Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Markenfield Hall, UK--The Moat!

The main feature that drew us to Markenfield Hall is the moat. This medieval fortified home still has a moat full of water surrounding it. Such a feature is remarkably hard to find in England. We've seen a few dry ditches, but nothing approaching what we've been led to expect from Hollywood movies, TV shows, and comic books.

Moat view from the parking area

The moat and the house are hidden behind a row of farm houses that are still used for farming. The estate has some sheep and cows, as we discovered on our walk around the place.

Horse trailer and buildings outside the moat

Even more buildings!

L found out the door was locked, bummer!

The moat goes all the way around the house and is fed by two underwater springs. Interestingly, that spot is the only part of the moat that doesn't freeze in the winter, so ducks and the black swans that live here can still swim around.

Black swans!

A little ladder for little paddlers

The moat and the house were built for defense in 1310. The country was on the verge of a civil war and Lord Markenfield received a license to crenelate his home, which means fortifying it. Later in the 14th century, Scots would come south every summer to raid northern English towns, including nearby Ripon, so manor houses needed protection. Of the six fortified manor houses near Ripon, this is the only one to be still standing today.

We walked around the moat and house anti-clockwise as was recommended. We came to a stile leading into the eastern fields, where cows awaited us.

Crossing in stile

Cows unimpressed by us

The eastern end of the house looks well defended and has some of the previous 1230 house incorporated into the structure. Also, the large, arched window is the eastern window for the chapel inside the hall.

Farmhouse inside the moat with few windows facing out

The main part of the hall with the chapel window and defensive crenelations on top

Coming around to the north side, which is the back of the hall, the chimney for the downstairs kitchen and the great hall above is easily seen. A small door leads into a mud room, where dogs would go in and out along with any workers who needed to visit the back gardens.

Back of the Hall

Footbridge to the great kitchen

A small orchard provides apples for the house and a small garden produces vegetables and herbs for the kitchen. We also discovered another small pond!

Extra water if needed

The west side of the house has farm workers' quarters that have not changed much since the medieval days.

North end of the farmers' quarters

More of the farmers' quarters, defended by trees rather than crenelations!

The walk led us back to the gate house, which had a draw bridge up to the 1700s. The upstairs room is now used by the administrator of the estate, though its original use by the gateman was probably the same--to keep track of who came in and out and what they were up to.


In our next post, we go inside Markenfield Hall!

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