Acton Court: The Evolution of an Early Tudor Courtier's House 1873592639, 9781873592632, 9781848021310

With contributions by Jerome Bertram, John Atherton Bowen, Paul Courtney, Elizabeth Crowfoot, Andrew David, Paul De'

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Acton Court: The Evolution of an Early Tudor Courtier's House
 1873592639, 9781873592632, 9781848021310

Table of contents :
List of illustrations viii
List of tables xii
Acknowledgements xiii
Summary xiv
Glossary and abbreviations xx
Preface xxi
1. Introduction 1
2. The history of Acton Court 13
3. The medieval manor house 43
4. The Tudor house 114
5. The interior of the Tudor house 157
6. The Tudor house: discussion 182
7. Period 5: The later history of the building 209
8. Building materials: finds and specialist reports 226
9. Life at Acton Court: finds and specialist reports 294
Bibliography 423
Index 434

Citation preview

Acton Court The evolution of an early Tudor courtier's house

Acton Court The evolution of an early Tudor courtier's house by Kirsty Rodwell and Robert Bell

with contributions by Jerome Bcnram, John Athe non Bowen, Ptoricaltopogmphy of lhe parish 103 3.45 Evidence for the garden and watercourses north and west ohhc house... 104 3.46 11te sundial.... ...... . .. . 105 3.47 Acton Lodge from the west 111 4.1 Pion; the bouse in Period 4.1 t 14 4.2 The soulh end oflhe east range (E2) 115 4.3 The east elt\'3tion oflhe ho~ (E1) aAcr rpyrighL AD rights rcurotd. Eng/Uh

Heriu.gtlt()()()t7771120/J4

Period 2: Structures, enclosures, quarries and features cut by moat and sealed by Period 3. I manor house. Date: Early I 3th century. Dating evidtnce: Fill of quarry; pottery, 9

ACTON COURT

:

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de ACTON

n. 1176

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WlU.lAM de: ACTON

$1< JOHN of AlLER

Tablt t The Acton.! or lroo Accon

ROGERdtACTON FiJdanacon d 1361 or Aun and

b. 1)0'1

Wannrow

JOHN de ACTON of F1ddinacon mnd

Wtn"Otrow

ODOdcACTON of Fiddington and

JOHN

~

...

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MARGARET

ROBERT POYNTZ ; 1359-1439

l ,-

SirTHOMAS FITZ· NICHOL d . l418

of Elbtooe d. 1487

HUMPHREY

omen

Sor ROBERT ; .\iARGAR.£1', dau 1450-1520 "''"TliOl'.'YWOODVIU..E I Earl RIVERS

1479

AUC£. c.tlu and hc'lfcU • JOliN JOHN COX of Bnstol d. 1467

i I

EDWARD

~

[ Sir NICHOLAS

Othcn

3rd~DERBY

S1r JOliN • A..'"NE CAESAR dor1680 d 1729

Sor ROBERT • (2) CICELY SMITH d . 1665

GRISSEL

=

r

I

Sir NICHOLAS ; (2) ,\-11\RGAREl~ dau d. 1585 EDWARD STANLEY

EUZABETH • Sir JOUN SYDENHAM ~ 1560-1633

ANN I! VERNilY (I)

1527

1

JANil • Sir JOliN SBYMOUR

JAMES, lit Duke: of ORMONDE

EUZABETH • THOI\r\AS, V1.scount THURLES

1 ANTHONY

Sor NICHOLAS ; JOAN, dau THOMAS ; (2) Sir THOMAS DYER ISIG-1556 5th Lord !krkeley d . l 564

JOHN of Aldcrtcy

ROBERT d 1470

Cou

-----= =

= =

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ROOOS

shown on 1840Tithe IT'()!)

Foorpmh

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2 3

Rofd'$ Ash ....,.,dr'ed Aclon A:rk 8 Deb" Por-k but the west was rebuilt in Period 5.1. A single large window (E2.4; Fig 4.2) filled the elevation at first-floor level. It was set at the back of a deep external splay, formed by !he corners of !he range, which acted as piers; !hey are finished wi!h triplestepped copings at eaves level. The coping blocks also preserve !he only traces of !he window head moulding, otherwise lost to rebuilding. The deep chamfered sill blocks (E2.9) are not original; repair works revealed !he scars of a coped sill of seven stages> detailed in the same way as the pier caps. This window was blocked and the gable above rebuilt in Period 5.1. Incorporated in !he blocking arc a number of leng!hs of window mullion, hollow-chamfered externally and channelled internally, which appear to be derived from !he window tracery (see Chapter 5 for fur!her discussion). Above !he window is a continuous string course, largely reset, but original at either end. The west eaves finial is also in ticu; it is set on a kneeler with drip mould, and is hexagonal, with a socket for an iron spindle in !he top, indicating a lost terminal. The

other finials are original but reset; the copings arc replacements of Period 5.1. The east elevation (E 1), now !he front of the house, is articulated by two large projecting chimney stacks (Fig 4.3). Both are finished with !he stepped coping detail which is used on E2, and surmounted by square diagonally-set shafts. There were two on the central stack (E L 1; one missing, the o!her rebuilt in Period 5.3), and originally !hree on !he north stack (EI.2). The survivors are original for half !heir height and offset in plan. The third has been replaced by a buttress (El.25), but is shown on !he Lysons engraving (Fig 2.4), which also depicts anomer, capped sou!h stack. This was removed in 1888 and the scar (E 1.29) is clearly visible. The central part of this elevation has been extensively rebuilt, but the extremities are original; plain 'valling with most of !he putlog holes visible. Close to the south-east corner is a blocked door E 1.3, which was replaced by !he window El . IO in Period 4.3.

Figr~n. 4. 2 17re south md of rhe tafl range (E2)

c..,.,.,

(pltolcgmpk 0 (,()pyrigJu. NMR

8898100667).

115

ACTON COURT

Fig11~ 4.3 Tht ~asr dewrifm Dj th~ hMt"'/mph' J;nglish Hn-ita~ 887000511).

joists with central tenons, allowing chc construction of a flat ceiling in the room below. All the mortices are closed, indicating that the joists were framed in[Q the beams at the time of construction. Only the terminal joists and two others were pegged (giving unpegged intervals of 5,4,5). Most arc still in position, except in Room 19 (EI6); in Room 18 they are marked with a sequence of Roman numerals.

Ground floor The ground floor of the cast range was extensively remodelled in Period 4.3, to create the prc.scnt room layout, and evidence for the original plan is fragmentary (Fig 4 .7). There are several surviving primary features, but little evidence for internal partitions. Two of the south windows (E2.1, E2.3), once hidden internally by a Period 5. 1 wall, have been reopened (ES) to expose plastered reveals with deeply splayed sills. The adjoining door E 1.3 is not visible internally. At the rear of the stack in the centre of the east wall is an opening (E7.1), 1.9 m wide with plastered reveals and an oak lintel. It is a counterpart to the large pentice opening in the west wall (E9.4), and probably served lhe same function, connecting with the service range to the east of the moat. The larger opening also has plastered reveals. 118

In contrast to the ground floor, considerable evidence survives for both the layout and decoration of the first floor (Fig 4.7). The principal features of the rooms are described below; fLxtures and decoration are considered in Chapter 5. The first floor was divided into three large rooms (R6, RIO, Rll) by two timberframed partitions, one of which is in place. All the rooms were 7.15 m (23 ft 6 in) wide and 5.25 m (17 ft 3 in) high with lengths of 10.86 m (R6; 35ft 6 in), 7. 15 m ( RIO; 23ft 6 in), and 11.9 m (R il; 39 ft 0 in). The position of the partition between Rooms 6 and 10 is clearly marked by a break in the frieze plaster (E9.9) (Fig 4.8). There is a socket for the top rail in the wall below the plate, but no other visible means of attach· mem. Below frieze level the wall has been replastered and evidence for the partition is less clear. The corresponding east wall (E7) was rebuilt in Period 5.1. The partition itself survives with both original doorways (EIO. I,2), cut down and reused between Rooms 6/7 and 8. Room 6 was lit by a large north window (E6.2, El1.2), now divided by an inserted Period 5. 1 ceiling. In the room below it is masked by later plaster, which has cracked along the line of the reveals. In the roof space the window head is clear, 5.25 m wide with plastered splays and an oak lintel; it has been infilled with rubble (Fig 5. 16). Evidence for a second window in the east wall (E7 .4), is more fragmentary; only the north reveal has survived Period 5. 1 rebuilding. However, the presence of plaster on the soffit of the wall plate, which acted as a lintel, indicates an internal width of c 3.5 m . Room 6 had three doors; in addition to E9.2 and E9.7 in the west wall, there is a door with an oak frame set across the north-

THE TUDOR HO USE

west corner (EI1.3). The space behind is roofed with oak baulks and plastered, but is

--1

truncated by later work at a depth of c 0.6 m. This appears to have been the head of a newel stair which projected from the corner

of the range. The room has its original fireplace (E7 .5: Fig 7 .4), and next to it within the thickness of the stack, a well-preserved garderobe chamber (E7 .6: Fig 4.9). It has an oak door

II .. .__

..

frame, plastered walls, and a ceiling of oak

baulks; there was a single-light window in the south wall. In the nonh ..east corner is a

"

shaft 0.8 m by 0.5 m, constructed of Pennant rubble and void to a depth of 5.8 m below the chamber floor. At this level the



\

head of an arch in the east wall is visible

above a waterlogged clay fill. The wooden seat is missing, but the subsuucture has a slab front, a rubble core and an oak baulk for a footrest. Built into the north wall at the top of the shaft is a flue c 0.3 m square,

..

which vents into the adjoining chimney

stack. This chamber owes its preservation to subsequent infilling; by Period 5.1 it had become a panelled cupboard. Room I 0 was lit by a single west window, which was wider than its Period 4.3 replacement; the outline of the plastered north reveal and the end of the lintel survive (E9.5). On the opposite wall is an original fireplace (E7. 7) and another garderobe chamber (E7.8). This was reduced in Period

Ground floor

rebuilt in Period 5 except for the north reveal and the lintel; it had an internal width ofc3.5 m.

5.1 to counteract movement in the struc-

This room has no fireplace, as the entire

ture, but has been restored to its original size of 1.8 m by 1.2 m. It resembles E7 .6, but has a better preserved window (EI3.3, E i.3), and a surviving boarded floor. The shaft is void for some of its depth, but has been rebuilt at the base, and the seat struc-

stack was removed in Period 5.3, but its position is indicated by the trimmer beam

for the hearth. There was another adjoining garderobe chamber, which can be seen projecting from the north end of the stack in the Lysons engraving (Fig 2.4). It shared a

Figurt 4. 7 &tst rcmge: sul'tlivit't !>mod 4. 1/tocuMS (/p - fi..p/=, P< ·f>ast

range

(EJ) $hqu:ing the synrmurical f>est (plwwgraph: Kinry

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ACTO:< COURT

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Fig 9.3.7c;..7

r-;g 9.2.40- 4, 46,48- 50

4 ;161

1122

2.4.24%

0.09%

MINETY, CP/80\VL

0.36%

MISC LSY, CP

41.09% 100.00%

MISC LY, CP

Tora/

deposit, ( 1828). Shcrds of cooking pots were by far the most common form r\!presentcd, 94 per cent of the total, while jugs formed just under 6 per cent. A single lamp (probably in Ham Green ware) was the only other vessel

type found. The ponery sources represented in the fill of the quarry vary in frequency to some extent in proportion to their distance from

Umm4>11t-um~d

272

cooking-pot sherds were found. They probably came from another, unknown, source (coded ,\oliSC SY). Sherds of wheehbrown, sand-tempered jugs with a plain lead glaze

Fig 9.1.2

Acton Court. It is presumed that the Limestone-tempered ware was produced somewhere in the south of historic Gloucestershire, north of the Bristol Avon and west of the Cotswold ridge. This source accountS for almost 42 per cent of the shcrds found. \X'hat is of some interest is that Mincty, in north Wiltshire (c 40 km east

of Acton Court), is the next most prolific

295

ACTON COURT

source, 24 per cent, whereas even if all We putative sherds of Ham Green ware came

from the kiln site (only c 18 km south-west of the site) they would still only raise the Ham Green total from 9 per cem to 12 per cent. The Bath Fabric A sherds probably come from several sources in central Wilt-

Table 19: Porrery from P eriod 2.4 104

0.2·1%

6 9

0.7 1%

I

0.12%

1.07%

of the pottery found. Seventy-eight sherds (7 per cent) come from unknown sources

20 136 22

and, finally, twenty-seven shcrds, from sev-

71

2.61% 8.43%

eral vessels, came from the Malvern Chase

IS

2. 14%

shire and account for just under 7 per cent

Hereford and Worcester (2.42 per cent). These figures suggest that the inhabitants of Iron Acton in the early 13th century had access to a variety of pottery sources, pre-

sumably through the local markets. The only feature to warrant com.ment is the presence of Malvern Chase wares. These presumably reached the site as a by-product of riverine trade probably via a market close to the Severn, such as Thornbury or Oldbury on Severn. In comparison to other West Country late I2th- or early I 3th-cenrury assemblages the Acton Court quarry group is interesting mainly for the absence of tripod pitchers and the low quantity of glazed jugs. Since pottery from relatively remote sources such as Malvern Chase and Minety was being used this absence cannot be due

to the isolation of the community at Iron Acton. The three possibilities which remain are, first, that the pottery assemblage repre-

sents specialised activity (i.e. cooking) and that tripod pitchers or glazed jugs would have been used and discarded elsewhere on the sire; second, thar the community was roo poor to purchase these vessels; or, third, that n suitable substirure (of wood,

leather or metal) was available to the inhabitants of Iron Acton. Period 2.4 The quarry group is very similar to most of

the other stratified assemblages from Period 2 at Acton Court (su Table 19) nor is there any obvious difference in the character of the quarry group assemblage from that of the 12th- to early 13th-century pottery found as residual sherds in later deposits. The only types of contemporary date not found in the quarry group arc a sherd of a south-cast \'ililtshire tripod pitcher (SE\'\1) from 1868 (Period 2.4), a sherd of a cooking pot with rounded oolitic iron ore inclusions (BOXB) from 1857 (Period 2.4) and various unidentified coarsewares, each rep-

2.38% 16. 15%

0.12%

poneries centred on Hanley Castle in

296

12.3S%

2

2 7

0.24% O.S3% 0. 12%

49 I

362

5.S2% 0.12% 42.99%

0. 12%

7

O.S3% 0. 12%

IS

842

2. 14%

BATHA,CP BOXB,CP

BR,CP BR,JUG BR?, CPIBOWI.. HG,JUG

f'ig 9.2.68

HG?, CP

Fig 9.2.45

MALV,CP MINETY,CP M.JNETY,TP

MISCKY,CP MISC l.KY, TP MJSC LSKY, CP MISC LSKY, TP MJSCLSY,CP MISC LSY, JUG MISCLY,CP MISC SKW,JUG MISCSKY,CP MISC SKY, JUG ~USCSY, CP

0.12%

SEW, TP

0.12%

SNTG, VASE

0.12%

STROAT~

I 00.00%

F;g 9.1.32-S

f-ig 9.3.79

Fig 9.2.66 Fig 9.1.7 Fig 9.1.23 Pig 9.1.5-6 Fig 9.2.64

BOWL

T01al

resented by a single sherd (MISC ILK\XI, MISC ILSKY and MISC ISY). Period 2.5 The latest stratified pottery in Period 2 comes from rubble and clay infiU over the sire prior ro the construction of the moared house (Period 2.5). In comparison with that

from the quarry and the Period 2.4 deposits there is a much higher proportion of ?Ham

Green cooking pots (Table 20). Overall, however, the assemblages are remarkably

similar and there is no evidence for an increase in the use of glazed wares.

Table 20: Pottery from Period 2.5 44 129

2 13 9

I

9

98 4 3 1I

14.15% 41.4S% 0.64% 4.18% 2.89% 0.32% 0.32% 0.32% 2.S9% 31.5 1% 1.29% I 00.00%

BATHA, CP JiG, CP HG,JUG t\1ALV, CP

(l'Og 9.1.34-5)

MlNETY,CP

MlSC U.SKY, TP MISCJSY, SJ MISCLSY,MISC LSY, CP (F;g 9.1.24-5) ,\USCLY,CP MISCSY,CP

Touzl

LIF!l AT ACTON COURT, PINOS ANO SPEC IALIST REPORTS

There are two sherds which arc undoubt-

edly intrusive in Period 2 deposits; both are typical of the 16th century (contexts: stakehole 1496 and red silty clay 1609).

Table 21: Pottery from Period 3.1 deposits containing Bristol Redcliffe type jug sherds I

Later medieval pottery (Period 3) Unlike Periods 2 or 4 there arc no large closed assemblages of ponery associared with the various phases of construction of the manorial complex in Period 3. Seventeen contexts assigned to Period 3. 1 produced pottery, of which the majority contain assemblages indistillguishablc in the range and frequency of ponery from that found in Period 2. There are two definite intrusive I are 18th-century sherds in context I 404 and one 16th-century or later shcrd recorded as coming from the original south wall of Room G, contexr 75, but probably either on top of or adjacent to the wall, which is undoubtedly of Period 3. 1. Context 1433 (clay to north of Room A north wall) produced an assemblage of fourteen sherds of which one was definitely of late medieval date, a Minety-type wheelthrown jug. Two other shcrds in this group were from plain Bristol Redcliffe cype jugs, which must therefore also be regarded as suspect and the remaining eleven sherds were typical of Period 2. Although the context is undoubtedly correctly phased, it was cut by the construction trench of rhe rebuilt Period 3.4a north wall, from where the later shcrds may have come. A sherd of a Cistercian ware cup is intrusive in the Period .3. J b abutment, predating the porch (1482). This must have come from the partial robbing, not the construction of the abutment. An unidentified wheel thrown lid is also likely to be intrusive (Fig 9.2.71). Five contexts in Period 3.1 contained sherds of Bristol Redcliffe type jugs and other probably contemporary wares. In total these contexts produced only thirteen sherds of pottery, of which five were of types found in Period 2. New at this srage were BrilVBoarstaU type jugs (one sherd, code OXAM, Fig 9.3.88) and unidentified wheelthrown sand-tempered wares (MISC MSKW, Fig 9.3.98, and MISC SW, Fig 9.2.71). These contexts: 1450 (fill of cut 1445); 1830, 232 and 248 (primary makeup layers at the west end of Room G) are probably the only ones assigned to Period 3.1 to contain contemporary pottery and show that Bristol RedcliJfe jugs first appear on the sire around the time when the Period 3. I manor house was being constructed.

5 4

13

7 .69 % 38.46% 30.77% 7.69% 7.69 % 7.69% 100.00%

llATHA.Cl' BR,jUG HG?,CP MISC MSKW, UO MJSCSW, Cl'

OXAM, JUG Toral

Only one context assigned to Period 3.2, 1730 (rubble and red loam cut by Period 3.3 drain 1683), produced pottery, a small assemblage similar to those from Periods 2 and 3.1. Seven deposits were assigned to Period 3.2- 3.3, of which three produced only small collections of early 13th-century type pottery, almost certainly residual by this period. Three of the remaining four contexts also contained only small collections, but these included Bristol Redcliffe type jugs. In each case the sherds had features, for example a bridge spout or ironrich applied strips, which would suggest a mid- 13th· to mid-14th-