The moat of Ightham Mote
(mote means meeting place).
Ightham, dating from 1320, has been ambitiously
restored – dismantling much of the building
and recording its construction methods
before rebuilding it.
The Romans brought with them the villa system for organising rural life – the ‘English’ lived beyond the walls ... but once the Romans had left “Limes Britannicus” as they knew Britain, the English started adopting their way of life.
The lord of the manor owned a large tract of land, known as the demesne, around his house, and local people were obliged to work on this land for a certain number of days a year.
Beyond the demesne was arable land, divided into several (often three) large fields and cultivated on a strip system. Beyond these were the common land – the forest and heath used by the commoners for grazing their animals and gathering wood.
The great hall at Penshurst Place, Kent,
mid 14th.c. The hall was of central importance
to every manor, being the place where the lord,
surrounded by dependants,
expressed his position of dominance.
As rulers started organising their lives – the Crown proclaiming ownership of land – the heyday of the manorial system was from 1,000 AD to 1,300 AD before it largely disappeared two hundred years later ...
... as the Crown exchanged land for armies of men or taxes - more power was given to the Church and Knights of the realm - when the feudal society finally transitioned into a cash for labour system.
Remnants of stone manor houses dating back to the 1100s have been found; these would consist of one large room where lord, family, servants and even livestock lived side by side.
Stokesay Castle, viewed from the church yard,
showing the north tower, with its Tudor residential
additions, in the foreground.
Over time these rooms were divided and larger additions added to the Manor giving new wings, minstrel galleries, a chapel, kitchens, pantry, buttery, wardrobe etc, while outside there would be servant’s quarters, stables, barns as required.
Some manors were fortified, but most became ever larger houses on estates, or within moated walls, as their domains and grounds were already established. The manor house is usually still the largest house in the village or town and often provides a leadership role in the neighbourhood.
This is Manor - that is what M is for ..
Part of the ABC - April 2011 - A - Z Challenge - Aspects of the British Countryside
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories