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The Historic Environment Record is the primary index about the physical remains of past human activity in the unitary authority of West Berkshire. Not all records are published on the Heritage Gateway. Please read the important guidance on the use of the West Berkshire HER data.

HER Number MWB5024
Record Type Monument
Name Shaw House - Chalk Terrace

Grid Reference SU 476 683
Map Sheet SU46NE
Parish Shaw-cum-Donnington, West Berkshire
Map:Show location on Streetmap


Earthwork bank around three sides of garden on the east side of Shaw House, probably originating as a Tudor feature though modified in the 17th century; possibly also used defensively during the Civil War

Associated Legal Designations or Protected Status

  • Conservation Area: Shaw House and St Mary's Church, Shaw

Other Statuses and Cross-References

  • Berkshire SMR No. (pre 2000): 03467.01.000
  • National Monuments Record No.: SU 46 NE 246
    SU 4752 6826

Monument Type(s):

  • BANK (EARTHWORK) (Elizabethan to 17th century - 1580 AD? to 1700 AD?)
  • GARDEN TERRACE? (Elizabethan to 17th century - 1580 AD? to 1700 AD?)
  • DITCH (17th century - 1644 AD? to 1644 AD?)
  • RAMPART? (17th century - 1644 AD? to 1644 AD?)

Full Description

A large flat topped earthwork bank or terrace, 1.5 - 2 m high surrounds three sides of the former 'Great Garden' on the east side of Shaw House, a Tudor great house. The terrace was often called 'The Rampart' and may have been used as a Civil War defence when the house was Charles I's Headquarters during the 2nd Battle of Newbury in 1644. A Parliamentary general called Edmund Ludlow recalled in his memoirs of the battle, "a strong stone house belonging to one Mr. Doleman (sic), having a rampart of earth about it, which was also possessed by the enemy" <1>. This appears to be the earliest written reference to the earthwork; however, the military may have fortified an existing raised walk around the gardens, a common feature of 16th century gardens <2> and Peake comments that earthworks were unusual in the Civil War <3>.

A series of massive yew trees occur at 5m - 6m intervals on the top inner edge of the bank. The bank has been damaged and modified in several places by the insertion of modern paths and crossing places on the north and east sides. These cuttings have exposed sections through the bank, showing that they are composed of chalk rubble.

Two trenches were excavated in April 1999 to evaluate the proposed sites for two temporary classrooms in the Stable Yard and north of the sports hall <4>. The trench in the Stable Yard located the southern side of a substantial east-west aligned ditch. It was 1.20m deep with a flattish base. It was located on an alignment immediately outside the edge of the existing terrace bank. No dating material was recovered but it may represent an infilled civil war defensive ditch associated with a westward continuation of the bank, though there was no evidence of surviving bank material in the trench. The second trench was located the foot of the eastern arm of the surviving bank, to try and find further evidence for a ditch. However, no features were found. The whole area had apparently been levelled and built up since the 19th century, possibly removing or masking earlier features <4>.

Research in 2003-4 at Shaw House has confirmed the interpretation of the bank as a garden feature <5><6><7><8>: the 'most impressive surviving feature of the formal garden is the large flat-topped chalk terrace that encloses the Great Garden' <5>. The sub-divisions and boundaries of the Great Garden are depicted on the 1729 map of Speen Manor <10>. These kind of terraces are characteristic of English gardens from the pre-Civil War period until the mid 1680s. It would have been used as a raised walk overlooking the garden and surrounding landscape, though probably was originally much wider on top <7>. It appears from a surviving stub of 16th century wall by the southern entrance to Shaw House that there would have been steps up to the terrace, and brickwork remains here in the bank suggest that possibly a garden building such as a gazebo or pavilion might have existed so that a view could be enjoyed both within and outside the formal gardens.

A cavity in the earthwork terrace was noted in about 2014 at c SU 47655 68276. Within the hole was loose rubble, and it was suggested that there might have been a passage way through the bank at this point.

Sources and further reading

<01>Firth, C H (ed). 1894. The memoirs of Edmund Ludlow, lieutenant-general of the horse in the army of the commonwealth of England, 1625-1672. Vol I. p102. [Monograph / SWB148976]
https://archive.org/details/memoirsofedmundl01ludl (Accessed 29/02/2016)
<02>Rhodes, J, et al. 1998-2000. Shaw House, Newbury - Conservation Plan. p18 -21; 49. [Unpublished document / SWB12702]
<03>Peake, H. 1931. The Archaeology of Berkshire. P101. [Monograph / SWB10018]
<04>Northamptonshire Archaeology. 1999. Shaw House, Donnington. Geophysical and evaluation trenching phases 1 and 2.. 2018 Digitisation Project. [Unpublished document / SWB12704]
<05>Latham, S. 2003. Shaw House, Newbury, Berkshire - The Gardens: Historical Analysis and Survey Report. p13-14, 44, 67. [Unpublished document / SWB14268]
<06>Latham, S. 2003. Shaw House, Newbury, Berkshire - The Gardens: Historical Analysis and Survey Report. Illustrations. Illusts 14-15. [Unpublished document / SWB14269]
<07>Heward, J and Latham, S. 2003. Shaw House, Newbury, Berkshire - Map Regression Exercise. [Unpublished document / SWB14271]
<08>Latham, S and Yarham, V. 2003. Shaw House, Newbury, Berkshire - Reassessment of Historical Sources. p62-3. [Unpublished document / SWB14266]
<09>Heward, J and Yarham, V. 2003. Shaw House, Newbury, Berkshire - Analysis and proposals for further work. [Unpublished document / SWB14272]
<10>Commissioned by the Duke of Chandos. 1729/30. Map of Speen Manor. Marked as part of ornamental garden. [Map / SWB12939]
<11>Money, W. 1905 & 1972. A Popular History of Newbury (also Walter Money's History of Newbury). p181-2. [Monograph / SWB11278]
<12>Historic England (previously English Heritage). 1987. Register of Parks and Gardens of special historic interest in England. Shaw House. [Unpublished document / SWB12616]

Related Monuments

MWB15775Newbury II Battlefield, 1644 (Landscape)
MWB15774Shaw House (Park) (Landscape)
MWB21239Remains of east forecourt wall, Shaw House (Building)

Associated Excavations and Fieldwork

EWB114Shaw House (Temporary classrooms) 1999 (Ref: SHS99)
EWB740An Archaeological Investigation of Shaw House & Gardens, Shaw-cum-Donnington, Berkshire 2003