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Maidstone Mote House

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Maydenstan; Shoford Maideston

In the civil parish of Maidstone.
In the historic county of Kent.
Modern Authority of Kent.
1974 county of Kent.
Medieval County of Kent.

OS Map Grid Reference: TQ78135497
Latitude 51.26605° Longitude 0.55193°

Maidstone Mote House has been described as a probable Fortified Manor House.

There are no visible remains.

This is a Grade 2* listed building protected by law*.

Description

The medieval moat was not identified. The present house was almost certainly the first building to occupy the high ground overlooking the large artificial lake. Presumably a moated site would lie on the lower slopes near the river but the banks of the River Len have become overgrown and the numerous small ponds are slowly silting up. The large lake created by damming the Len is used for recreational purposes. (PastScape)

THE MOTE was an antient seat in this parish, situated about a mile eastward from the town of Maidstone, and encircled with a pleasant park. It was formerly castellated, and in the reign of Henry III. was part of the possessions of the noted family of Leyborne. In the 51st year of which Roger de Leyborne obtained the grant of a market, to be held weekly at this place on a Tuesday, and a yearly fair for three days at the feast of St. Cross. After the Leybornes were extinct here, it was become the property of John de Shofford, from whom it acquired the name of the manor of Shofford, alias Le Mote. (Hasted)

William's involvement with the sheriff and the cathedral probably explains why his house was the target of popular vindictiveness. When it was all over he may, of course, have felt that a substantial stone-built, crenellated new house (perhaps with parapets to protect the roof) would reduce the risk of arson and afford him more security in the future. But such dwellings were frequently (in fact, normally) built without any licence to crenellate. Without doubt, the function of the licence to William was to reaffirm his status and his association with the great. It was an emphatic and demonstrative response to the menu peuple who had dared to resent and attack his standing. (Coulson 1982)

A Royal licence to crenellate was granted in 1382 June 18 (Click on the date for details of this licence.).

Comments

Mote House is a Country house built near the site of C14 castellated manor house which was demolished circa 1800. There are no remains at Mote Park other than the listed C19 house. 'Shoford', was granted a licence, to William Topclyve, in 1382, after it had been levelled by insurgents. Hasted clearly identifies Mote House as the same as Shoford manor but, despite giving a full tenurial history, does not identify William Topclyve as holding the manor or mention the licence to crenellate. However, it is possible Hasted is incorrect and that Shoford is not the same as Mote house. The identification of it as a 'small place' (minutam placeam)in the licence enrollment adds to this possibility as Mote House was a large manor.
Leland c1540 mentions a castle in good repair, but this most probably refers to the Archbishop's palace.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape   County HER       Listing   I. O. E.
Maps >
Streetmap   NLS maps   Where's the path   Old-Maps      
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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*The listed building may not be the actual medieval building, but a building on the site of, or incorporating fragments of, the described site.
This record last updated before 1 February 2016

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