Hook’s Medieval Manor House
Hall Garths, the land surrounded by the moat, is Scheduled Listed Monument No. 1017823.
One of about 6000 medieval moated sites in England. It is particularly well preserved in its shape and the detail of its layout. Most of these moated sites were not built for fortification but as status symbols for the Lords of the Manors. We believe that this is what happened at Hall Garths.
The illustration is based on what we know about the Lords of the Manor of Hook during medieval times, details of the surviving site, archaeological work on it and information from other similar sites. English court records show that, in 1304-1307, William de Houk was High Sheriff of Yorkshire – and an important man in the court of King Edward I and in some ways the most important man in the county of Yorkshire. So this illustration is of what the Grand Manor House at Hall Garths, Houk may have looked like then.
Geophysical surveys in 2013 showed no foundations on the site, so the buildings are shown as being wooden-framed which was common for such houses at that time. The Great Hall and living quarters are disconnected from the large kitchens – to reduce the risk of fire.
A pottery is shown as pot sherds and other items including a medieval roof tile and brick were found by Harold Garside in a dig here in the 1960’s. These and other evidence are consistent with a pottery being on the site – for example, the right clay soil type is still found in the ground here.
Though the moat was mainly a status symbol it would nevertheless also have been a source of fish and other food. It was not part of the original manor house in 1225 when the chapel was built in the courtyard, but was probably added during the later part of the 13th Century. Various deeds confirm the existence of a Hermitage nearby which may have pre-existed the Manor House.
Coming towards the church is a funeral procession for we know that the church, the only stone built building (which survives much as it was then), had been built in 1225 as a chantry chapel for the de Houks and we can be reasonably sure that family members would have been buried within it. In the larger the illustration (further details below) there is shown in the river a ship with the King’s standard indicating that the King’s envoy has come to this funeral.
A few items found in an Archaeological dig in Hall Garths by Harold Garside in the 1960’s (now kept in Goole Museum). Sadly, some other items Garside’s team found were later stolen.
A period jug handle (found locally but not here), shows the quality of glaze that was used by people 800 years ago.
On the handle of the jug you can see how small fingers were used to create the decorative shapes.
A section of medieval roof tile showing how tiles of the period are similar to tiles made today
Pieces of unidentified cooked bone fragment from the Medieval Manor House
A boars tusk was also found during the dig but has subsequently disappeared
Much of the area shown on this illustration (left) was known as Inclesmore, in the Wapentake of Osgoldcross (a Wapentake was an administrative area). Most of it belonged to the Lords of the Manor here at Hook – lands stretching down to Reedness and Ousefleet across to Thorne and Rawcliffe.
Hook was on good pasture land where animals could be reared and crops could be easily grown. Around it the marshes stretch out in all directions and contain a plentiful supply of wildfowl and fish, all important food at the time. The swans shown were (as now) reserved for the Monarch. On 11th March 1310, The King’s Court Calendar of Patent Rolls mentions a charge against Swinefleeters for stealing 200 swans worth £100 – a sizeable sum for 1310.
In the distance the peat moors are shown with people bringing cut peat back from them. This was the main fuel in marshy areas such as this and it was vitally important in allowing people to live well here. The far moorland was known as Hatfield Chase. It was a hunting ground that Kings of England used and enjoyed. To reduce the flooding which hindered the hunts, King James I started, and Charles 1 completed arrangements for Vermuyden to engineer the drainage of the area. This included the re-direction of the River Don to feed into the ‘Dutch River’, which was eventually cut to enter the Ouse at Goole.
Extracts from the English Heritage web site:
“Hall Garths is a well preserved example of a small but complex 13th century moated site. Remains of the manor house will survive on the island together with evidence of the medieval life and economy of the site. These will include building foundations, rubbish pits, and features related to small scale industrial activity and gardening. The monument’s importance is heightened by the good preservation of organic remains and pollen within the moat ditches. This will provide valuable information about the medieval site’s local environment which rarely survives elsewhere. The moat ditches are also expected to retain timbering related to one or more bridges across the moats, wooden and leather items lost or thrown away, animal and fish bones and other discarded food remains.”
“The monument includes the buried and earthwork remains of a medieval moated manor house site located immediately to the south of the 14th century St Mary’s Church. The moated site was leased to Thomas Ughtred in 1402 by St Mary’s Abbey in York. In the mid-1970s, foundations, hearths, pottery and wooden stakes were reported as having been found by the owner of the site Test cores taken by the Humber Wetlands Project in 1995-6 revealed that the moat ditches contained surviving organic material with good preservation of pollen grains. The moated site is roughly rectangular in plan, orientated north-south. The moat ditch, which is typically 1.5m to 2m deep and 15m wide, surrounds an island 70m east-west and 90m north-south. The northern moat arm is wider than the other sides, being about 25m across, and is crossed midway by a causeway which is in line with the west end of the church. This causeway has been broadened in recent years, but was reported as the remains of a causeway or pair of bridge abutments in the 1960s by the Ordnance Survey. There is no evidence for an external bank around the moat; instead the upcast from the ditches was used to raise the ground surface of the island. The main island is subdivided with a further moat ditch, 15m wide and up to 2m deep, cut around the south east corner of the island to form a second island approximately 35m square. The ground surface of this smaller island is slightly higher than the rest. Linking the north west corner of this smaller island to the causeway across the northern moat arm there is a slightly sunken trackway.”