Harpham Manor

Has been described as a Possible Fortified Manor House

There are earthwork remains

NameHarpham Manor
Alternative Names
Historic CountryYorkshire
Modern AuthorityEast Riding of Yorkshire
1974 AuthorityHumberside
Civil ParishHarpham

the buried and earthwork remains of the medieval manor house of the St Quintin family together with an area of medieval settlement remains. The monument lies at the heart of Harpham village adjacent and to the west of St John's Church. Reputed to be the birthplace of St John of Beverley in 640 AD, Harpham was recorded as Arpen in the Domesday Book. Before the Norman Conquest the village was in the hands of three landowners, two holding it as part of larger manors. The principal landholding was the manor of Burton Agnes which was held by Earl Morcar but which then passed to William the Conqueror after Morcar rebelled in 1071. In 1199 Harpham was separated from Burton Agnes and passed from the Stutvilles to the St Quintin family via marriage. Harpham then became the principal seat of a branch of the St Quintin family until they moved to Scampston Hall some time in the 17th century, perhaps around the time of the creation of the St Quintin baronetcy in 1642. The village of Harpham appears to have been relatively prosperous and was valued at 60 shillings for the 1334 lay subsidy compared to 67 shillings for Burton Agnes and the average of 46 shillings for the 60 settlements of the wapentake (local administrative area). In 1377 there were 153 poll tax payers recorded. Documentary references concerning the manor house at Harpham include a licence to crenellate the belfry of its chapel in 1374, but the house was not assessed for the hearth tax of the 1670s so it is believed that it was demolished by this time. Other references to the settlement includes some early enclosure of Harpham's medieval field system in 1633-4, 1714 and 1724. The remaining land was enclosed in 1776, which is when the existing pattern of farm houses within the village is believed to have been created. The monument lies at the heart of the village and includes a series of levelled areas marking the position of early buildings set within strips of land defined by banks

Behind these, adjacent to the parish church, is a larger enclosure which is partly defined by a moat and partly by a broad bank. This enclosure contained the medieval hall of the St Quintins' together with a number of additional manorial buildings and features. The field to the north of the church is divided by banks and breaks of slope into four north-south orientated strips ranging between 20m and 30m wide, each with at least one levelled building platform at their northern end. These are crofts and tofts, with the levelled areas, the tofts, representing the locations of houses and associated outbuildings set within the gardens or yards (known as crofts). Each of the middle pair of crofts have their building platforms separated from the road by a sunken area which are interpreted as fold yards for keeping stock in at night. The western of this pair has its strip further subdivided with two parallel banks extending south from its building platform. The south end of the easternmost of the four crofts has a larger sunken area about 40m by 30m with a small building platform immediately to the east. At the west end of the field to the west, north of Hall Garth Farm, there is a series of four to five smaller crofts, both narrower and shorter than those north of the church. These are clearly defined by banks standing up to 0.4m high and also front onto the main street to the north. To the east there is a large depression over 25m across and up to 1.5m deep which is interpreted as the silted remains of a village pond. Between this and an embanked hedge which runs south from opposite the St Quintin's Arms there is a broadening trackway that runs from the main street southwards to the manorial enclosure. Defining the west side of this trackway there is a broad flat-topped bank up to 6m wide and 0.5m high which turns a right angle to run towards and disappear at Hall Garth Farm. The manorial enclosure is partly defined on the north side by this bank and to the west and south by a moat ditch up to 20m across and 1m deep which is flanked on either side by broad banks. The eastern side of the enclosure is obscured by the later Manor Farm and the north eastern corner is occupied by the St John's Church. There is evidence that the enclosure was enlarged at some point in history. The southern moat ditch can be divided into two parts: the western section is broad and regular in profile with flanking banks. At its east end it is joined at right angles by a 50m long moat ditch of a similar form running northwards. From this junction, a more irregular moat ditch continues eastwards on a slightly different line implying that it is a later addition. At the north end of the 50m long moat ditch, following a slightly different line, there is a bank with an external ditch which runs a further 40m north before turning west to mark the south western quarter of the manorial enclosure. This includes a north-south orientated, 40m by 15m depression 1.5m deep which is interpreted as a fishpond and is connected to the moat to the south by a shallow channel. To the east of this, adjacent to the north end of the 50m long moat, there is a 20m by 10m raised building platform with an irregular depression immediately to its north. There are at least four further building platforms, some with stone footings appearing through the grass, in the north western quarter of the manorial enclosure. Around them there are broad gentle depressions and hollows that extend from the trackway that links the enclosure with the village's main street. These building platforms are considered to be the locations of farm buildings attached to the manor house and the depressions are the result of the passage of livestock over the centuries when the site formed the centre of the St Quintins' farming operations. Just to the east of this area, to the north of the 50m long moat, the general ground level is higher. This is considered to be the location of the manorial hall and the core service buildings. This area includes the Drummer's Well into which one of the St Quintins is reputed to have pushed a drummer boy. To the north of this there is a broad level area approximately 50m east-west and 20m wide. At the east end of this, extending northwards and partly overlain by a tennis court there is a set of depressions which are interpreted as cellars. Immediately to the east of this, facing the west end of the church, there is a broad ramp running downhill towards the church which is interrupted by the post-medieval westward extension to the churchyard. To the south of the churchyard, north of the eastern extension of the southern moat, there is a series of broad terraced areas which are interpreted as gardens attached to the manor house. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

The licence to crenellate granted in 1374 reads "Licence for Joan, late the wife of William de Sancto Quintmo, to crenellate a belfry which she purposes to make in the churchyard of the chapel of Harpham." (Johanna quae fuit uxor Willielmi de Sancto Quintino ... quoddam campanile quod ipsa in Cimiterio Capellae de Harpham facere proponit ... Harpham.) The mention of churchyard (Cimiterio) suggest the proposed belfry was not part of a private chapel of the manor house but part of Harpham parish church.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTA092615
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Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved

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Latitude 54° 2' 16.11" Longitude 0° 20' 2.98"

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  • Allison, K.J. (ed), 1974, VCH Yorkshire: East Riding Vol. 2 p. 224
  • Le Patourel, H.E. Jean, 1973, The Moated Sites of Yorkshire (The Society for Medieval Archaeology Monograph Series 5) p. 113
  • Sheahan, J.J., and Whellan, T., 1855, History and topography of the city of York, the Ainsty Wapentake and the East Riding of Yorkshire Vol. 2 p. 477 online copy