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Pirton Grange

In the civil parish of Pirton.
In the historic county of Hertfordshire.
Modern Authority of Hertfordshire.
1974 county of Hertfordshire.
Medieval County of Hertfordshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: TL12253292
Latitude 51.98354° Longitude -0.36676°

Pirton Grange has been described as a Fortified Manor House although is doubtful that it was such.

There are major building remains.

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


Large house. C15 with S crosswing, C16 S kitchen block, C16 or early C17 N crosswing with internal chimney, early C17 short W extension to S kitchen block with 5-sided bay window to room over. Circa 1690 hall roof raised about one metre, 3 tall sash windows inserted, centre of front remodelled with modillioned cornice and doorhood, imposing stair built in W end of S wing and bolection panelling installed. A vaulted brick cellar added to W of old S kitchen inscribed 'JH 1724'. Extensive renovations when house let c.1879 and given present appearance. Timber frame with plastered panels and painted boards fixed on top of many timbers. Frame exposed with red brick infill at S end. Steep old red tile roofs with decorative cresting to ridges. Tall square chimneys with corbelled tops. A large 2-storeys and attics moated house facing E approached by a gatehouse over moat (q.v.), of courtyard of service buildings to W only bakehouse and adjoining dairy remain. E front has taller 3-windows wide hall range flanked by projecting gabled crosswings. Entrance in angle with N wing in line with large internal chimney. Hipped dormer on roofslope, 3 tall flush-box sash windows to 1st floor with 12/12 small panes and thick ovolo glazing bays. 2 2-lights leaded casement windows to ground floor and elaborate hollow arched plaster hood to entrance with a fan of swords and carved scrolled brackets. Modillioned eaves cornice to centre. One casement window to each floor of N wing, and 2 to each floor of S crosswing. This has a kitchen block of equal height extending to S with a large 2-storeys ovolo-moulded 5-sided bay on the E side under a gabled tiled roof. Large chimney to this kitchen and to N side of N wing. S crosswing has several original couples and mortice in E gable for collar-purlin. Resited smoke-blackened rafters in hall roof. Clasped-purlin roof to N crosswing. Axial floor beams indicate that neither crosswing was jettied. Recent restoration has uncovered the original leaded glazing in the side lights of the 5-sided bay window. Of c.1690 work bolection moulded panelling to hall, chamber over, and chamber over S part. Fine staircase with closed string barley-sugar twisted balusters, square newels, moulded handrail, and striking balustrade to landing. Stair lit by a C17 cross-window. 2-panels bolection moulded doors and plaster cornices. Bold bolection moulded architraves to doors. Painted black letter inscription in chimneypiece of large upper room, c.1590-1610, with later bolection moulded panelling and fireplace. Other fireplaces early C19. (Listed Building Report)

Gatehouse. C16 or early C17. Timber frame on recessed battered brick bridge structure over former moat. Roughcast at front with impressed decoration, exposed timbers on sides, similar at rear with pattern of chevron infill between studs. Steep old red tile roof. A small square 2-storeys gatehouse facing E. Wide E entrance with narrow architrave and C18 panelled double gates pierced by a wicket gate. Small 2-lights casement window over. Carriageway off-centre to S with enclosed stair to upper floor on N side. An unusual survival. Supports for former drawbridge found in excavation. (Listed Building Report)

Pirton Grange moated site exhibits a diversity of features, including the hall itself, the bridge and gatehouse, and remains associated with water control. The significance of the site is increased by its association with a cluster of four such moated sites at Apsley End.
The monument includes the remains of a medieval moated enclosure and an associated settling pond. The moated enclosure is rectangular in shape measuring c.75m east-west by 55m north-south, inclusive of the c.8m-14m wide surrounding water-filled moat. The inner edge of the moat is revetted by wooden timbers. The moat is fed by an inflow channel or leat at the south-west corner controlled by a sluice. The moat drains into a settling pond to the north-east via an overflow channel (also included in the scheduling). The main entrance to the moated island is on the east side and comprises a bridge and gatehouse located on the site of an earlier bridge structure observed in the last century. The upstanding remains of the bridge and gatehouse (listed grade II star) and Pirton Grange and its associated outhouses (listed grade II star and grade II, respectively) are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath the buildings is included. A small modern footbridge crossing the south arm of the moat is similarly excluded. The mound and ponds immediately to the south of the moat are believed to date to the 19th century and are not included in the scheduling. (Scheduling Report)

Timber and plaster gatehouse astride east side of a rectangular moat, of two storeys with traces of a portcullis. (Renn 1971)

A fair sized moat but unusual only in the survival of the timber gatehouse. A great number of the several thousand moated sites in England may well have had similar gatehouses which are quite vulnerable (Pirton was on the Heritage at Risk Register since 2001 although, thankfully help from English Heritage has secured the gatehouse and it was removed from the Register in 2012.). Pirton Grange was not a manor house but does show that 'Homestead moats' can be quite sizable and that defence was an issue, both for practical and status reasons, to many people in medieval England.
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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 26/07/2017 09:21:01

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