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Whitley Thorpe grange

In the civil parish of Whitley.
In the historic county of Yorkshire.
Modern Authority of North Yorkshire.
1974 county of North Yorkshire.
Medieval County of Yorkshire West Riding.

OS Map Grid Reference: SE55502051
Latitude 53.67806° Longitude -1.16079°

Whitley Thorpe grange has been described as a probable Fortified Manor House.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Around 6000 moated sites are known in England. They consist of wide ditches, often or seasonally water filled, partly or completely enclosing one or more islands of dry ground on which stood domestic or religious buildings. The majority of moated sites served as prestigious aristocratic and seigniorial residences with the provision of a moat intended as a status symbol rather than a practical military defence. The peak period of moat building was between about 1250 and 1350 and by far the greatest concentration lies in the central and eastern parts of England. However moated sites were built throughout the medieval period, and are widely scattered throughout England, exhibiting a wide variety of forms, sizes and uses. They form a significant class of medieval monument and are important for the understanding of the distribution of wealth and status in the countryside. Many examples provide conditions favourable to the survival of organic remains. The tradition of constructing and using fishponds started in the early medieval period and peaked in the 12th century. They typically belonged to the wealthier sectors of society and were prized for providing a year round supply of fresh protein. Smaller ponds were constructed to breed and cultivate fish, with larger ponds used to store adult fish. Moats also often fulfilled this latter function. Fishponds are important for providing evidence of site economy. Whitley Thorpe moated grange is a well preserved example. Its importance is further heightened by its rarity in being associated with that of the Knights Templars.
The monument includes the earthworks of a small moated site with a set of associated fishponds, sited on the south side of a slight gravel ridge which rises a few metres above the surrounding land. The site has been identified as a grange, or outlying farm, of Whitley Manor which was held by the Knights Templar from before 1248. The Templars were one of the international military monastic orders established to protect pilgrims travelling to Jerusalem. In 1308 the whole order was imprisoned under heresy, idolatry and other charges brought by Pope Clement V and Philip IV of France. Although evidence against the knights proved too flimsy to secure conviction the order was suppressed by papal decree in 1312. In 1308 the preceptor (leader of the house) at Whitley was Robert de Langton and the manor was valued at over one hundred and thirty pounds. Unlike a number of Templar manors, Whitley did not pass to the rival order of Knights Hospitallers, and the site is believed to have passed into disuse. The monument includes a small, roughly square moated island, approximately 30m across, surrounded by a dried up and heavily silted, but still well defined, moat ditch. Along the eastern edge of the island there is evidence of a wall line of dressed stone, and a number of displaced limestone blocks survive to the west of the moat. Surrounding the outside of the moat ditch there is a low broad bank which is considered to have resulted from material dredged from the moat during maintenance. On the eastern side this lies under the hedge line forming the field boundary. Access to the island appears to have been over a causeway that crosses the mid-point of the northern moat arm. To the east of the line of this causeway, north of the moat, there lies the now dry earthwork depression of a small fishpond, with two further dried up ponds lying to the west of the moat. Abutting the bank on the south side of the moat there are the pronounced remains of ridge and furrow running NNE to SSW. (Scheduling Report)

Lee (2015) argues the Templar preceptory was at Weedley in the East Riding. If so who was living in this moat?
One of many moats in the flood plains of the Rivers Aire and Don north of Doncaster which may have more to do with flood protection, although the area, Barnsdale Forest, was notorious for outlaws.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:06

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