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Historic England Research Records

Acton Court

Hob Uid: 201562
Location :
South Gloucestershire
Iron Acton
Grid Ref : ST6758184271
Summary : Court Farm is the state apartment and half the long gallery of a mid 16th century courtier house of considerable pretension. It exhibits important classical details comparable to those at Lacock and is surrounded by the ruins and below ground remains of the rest of the house. Iron Acton was the principal seat of one of the branches of the Poyntz family who were prominent at court for much of the 16th century. This explains why the house is of such high quality and in such an advanced style. Even in its incomplete and damaged state, it ranks among the half-dozen most important examples of the court style of the 1540s and 50s, a period that saw the introduction into England of the assured and distinctive classicism recently developed in France. The surviving house is in the midst of late 16th - early 17th century house, now farmhouse. It is of rubble construction with double Roman tile roofs. There are garden walls to the south and east and to the west are the earthworks of garden terraces.To the north are earthworks which may represent an associated farm/estate complex.
More information : [ST 6770 8420] Acton Court (NR) (1)

Acton Court is mostly a Tudor building: it has a 15thc. chapel
window and a 16th c. gateway. (2)

Acton Court is a remarkably high two storeyed house, apparently
of 16th c. date, which has been little altered. It is of some
architectural interest, but in a state of decay, the greater
part being covered by ivy. Only about a third is still
occupied. The chapel was at the southern extremity, and its
fine pointed window incorporating three ring-foil headed lights
is at the eastern end, at ST 67718418. The gateway is at ST
67768417.

See AO/62/19/1 for photograph of S.W. angle and stairs
projection of house; AO/62/19/2 for dove-boxes constructed
within buttress at N.W. extremity of house; and AO/62/19/3 for
gateway and part of S.E. frontage. (3)

Acton Court (NR) (4)

The manor house Acton Court was formerly the seat of the Poyntz
family. The manor dates back to the 11th century when held by
the Acton family who are thought to have taken possession soon
after the Conquest. (5)

It came into possession of the Poyntz family c.1344 and remained in their hands until temp Charles II. The present building is
still inhabited and in use as a farmhouse, but in a state of
decay, and is of interest as an example of a large early 17th
century dwelling whose arrangements seem to have been a
compromise between the usual medieval and post-medieval
patterns.

The only relics of an earlier date are the fine mid 15th
century floor tiles found in the farmyard in 1974 and an
apparently re-set Perpendicular window in the SE corner of the
house. Apart from this there is nothing earlier than the late
16th or early 17th century in the fabric.

There are clear signs of a wing at the south, of the same width
as that surviving at the north; it is probable that the 17th
century house was built round three sides of a quadrangle. (6)

G.V. II*

Farmhouse, former gentry house. Late C16/early C17, probably
incorporating earlier work. Main block cross passage L-plan (probably remains of U-plan). Grade II*.

Gateway. Late C16. Freestone and rubble. A 4-centred arch with
triple mouldings and a keystone and further moulded flat arch
architrave has highly decorated spandrels with shields and
foliage; frieze above has 3 square moulded recessed panels,
cornice is surmounted by pediment with central coat of arms.
Adjoining flank walls with soldier course coping. (7)

Iron Acton Court. The Poyntz family were lords of the Manor from
1344-1680. Their house was probably rebuilt in the 16th century and
altered in the 17th century. The large courtyard to the east of the
house is entered by a 4-centred archway. The house itself consists of a rectangular block with a north-west wing, and a projecting
stair-turret. The house has not been restored and in 1966 was in a
poor state of repair. (8)

ST 675814. A Survey of Acton Court was carried out in 1985 by B
Williams and J Bryant of Bristol City Museum, with assistance from
RCHME and the Bristol Visual and Environmental Buildings Trust. It revealed that entry to the substantial, but dilapidated early-mid 16th century house had been from the south, through a crenellated outer court, probably over a wet moat. Wings to the north, south, east and ? west of an irregular inner court are largely of 16th century date, possibly the work of Sir Nicholas Poyntz. Earthworks to the north of the house are probably the remains of formal gardens of the same period, and contain traces of a large rectangular structure - possibly a barn. Re-modelling of the house, in the late 16th/early 17th century, provided a new entrance in the east wing. Nearby cart sheds and dovecotes are largely of 18th or 19th century date. (9-11)

ST 687843. Acton Court, Iron Action - a series of garden earthworks
and other remains to the north and west of the house were surveyed by
R Iles in 1985. (See Illustration Card for plan). The house was
built around a small rectangular courtyard and only the east range
survives. A large courtyard to the south may have been the original
entrance and could have had retainers, lodgings and stabling, or it
might be a large enclosed garden. In 1985 the Bristol Visual and
Environmental Trust found a very elaborate sun-dial, dated 1520, it is the earliest garden sun-dial in England.

To the south and south-west of Acton Court is a series of medieval
fish ponds. To the north the earliest earthworks are rig and furrow,
which is overlain by two sets of linear features. There is also a
rectangular area of earthworks which may be the site of some
buildings, and further east, slight platforms, possibly sites of
cottages.

The other features of note are a pond just to the west of the court
and a narrow canal-like feature further west. The pond has a large
embankment on its west side and may be the remains of a moat. The
earthworks are less clear now than on 1946 air photographs due to
dumping. (12)

(ST 68708430) In Autumn 1986, the Bath Archaeological Trust began a
three year programme of excavations, directed by Rob Bell, at Iron
Acton Court. The house, which had recently passed into the care of
English Heritage, is a major example of early Renaissance
architecture. During 1986 and 1987 the excavations exposed
foundations of the destroyed west end of the Tudor house, the remains
of an earlier building on a different alignment, a rock-cut moat
surrounding the house on at least three sides, and a gatehouse in the
south range. A major programme of restoration has begun on the
surviving east and north wings. (13-16)

See Illustration Card for map of scheduled area. (17)

Additional reference. (18)

The garden walls to the south and east were Listed separately at Grade II under UID 1413221 (east walls) and 1413110 (south walls). (24)

Remains of medieval garden and water management features are visible as earthworks on historic aerial photographs and were mapped as part of the Severn Vale NMP project. Located immediately north of Acton Court and centred at ST 67637 84337, small blocks of what appear to be ridge and furrow cultivation within the grounds immediately north of Acton Court may be medieval in origin and appear to have been cut through by a water management system, possibly related to the former moat that contained an earlier demolished manorial site. One cultivation ridge (at ST 67705 84294) immediately north of the court buildings may have been reused to create what appears to be two possible pillow mounds (for rabbit breeding). Early 19th century OS maps indicate that some of the ridge and furrow blocks in the manor grounds were used for orcharding in compartmented gardens. Other bank and ditch fragments mapped within the grounds of the Court may represent remains of the former moat. A subcircular fishpond about 28.7 metres in diameter is centred at ST 67717 84343.A linear ditch and accompanying earthwork bank appear to extend westwards from the boundary of the manor (at ST 67598 84347) WNW for about 178 metres to the bridge where the B4059 road crosses over the railway line (at ST 67428 84404). The Ladden Brook is about 168 metres west of this point, so it may have been that the ditch was connected to the brook as part of the water management system for either the earlier medieval moat, or to provide water for the later medieval rebuilt and expanded manor house. Further curvilinear drainage ditches aligned WNW-SE about 240 metres long were visible in the field west of Acton Court in aerial photographs taken in 1946, centred at ST 67496 84233. Aerial photographs taken in 2010 show those earthworks within the Court grounds remain extant, but those in the fields west of Acton Court have been substantially plough levelled and were barely visible as cropmarks. (25-30)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1955
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : Sodbury Rural District, 7/25, 7/25 (a), NOV-1947
Page(s) : 27-28
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 11
Source : Post-medieval archaeology : the journal of the Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology
Source details : G Egan
Page(s) : 346-47
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 20, 1986
Source Number : 12
Source : Bristol & Avon archaeology
Source details : R Iles
Page(s) : 55, 56
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 20, 1986
Source Number : 13
Source : Council for British Archaeology Group 13: Newsletter
Source details : P Davenport
Page(s) : 11
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 105, 1986
Source Number : 14
Source : Archaeology today
Source details :
Page(s) : 18
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1987
Source Number : 15
Source : Bristol and Avon Archaeological Research Group bulletin
Source details :
Page(s) : 4
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : SPRING-SUMMER, 1987
Source Number : 16
Source : Bristol and Avon Archaeological Research Group bulletin
Source details :
Page(s) : 4
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 21, 1987-88
Source Number : 17
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : 26-Sep-95
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 18
Source : Post-medieval archaeology : the journal of the Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology
Source details :
Page(s) : 116-17
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 31, 1987
Source Number : 19
Source : Parks and gardens of Avon
Source details :
Page(s) : 15-16
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 20
Source : Fit for a king [Acton Court, Avon]
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 3
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 NVQ 23-JAN-62
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 21
Source : Textiles from Acton Court, Avon
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 22
Source : Analysis of vessel glass from Acton Court, Avon
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 23
Source : The tree-ring dating of Acton Court, Avon
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 24
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : District of Listing: South Gloucestershire. 18-Feb-2013
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 25
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : RAF/CPE/UK/1912 RS 4045-4046 30-DEC-1946
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 26
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : RAF/106G/UK/1416 RS 4393 14-APR-1946
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 27
Source : Oblique aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR 4789/14 30-OCT-1992
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 28
Source : Light detection and ranging (lidar) airborne survey
Source details : LIDAR ST 6684, 6784 Environment Agency 28-OCT-2010
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 29
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : One Inch Original Series 1830
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 30
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : Next Perspectives PGA Imagery ST 6784 23-APR-2010
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 4
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 1:10 000 1980
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 5
Source : Rescue archaeology in the Bristol area: 1. Roman, medieval, and later research organised by the City of Bristol Museum and Art Gallery
Source details : Williams B. Late Medieval Floor Tiles from Acton Court
Page(s) : 61-76
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : no.2
Source Number : 6
Source : The Archaeological Journal
Source details : N Burton
Page(s) : 329-32
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 134, 1977
Source Number : 7
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : Northavon, 27-NOV-1984
Page(s) : 9
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 314
Source Number : 8
Source : Gloucestershire, 2 : the Vale and the Forest of Dean
Source details :
Page(s) : 277-78
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 9
Source : Archaeology in Britain 1985
Source details :
Page(s) : 43
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 10
Source : Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society
Source details : B Williams
Page(s) : 240-41
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 104, 1986

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : 1540s - 1550s
Monument End Date : 1559
Monument Start Date : 1540
Monument Type : House, Garden Terrace, Farm, Garden Wall, Pillow Mound
Evidence : Architectural Component, Sub Surface Deposit, Earthwork, Ruined Building, Structure
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Post Medieval
Monument End Date : 1901
Monument Start Date : 1540
Monument Type : House, Garden Terrace, Farm, Garden Wall, Farmhouse
Evidence : Architectural Component, Earthwork, Sub Surface Deposit, Ruined Building, Structure, Extant Building
Monument Period Name : 20th Century
Display Date : 20th Century
Monument End Date : 2000
Monument Start Date : 1901
Monument Type : Farmhouse
Evidence : Extant Building

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : AV 186
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Avon)
External Cross Reference Number : 12
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Avon)
External Cross Reference Number : 3029
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Avon)
External Cross Reference Number : 3030
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Avon)
External Cross Reference Number : 3354
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Avon)
External Cross Reference Number : 4372
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Avon)
External Cross Reference Number : 12:3029:3030*
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : NBR Index Number
External Cross Reference Number : 76314
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 350704
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Designation Number
External Cross Reference Number : 1320155
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Designation Number
External Cross Reference Number : 1413221
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Designation Number
External Cross Reference Number : 1413110
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (South Gloucestershire)
External Cross Reference Number : 80478
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (South Gloucestershire)
External Cross Reference Number : 83995
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (South Gloucestershire)
External Cross Reference Number : 82591
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (South Gloucestershire)
External Cross Reference Number : 82985
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : ST 68 SE 2
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 201580
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1591045
Relationship type : General association

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON ST 68 SE 2
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1962-01-23
End Date : 1962-01-23
Associated Activities : Primary, ACTON COURT
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1974-01-01
End Date : 1974-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, ACTON COURT
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1985-01-01
End Date : 1989-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, ACTON COURT
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1987-01-01
End Date : 1987-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, ACTON COURT
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1990-01-01
End Date : 1999-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, ACTON COURT
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1996-01-01
End Date : 1997-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, LAND AT ACTON COURT
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2003-01-01
End Date : 2003-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, LAND AT ACTON COURT
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2006-01-01
End Date : 2006-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, LAND AT ACTON COURT
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2007-01-01
End Date : 2007-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, SEVERN VALE NMP
Activity type : AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION
Start Date : 2013-08-12
End Date : 2016-01-31