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Helmdon Historical Articles

Helmdon Manor House

(Manor Farm now stands on the site)




In the civil parish of Helmdon.
In the historic county of Northamptonshire and the Soke of Peterborough.
Modern Authority of Northamptonshire.
1974 county of Northamptonshire.
Medieval County of Northamptonshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SP58984308
Latitude 52.08423° Longitude -1.14185°

Helmdon Manor House has been described as a probable Fortified Manor HouseThere are earthwork remains


Helmdon Manor House, 7 1/2 miles south-west of Towcester, has large enclosures bounded by slight entrenchments. (Downman Ancient Earthworks 1906).

Helmdon. At Domesday the Earl of Marton had four hides of land ... In the reign of Henry V there are three distinct manors called Overbury, Netherbury and Minuicourt. These manors passed through several intermediate possessors, and the manor of Overbury (the principal one) is now the property of the Provost and Fellows of Worcester College Oxford. Worcester College manor house, which has just been thoroughly restored, is now a farmhouse standing west of the church where there are large enclosures bounded by slight entrenchments. The other manor houses cannot be distinguished (Whelan; Downman).
There are no extant remains of the original Manor House which, according to local traditional information, was demolished 'early in this century'(ed note: (C20). Extant earthworks representing the manorial complex comprise a well defended homestead/manorial moat situated between two large banked and ditched enclosures, the whole situated on a slight north facing slope. The moat island is well raised having a maximum height of 1.4m above the now dry ditch which itself has a maximum depth of 0.5m; the platform is flat with no surface evidence of the former structure. The enclosures, apparently ditched fields, are also devoid of evidence of early occupation, the ditching itself being a drainage requirement. All the works are now under permanent pasture. The farm-house is a modern structure (F1 FDC 14-JUN-77).
Site of Manor House and settlement remains (SP 589431). The manorial earthworks together with some fragments of former house sites, now mostly destroyed by modern redevelopment suggest a rectangular plan indicating the deliberate creation of this part of the village (RCHM plan).
A survey carried out in 1973 identified the shrunken village earthworks, especially around Manor Farm, where there are manorial ramparts and fishponds as well as the manor itself (Med. Arch. 1974). (PastScape)

Downman includes this site in the section entitled 'enclosures ramparted and fossed' rather than Homestead moats. This includes houses normally regarded as fortified manor houses although other authors and the archaeological databases seem to consider this as a none-fortified manorial site.

From: Gatehouse, a comprehensive gazetteer and bibliography of the medieval castles, fortifications and palaces of England, Wales, the islands.

Sources of information, references and further reading

  • Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s) 339387.
  • Further information may be available from the holder of the county Historic Environment Record.
  • Books
    • RCHME, 1982, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Northampton Vol. 4: South-west Northamptonshire (HMSO) p. 81-2 fig. 74, 75 online transcription
      Downman, E.A., 1906, 'Ancient Earthworks' in Serjeantson, R.M., Ryland, W. and Adkins, D. (eds), VCH Northamptonshire Vol. 2 p. 416
      online copy
      Whelan, F., 1874, History, Topography and Directory of Northamptonshire (F. Whelan and Co) p. 481
  • Periodical Articles
    • 1974, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 18 p. 216 online copy

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