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Photo Credit: Richard Law 2020

Scheduled Monument; The Moat

Did you know that we have a monument dating back to the 13th Century? That the Moat was the location of importance during the English Civil Wars (1642-1651)? That the area was largely Royalist in those wars? How about St Leonard's Church tower being made by the ruins of rubble from a lord's manor? Or that there was a deer park and large fish pond nearby at one time? This amazing scheduled monument, whose secrets are held in the site and have yet to be explored, tells a tale of the area and of the national story of England! Read on to learn more...


The History

In his online website named A History of Birmingham Places and Place Names, William Dargue writes:


 13th Century: The moat and the surrounding site were the chief seat of the Littleton family from the 13th century (1200's) onwards. A deer park is recorded here in 1360, although it does not seem to have amounted to much. By the end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1603), there were 20 red and 200 fallow deer. 


15th Century: It is said that Judge Lyttelton of Frankley, who died here in 1481, was responsible for the digging of Westminster Pool. It is allegedly so-called because the area of the pool was the same as that of Westminster Hall (73mx20m) in London.  However, a fishpond measuring 140m by 35m was sited across the road to the north east of the moated site, and was surveyed in the 1970s. This has since been infilled and levelled and is not included in the scheduling. The association of the moated site with recorded fishponds, and with the nearby church, provide evidence of the wider setting and environment of the moated site.

17th Century: By the 17th century (1600's), a fine brick mansion called 'Frankley Hall' stood on the moat island. Frankley Hall stood from at least 1601. At that date it was referred to in parliamentary papers as 'a very fair brick house and in good repair [with] large and sufficient barns, stables, and outhouses.'

Frankley Hall was burned down on the 17/05/1645 by Royalists under Prince Rupert, during the English Civil Wars (1642-1651), to prevent it being used by the opposition, The Parliamentarians, as a garrison hold in the area, The dressed stones that remained were later used  in 1751, to build the tower at St Leonard's Church to replace a wooden one. There were two fires in the 1900s that caused significant damage to the tower, so it is unclear if the Frankley Hall dress stone remain. After the burning of the hall in 1645, the deer park was not reinstated.

The Detail

Historic England reports that: The moated site at Frankley Hall is a well-preserved and well-documented example of a manorial moated site with descriptions of the site ranging from Leylands comments of the 1530s, to an archaeological survey of the 1970s. There is little evidence of recent disturbance which suggests that important structural remains will survive within the island, whilst the water-logged conditions will preserve environmental deposits which will provide information about land use and the environment around the moated site during its occupation.


The monument includes the buried and earthwork remains of a rectangular moated site measuring approximately 120m by 100m and oriented south west to north east. The moat is sited 130m west of St Leonard's Church at the base of the east facing slope of Church Hill. The arms of the moat are water-logged, except to the north east where the moat arm is only partly water-filled. They are 5m to 10m wide and 3m to 4m deep being widest at the angles of the moat. The banks of the moat are not raised above the surrounding ground level. Those on the south east display evidence of brick revetment of 16th or 17th century construction.

The moat encloses a rectangular island which measures approximately 80m by 60m and is raised 1m to 2m above the surrounding ground level. The surface of the island is undulating and contains a number of shallow depressions which represent the buried building remains of Frankley Hall. To the south west of the moat is another smaller platform, measuring 60m by 20m, which is integral to the moated site and which is believed to be the site of the gatehouse. This platform is surrounded by ditches and contains a large hollowed area. Historic England., 

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