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Warren Knoll Tilsworth

Warren Knoll December 2008
Warren Knoll December 2008

Tilsworth had a manor at least as early as 1086 when one is recorded in Domesday Book. It seems reasonable to assume that this was based at Warren Knoll, a medieval motte standing near the church in the grounds of the former Vicarage, now Orchard Lodge care home. A motte was simply a raised earth mound which would often have a building known as a keep on top of it; this was the residence of the lord and his family. The majority of these keeps were wooden. A motte was often associated with a bailey, an enclosed courtyard around the motte in which buildings, such as living accommodation for the serfs, or slaves, and stables would stand. Mottes and baileys were most often built in the century or so following the Norman Conquest of 1066 though earlier Anglo-Saxon examples are know.

Warren Knoll in 1901
Warren Knoll in 1901

The motte known as Warren Knoll measures 3.2m high and 33.0m east-west by 28.0m north-south. A small excavation by Manshead Archaeological Society in 1972 to try to discover whether the mound was a motte or a windmill tump. The conclusion was definitely in favour of the former. The excavation showed that the mound had been surrounded by a ditch, about 6.0m wide, with a flat bottom, though this is not evident today. Slight traces off an encircling mound can be seen in the fields to the east and north and this may be the remains of a bailey.

 Plan of 1852 showing the church, the Vicarage and Warren Knoll
Plan of 1852 showing the church, the Vicarage and Warren Knoll [X392/1/1d]

The seat of the manor moved at some time in or before the late Middle Ages to the site of the later Manor Farm (now called Tilsworth Manor). The gatehouse to the Manor is 15th century.