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Site of moated residence of the medieval bishops of Hereford, 570m west of Laxton Meadow Farm, Prestbury.
County: Gloucestershire
District: CHELTENHAM
Parish: PRESTBURY
NGR: SO 96 24
Monument Number: 460
HER 460 DESCRIPTION:-
Scheduled Monument Description:-(Formerly referred to as SAM161, Prestbury moated site).
The monument includes part of a moated site, containing the remains of the manor house of the Bishops of Hereford, situated 570m to the west of Laxton Meadow Farm and immediately to the east of Cheltenham Racecourse. The site comprises two adjoining rectangular, moated enclosures oriented north west to south east; both were originally surrounded by a continuous earthen bank. The southern part of both enclosures and the east side of the eastern area lie under and immediately around houses built between about 1900 and the 1960s. These areas are not included in the scheduling, except where visible earthwork remains survive.
The moat and its internal and external banks are most obvious in the north west corner of the western enclosure, where the moat is about 8m wide and both banks stand to about 1.5m high from the bottom of the usually waterfilled moat. The moat running south from this corner was filled in in 1983, although the external bank can be seen along the western edge of the site, standing about 1m high and between 6m and 8m wide. The south western corner has been slightly obscured by later landscaping, but a denuded bank can be seen in the front garden of a house called 'Monks meadow'. The moat and banks which divided the two enclosures are still visible, the moat surviving to about 2m wide and the banks standing to about 1.5m in height from the bottom of the moat. Some water also stands in the bottom of this part of the moat during winter. The moat and banks can be seen to extend southwards into the gardens of the properties known as 'The Little Monk' and 'Green Willows', as far as the access road running north from Park Lane. At this point the moat is about 2m wide with a gently sloping bank to the north. Within this eastern enclosure, the outline of the manorial fishpond is still visible as a round depression, about 20m in diameter. A channel, about 2m wide, runs from the pond northwards to drain into the moat. The eastern side of the pond, in which water still stands during the winter, has been truncated by a private garden.
The manor of Prestbury belonged to the Bishops of Hereford by the later ninth century, and it is possible that there may have been a house on the site from that date, although the earliest excavated evidence dates from the 11th century. Excavations undertaken within the western enclosure in 1951 revealed the foundations of the medieval manor house in the centre of the area. The excavations indicated that the manor house had a timber upper floor, and comprised an aisled ground-floor hall, a first floor solar and a chapel. Finds indicated that the main period of occupation of the site was from the 12th century through to the 17th century, when the building is known to have fallen into ruin, and stone from the house was being removed for repairs to the parish church undertaken in 1698. A second building, which is thought to have been a kitchen, lay to the north west by the side of the moat, and there are indications of further outbuildings, visible as earthworks, to the north. A mill, brewhouse, and dairy are recorded in contemporary documents to have stood within this western enclosure. The eastern, southern and south western areas of the site appear to have been open areas, probably containing gardens confirmed by investigations in the southern area during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Documentary sources also indicated that the eastern enclosure contained 'the stable for carts next the gate, the ox-house, the great stable, the pig stye, the sow house, the three barns' and also the fishpond.
Excluded from the scheduling are all modern fences, the two stable blocks and the concrete rafts on which they stand, and the septic tank in the front garden of 'Monks Meadow', although the ground beneath these features is included {Source Work 2873}.
1898 - Prestbury Moat was described by G A Cardew as " a large piece of land surrounded by a broad and deep ditch; to the east of it are the remains of another moat, not so large and complete, and a less deep ditch. He considered that the western, square, moat was Celtic or Saxon, used as a Saxon Bury, and that the eastern one was a medieval extension. he felt that a medieval house was built on the spot leaving only the foundations of the moated site.
Cardew suggested that Prestbury Moat could be one of a number of moats sharing a common purpose, which he saw as standing in close relation to one another, close to rivers or brooks in the Severn Vale and "ancient trackways", commanding lines of communication and lying " close up to and under the very foot of the hills, the border land or marches of the vale". Cardew also suggested that "every moated fort at the foot of the hills is a counter-point to Romano-British and British forts on the hills" and put forward an idea that these moats "played a part in the Roman story of our country, and were often found useful by the invading Saxon." {Source Work 2723}
1926 - Work in preparation for the construction of a housing estate started within the moated site. A curving roadway and a deep drainage system were laid across the inner enclosure (that containing the manor house) and although the planned development of houses did not go ahead, there was a lot of damage to the below-ground archaeology. {Source Work 1296.}
1937-9 - Excavations carried out at intervals during 1937-9 by O'Neil revealed foundations of buildings of 12th, 14th and 17th century date and pottery, tiles, glass and coins {Source Works 1371 and 1296.}
1947 - The site is visible on RAF aerial photographs taken in 1947. Park Lane was already built up by this date. (See the site file for AP cover).
1951 - The earlier excavations by O'Neil were interrupted by the war and were resumed in 1951. The findings of both excavations were published together. {Source Works 709 and 1296.}
The eastern of the two earthwork enclosures comprised the manor house's outer court and would have contained farm and other service buildings. The western enclosure contained the bishops' residence and was the focus of the excavations. The plan of the medieval residence was established during the excavations, although the foundations were found to have been badly damaged during the 1926 preparations for the housing estate. It was found to have been built in stone but may have incorporated timber framing on the upper level. The earliest pottery finds were of the late 11th and 12th centuries and the earliest phase of stone structural remains appeared to date from the late 12th or early 13th century. This house consisted of a rectangular block containing a near-square two-bay great hall, with vestibule, solar and a small cobbled courtyard at the southern end. A separate kitchen block to the west, which may have been contemporary or slightly later in date, was linked with the vestibule south of the great hall by a pentice. An extension to the north end of the hall was made at some point fairly soon after the initial stone construction. This was used later as a kitchen. A structure interpreted by O'Neil as the chapel was built against the southern part of the main residential block. The identification of this room as the chapel is called into question by its orientation, the long axis being 64 degrees south of east. It was apparently built soon after the hall (although the masonry remains of its earlier phase were poorly preserved and therefore difficult to interpret), but was enlarged and aggrandised with external buttresses in the fourteenth century. Another fourteenth century alteration was the addition of a porch/gatehouse to the south east of the great hall's vestibule and east of the inner courtyard. Some further changes were made in the sixteenth century, when the character of the residence and the way it was used began to change. Indications of further buildings (possibly outbuildings) were noted to the north of the excavated complex. {Source Work 1296.}
The finds from both excavations are housed at Cheltenham Museum.
1988 - An archaeological evaluation was undertaken by Gloucestershire County Council Archaeology Service during late June and early July 1988 (SMC HSD9/2/1425). A portion of the western enclosure was sampled during an archaeological assessment undertaken in 1988-9 in advance of the construction of an extension to a private house, "Monks Meadow". 12th and 13th century pottery was retrieved. The archive for the site has been deposited at Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum under accession number 1997.191 {Source Work 634.}
1989 - An archaeological watching brief was undertaken by Gloucestershire County Council Archaeology Service on 22-24/04/1989 in the paddock to the west and south of Monk's Meadow to observe the excavation of a soakaway drain (SMC HSD9/2/1425 Pt2). The upper fills of the moat ditch were recorded {Source Work 634}.
1992 - No significant archaeological deposits were observed there, nor when an assessment within the eastern enclosure was undertaken in 1992 in advance of an extension to "Green Willows" The archive for this site has been deposited at Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum under accession number 1997.193 {Source Work 635.}
1993 - An archaeological excavation undertaken in advance of construction of an extension to "Little Monk", Park Lane, Prestbury (SO 96655 24590) was undertaken by Gloucestershire County Council's Archaeology Section in September 1993. The area of interest lies within the south eastern portion of the western enclosure of Prestbury Moat, a Scheduled Ancient Monument and the work was undertaken as a condition of Scheduled Monument Consent. Archaeological excavation of trenches for the foundations of the extension and associated drainage revealed a surface of natural subsoil at a depth of c.0.4m below ground level. Above lay a soil containing sherds of medieval pottery, but the date of formation and significance of this deposit remains uncertain. Covering this soil was a modern garden topsoil, cut into which were foundations and drainage trenches associated with the existing house. The excavation revealed no evidence for the presence of significant archaeological deposits. The archive for this site was deposited at Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum under accession number 1997.194 {Source Work 2663.}
Archives from the site were deposited at Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum under accession numbers CAGM 1997.194, CAGM 1997.193 and CAGM 1997.191 on 19/11/1997.
1999 - (460/8) - An archaeological watching brief was undertaken by Gloucestershire County Council Archaeology Service on 17/05/1999 in connection with the construction of a conservatory to the rear of Craignethan. One trench was hand excavated. No finds or features dumped earlier than ten years ago were recorded. The site archive has been deposited with Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum under accession number 2003/20. {Source Work 5178.}
Documentary history:-
The placename Prestbury may derive from the priests of a minster church at Cheltenham, whose lands were leased to the bishop of Hereford in the 8th century. {Source Work 3074.}. The placename would also suggest that a settlement was in existence at this time, perhaps located at Shaw Green just to the south east of the moated site. (Source Work 767.} In 803, the right to a yearly food-rent from the (otherwise unknown) monasteries at Beckford and Cheltenham was claimed by Deneberht, Bishop of Worcester from Wulfheard, Bishop of Hereford. These monasteries and their land had been given to the church of Hereford "in old times," despite the fact that they were within Worcester diocese {Source Work 7716.}. The estate at Prestbury was in the hands of the bishops of Hereford in 1066 and 1086, according to the Domesday survey {Source Work 316.}.
In 1166-67, Prestbury was one of the castles listed in the pipe rolls. By 1209, "The bishop had here a Park wherein stood a handsome Stone House moated about." A list of dilapidations from 1344 mentions the stable, ox-house, three barns, "an old chamber within the inner gateway", dairy, granary, chamber of the squires and clerks, hall, kitchen, larder, brewhouse, middle-chamber, chapel, cellar, lord's chamber and mill. {Source Work 7713.}
The residence seems to have been popular with all the medieval bishops and continued in use into the episcopacy of Bishop Bothe (1516-35). In 1531 it was let to Humphrey Elton with the proviso that the bishop could stay there when necessary except in the part south of the gatehouse {Source Work 7713.}. In 1560, during a vacancy of the see, the manor was taken by Queen Elizabeth and retained by the Crown {Source Work 767.} It was then granted on a long lease to Sir Thomas Chamberlayne in 1564. In 1577-78 Bishop Butterfield described the residence as "late the possession" of the bishopric. In 1643 it was occupied by a troop of Commonwealth soldiers, but by 1698 money "was Paide to Mr Bagholt for Halling four Loade of stone from the Manor". The stone was used to repair the north doorway of the church and to build a buttress for the tower. {Source Work 7713.}
The site is not thought to be plough-damaged.
See also Area Management screen.
2000 - An archaeological watching brief was undertaken by Cotswold Archaeological Trust on 17th October 2000 during groundworks for an extension at Gable Cottage, Park Lane, Prestbury. Natural lias clay was recorded within the foundation trench at a depth of 0.65m below ground level. It was cut by an undated wall footing of roughly dressed limestone blocks. The wall footing was sealed by post-medieval deposits, and a medieval date for the wall connot be discounted. The wall was left in situ. The archive will be stored at the Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum. {Source Work 7180.}
2005 - Gloucestershire NMP (Cotswold & Forest of Dean)
(SO 96702460) Moats (GT) The site of the medieval manor house of the Bishops of Hereford at Prestbury consists of two adjoining rectangular moats surrounded by a continuous earthen bank. The eastern moat contained an outer courtyard and farmyard, whilst the western moat contained the house. Much damage ws caused in 1926 by preparations for a housing estate, which was not fully developed; and the site was excavated by Mrs H E O'Neil in 1937 and 1951. The Domesday survey refers to Prestbury being in possession of the Bishops of Hereford in pre-Conquest times, and the earliest pottery found is of the late 11th century. The wall foundations date from late 12th or 13th century, and the buildings were strongly built of stone, although the upper storey may have been timber framed. Alterations occured in the 16th century but by the end of the 17th century the house was falling into ruin. Finds are housed at Cheltenham Museum.
A moated site containing the remains of the manor house of the Bishops of Hereford, situated immediately east of Cheltenham Racecourse. The site comprises two adjoining rectangular, moated enclosures orientated north west to south east. The southern part of both enclosures and the east side of the eastern area lie under and immediately around houses built between about 1900 and the 1960s. The moat and its internal and external banks are most visible in the north west corner of the western enclosure, where the moat is about 8 metres wide and both banks stand to about 1.5 metres high from the bottom of the usually water filled moat. The moat running south from this corner was filled in in 1983. The south western corner has been slightly obscured by later landscaping, but a denuded bank can be seen in the front garden of the house called 'Monks Meadow'. The moat and banks which divided the two enclosures are still visible, the moat surviving to about 2 metres wide and the banks standing to about 1.5 metres in height from the bottom of the moat. The eastern enclosure is slightly smaller than that to the west, and the moat and banks survive only on the northern side. At this point the moat is about 2 metres wide with the gently sloping bank to the north.
Within this eastern enclosure, the outline of the manorial fishpond is still visible as a round depression, about 20 metres in diameter. The eastern side of the pond has been truncated by a private garden. Excavations undertaken within the western enclosure in 1951 revealed the foundations of the medieval manor house in the centre of the area. The excavations indicated that the manor house had a timber upper floor, and comprised an aisled ground-floor hall, a first floor solar and a chapel. A second building, which is thought to have been a kitchen, lay to the north west by the side of the moat, and there are indications of further outbuildings, visible as earthworks, to the north. Scheduled. This site and traces of the 1930s excavtions are visible on aerial photographs. {Source Work 4249.}
2007 - A modern archaeological watching brief was undertaken by 110 Archaeology during June 2007 in connection with the construction of a new garage and house extension. No finds or features of archaeological significance were noted. The house extension was noted to be on slightly higher ground than the nearby moated site. The garage may have been sited within the moated ditch but heavy terracing associated with the construction of the house had removed any of the archaeological deposits. The site archive will be deposited with Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum. {Source Work 9050.}
2007 - In June 2007 a watching brief was undertaken at Harbury, Spring Lane, Prestbury during the hand excavation of trenches for the foundations of an extension to the existing house and detached garage. There was no evidence of the expected south eastern corner of the moated ditch of Prestbury Moat or any fills that would be associated with it. {Source Work 9041.}
2009 - An archaeological evaluation undertaken by Gloucestershire County Council Archaeology Service immediately to the east of the Scheduled Monument area on 12 January 2009 at Moat Corner house, Spring Lane, Prestbury, recorded a large cut feature in the two separated trenches. The full dimensions of this feature were not established given the limited archaeological work undertaken, however enough was seen to suggest the presence of a large water-filled - probably Medieval fishpond - feature. {Source Work 9650.}
2010 - A watching brief maintained by Gloucestershire County Council Archaeology Service on 11 and 12 October 2010 during the excavation of foundation trenches at Moat Corner house, Spring Lane, Prestbury, following previous archaeological observations (described) above further noted the continuation of the cut and originally water-filled feature within the area monitored. The full extent of the feature was not again fully determined, nor was it fully excavated, though the original interpretation is still held to. {Source Work 10288.}

Monuments
MANOR HOUSE(MEDIEVAL)
Associated Finds
SHERD(MEDIEVALtoPOST MEDIEVAL)
COIN(MEDIEVALtoPOST MEDIEVAL)
SHERD(MEDIEVAL)
FLAKE(UNCERTAIN)
SHERD(POST MEDIEVAL)
ANIMAL REMAINS(POST MEDIEVAL)
SHERD(POST MEDIEVAL)
UNIDENTIFIED OBJECT(POST MEDIEVAL)
BRICK(POST MEDIEVAL)
BUCKLE(POST MEDIEVAL)
MOAT(MEDIEVAL)
BANK (EARTHWORK)(MEDIEVAL)
FISHPOND(MEDIEVAL)
SETTLEMENT(EARLY MEDIEVAL)
AISLED HALL HOUSE(MEDIEVAL)
MANORIAL CHAPEL(MEDIEVAL)
KITCHEN(MEDIEVAL)
MILL(MEDIEVAL)
BREWHOUSE(MEDIEVAL)
DAIRY(MEDIEVAL)
PIGSTY(MEDIEVAL)
STABLE(MEDIEVAL)
OXHOUSE(MEDIEVAL)
CART SHED(MEDIEVAL)
BARN(MEDIEVAL)
GARDEN(MEDIEVAL)
BISHOPS PALACE(MEDIEVAL)
ENCLOSURE(MEDIEVAL)
OUTBUILDING(MEDIEVAL)
TIMBER FRAMED HOUSE(MEDIEVAL)

Protection Status
SCHEDULED MONUMENT(1018448)

Sources and further reading
53;Burrow EJ;1919;The Ancient Entrenchments & Camps of Gloucestershire;
6540;Unknown;1751-1825;Northfield Hill, Prestbury. Abstract of title, reciting 1751-1825, map;
6539;Unknown;1850;Papers including...plan of 'land claimed by Mr Capel and footway illegally stopped' (Upper Mill in Prestbury);
6538;Unknown;1900;Estates of Baghott de la Bere annotated onto OS 25" map;
252;Witts GB;1883;Archaeological Handbook of the County of Gloucestershire;Vol:0;
362;Ordnance Survey;1946-1975;OS 1st series National Survey: 6 inch map;Vol:0;
302;Leech R;1981;Historic Towns in Gloucestershire;Vol:0;
305;Saville A;1980;Archaeological Sites in the Avon and Gloucestershire Cotswolds;Vol:0;
425;Unknown;1837-1859;Tithe Maps and Apportionments for Gloucestershire;Vol:0;
470;Saville A;1976;Vol:0;
488;Armstrong L;1987;Vol:0;
484;Historic Environment Record;various;Vol:0;
599;Tewkesbury Archaeological Committee;1972-4;Vol:0;
634;Hoyle JP;1989;Vol:0;
635;Parry C;1992;Vol:0;
709;RCHME;1984-1985;Vol:0;
862;Ordnance Survey;unknown;Vol:0;
1296;O'Neil HE;1956;TRANSACTIONS OF THE BRISTOL AND GLOUCESTERSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY;Vol:75;Page(s):5-34;
1371;Donovan HE;1937;TRANSACTIONS OF THE BRISTOL AND GLOUCESTERSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY;Vol:59;Page(s):333-334;
1701;Witts GB;1879-1880;TRANSACTIONS OF THE BRISTOL AND GLOUCESTERSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY;Vol:4;Page(s):199-213;
1889;Rawes B;1978;GLEVENSIS;Vol:12;Page(s):35-37;
1999;Aston M & Viner L;1981;GLEVENSIS;Vol:15;Page(s):22-29;
2663;Parry C;1993;Vol:0;
2873;English Heritage;various;Vol:0;
2915;Richardson RE;1985;Vol:0;
3027;Donovan HE;1937;PROCEEDINGS OF THE COTTESWOLD NATURALIST'S FIELD CLUB;Vol:26;Page(s):207;
3618;Medieval Village Research Group;1952-1986;Vol:0;
3636;Jackson MJ;1980;Vol:1;
5134;Ordnance Survey;1878-1882;OS 1st County Series (1:2500 / 25");Vol:0;
5178;Hicks D;1999;Vol:0;
5232;Williams SMW;1989;Vol:0;
5233;Armstrong L;1992;Vol:0;
5210;Armstrong L;1996;Vol:0;
7713;Tonkin J W;1974;TRANSACTIONS OF THE WOOLHOPE NATURALISTS FIELD CLUB;Vol:42;Page(s):53-64;
316;Morris J (Ed);1982;Domesday Book Gloucestershire;Vol:15;
767;Elrington CR (Ed);1968;The Victoria History of the County of Gloucester;Vol:8;
7716;Sims-Williams P;1990;Religion and Literature in Western England 600-800;
3074;Smith AH (Ed);1964;English Place-Name Society;Vol:0;
7769;Emery A;2000;Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales 1300-1500;Vol:2;
9050;Cook S;2007;
10288;Witchell N;2010;
7180;Havard T;2002;
9041;Cook S;2007;
9650;Williams B;2009;
4249;Historic England;Various;Vol:0;
12299;Wilson R;Unknown;
15250;Various;2003-4;
14358;Stoertz C;2012;
3329;RAF (1951);1951;Vol:0;
15987;Ordnance Survey (1954);1954;Ordnance Survey 1:10,560;
15387;Various;Various;Historic England Archive Files;
3124;RCHME;1972;Vol:0;

Related records
HISTORIC ENGLAND ARCHIVE;MD000193
CHELTENHAM ART GALLERY AND MUSEUM;1997.193
CHELTENHAM ART GALLERY AND MUSEUM;1997.194
CHELTENHAM ART GALLERY AND MUSEUM;1997.191
CHELTENHAM ART GALLERY AND MUSEUM;2003/20
SHINE;GC417
HER   33378     Probable fishpond partially excavated 12 January 2009 to the east of Moat Corner house, Prestbury.
FOREST OF DEAN & NORTH COTSWOLDS NMP PROJECT;1362224
SMC;HSD9/2/1425
HISTORIC ENGLAND AMIE RECORD;117678
NMR INDEX NUMBER;SO 92 SE 5
SM COUNTY LEGACY;GC 161
SM NATIONAL LEGACY;31923
HER   7362     Earthwork

Source
Gloucestershire County Council: Historic Environment Record Archive