument includes the slight earthworks and buried remains of the medieval manor house and associated ancillary buildings of the inner court at Kingston Lacy. The site is situated within gently undulating parkland, in an area known historically as Court Close, to the north and north-west of the present Kingston Lacy House.

DESCRIPTION A number of earthworks, including a low platform that is roughly square on plan, slight terraces and several smaller platforms, are visible in the area to the north of the current Kingston Lacy House. These correspond broadly with the location of the high resistance features recorded during the geophysical survey undertaken in 1996. This confirmed the location of the house which was found to have approximate dimensions of 40m north-south and 25m west-east. It also identified further buried features which have been interpreted as the remains of other possible buildings within the inner court and the boundary walls of this enclosure. A small excavation in 1997 on the site of the manor house itself uncovered a length of walling, some 1.3m wide, that was faced with Heathstone ashlar and had a flint rubble core. Building debris such as dressed stone, roofing tiles, mortar and fragments of painted plaster and a series of floor surfaces were also uncovered. Artefacts found during the excavation included medieval and post-medieval pottery sherds, glazed floor tiles, animal and fish bones and shells.

EXTENT OF SCHEDULING The area of protection aims to include the earthworks and buried archaeological remains relating to the buildings of the inner court of the medieval house at Kingston Lacy. The scheduled area therefore forms a roughly-triangular shaped parcel with maximum dimensions of 200m from north-west to south-east at its widest point and 220m from north-east to south-west. To the west it follows the approach road to the current Kingston Lacy House and to the south it follows the boundary fence in front of the house. The eastern boundary is defined by the known extent of archaeological remains that are evident on the geophysical survey together with a 5m margin for the monument’s support and protection, while to the north it follows the course of a ha ha.

Further below-ground archaeology, including possible structures and features associated with the outer court, are likely to lie beyond the monument boundary, but at the present time we do not have sufficient evidence to establish the character and extent of these remains or to justify their inclusion in the scheduled area. Should further evidence of archaeological survival and potential come to light, the extent of the scheduling may be reconsidered.

EXCLUSIONS All fence posts are excluded from the scheduling; however the ground beneath these features is included.


Books and journals
John Williams, 1856, Ancient and Modern Denbigh: A Descriptive History of the Castle, Borough, and Liberties, pp 45
Papworth, M, 'The medieval manorial buildings of Kingston Lacy: Survey and Excavation results with an Analysis of the Medieval Account Rolls 1295-1462' in Proceedings of Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society, , Vol. 120, (1998), 45-62
Papworth, M, 'Uncovering the home of John of Gaunt' in British Archaeology, , Vol. 46, (1999), 12-13
Bankes of Kingston Lacy and Corfe Castle, ref D-BKL, Dorset Archives & Local Studies, accessed 18 June 2019 from
Beaufort, Margaret [known as Lady Margaret Beaufort], Countess of Richmond and Derby, accessed 25 September 2019 from
Lacy, John de, third earl of Lincoln, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, accessed 25 September 2019 from
M. Papworth, June 1998, An analysis of the Kingston Lacy account roll 1295-1462 to reconstruct the layout of the manorial buildings and understand the medieval community that lived and worked there. MA Local History dissertation


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

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