The manor house in 12th century England

A few months ago I posted about the non-fiction I was reading, including works on housing in the 12th century. The locations in For King and Country vary from the small village of Greyton with its manor house to Castle l’Aigle, Sir Stephan’s boyhood home, from the town of Nottingham and its impressive castle, to peasant wattle and daub cottages.

Boothby Pagnell

It was in the book The English Mediaeval House where I stumbled across the 12th century manor house in Boothby Pagnell, Lincolnshire. Further reading in Manorial Domestic Buildings in England and Northern France led me to additional information about the two-storey chamber block house there. Archaeological evidence published after these two books indicate there was a structure – a massive one, maybe a great hall, dating to the 11th or 12th century – built of stone and attached to this building:

It is now assumed that the ‘Manor House’ was part of a larger complex which would have included a ground floor hall. Resistivity survey has detected a large rectangular outline to the east of the Manor House, shown by a small excavation in 1996 to belong to a massive stone building, either of the late 11th or early 12th century. The surviving building would now more correctly be defined as a chamber block and adds further weight to a changing view regarding the story of the evolution of the English House.¹

So, dear readers, imagine a hall to the left, remove that stairwell to the upper floor – the main doorway would have been into the hall. There you have Greyton manor, the home of Henry de Grey.

¹ From Boothby Pagnell Manor, Gatehouse Gazetteer, last updated 7/26/2017.

Image credit: By User: Legrand sebastien – Own work, Public Domain,


Charlene Newcomb is the author of the Battle Scars series, 12th century historical fiction filled with war, political intrigue, and a knightly romance of forbidden love set during the reign of Richard the Lionheart.

Char also writes science fiction. Echoes of the Storm was published in July 2020.

Download the free short story, A Knight’s Tale, when you sign up for Char’s Newsletter. You’ll also be first to know about book news before everybody else, and take part in giveaways and special offers.

5 thoughts on “The manor house in 12th century England

  1. Cool! It’s rather nice to have a visual image of a piece of architecture that features in a novel, especially a historical novel. Thanks for putting this up.

    • Thanks for commenting, Jadey – I think too often we get a sense of castles or peasant cottages in films and historical fiction, and I was looking for something in between.

  2. Char, “The English Medieval House” is a great resource. I have it at hand beside my desk. I hope you have the chance to get back to England and visit Boothby and some of the other surviving manor houses of the period. Of course, it’s hard to find houses that haven’t been too badly “mucked about” in later centuries, but “The English Medieval House” will certainly point you in the right direction! And even seeing houses of a moderately later period (like Ayedon) can really help you visualize. (Not to mention how much fun it is to travel in England!)

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