Possible Medieval/Post Medieval Settlement at Hawkeswell Farm

Description of this historic site

A possible settlement dating to the Medieval or Post-Medieval period. The site is located 500m south west of Hawkeswell Farm.

Notes about this historic site

1 An archaeological evaluation recovered evidence for occupation between the 12th and 14th centuries. The evidence was suggestive of property boundaries rather than settlement features; however domestic activity is suggested by the finds of pottery and tile in the area. There is also evidence for activity from 1600 to 1800 but no evidence was found relating to the enclosure seen on the OS first edition map.
2 A series of features dating from the medieval period to the present were uncovered during excavation of the southern part of this area in connection with the BNNR work in 2001. Two groups of medieval pits were uncovered, one of which was associated with a boundary ditch. The remains of a substantial garden wall, the north end of which appears to form a square turret, was observed in the eastern part of the site. A similar structure, though severly damaged, reflects this in plan with a westerly aligned wall between the two. The western wall appears to flank a path ending in an ornamental entrance-way that would have given good views over the nearby ruined priory. These structures belonged to a Post Medieval manor house. Four long hedge boundaries delineating areas of land to the north and to the south west are interpreted as former land divisions associated with the old village of Hawkswell that lay south of the site. A small section is also visible to the west on the site plan. A north-south hollow way was observed over the full length of the eastern part of the site.
3 At least two phases of medieval activity were identified. Heavy human and animal traffic was identified in phase 1, possibly in the location of a building. This was followed by activity involving burning, with deposits of burnt clay and charcoal-rich soil being dumped in and around a number of pits. The phase 2 features are interpreted as relating to the creation of a formal garden on the site, perhaps associated with a large house predating Hawkeswell Hall. They consist of a range of stone or stone-lined features, including a garden wall with a substantial gateway and water feature. The site was extensively landscaped in the early post-medieval period.
4 Watkins reports that the settlement of Hawkeswell in the upper Blythe valley in the Arden is an example of a shrunken, rather than deserted, settlement where the well-established medieval settlement is now replaced by a single farm. Watkins states that the main decline was due to engrossing by the Blythe family, first recorded in 16th century.
The first record of the medieval settlement was in the 13th century. Watkins suggests that the origins are probably earlier as the place name is Old English. Hawkeswell was never very large even in the 14th century, with a maximum of upto 10 holdings suggesting 50 inhabitants.
It was not a separate manor. Hawkeswell was owned by the Lord of Coleshill and was one of the tithings of the Coleshill view of frankpledge.
By the early 14th century it had its own field system. Watkins states the extent of arable was considerable as surviving ridge and furrow suggests that at some point most of the fields that now comprise Hawkeswell farm were ploughed. From the mid 14th century onwards there are increasing references to pastureland.
Later fortunes of the hamlet were tied up with the Blythe family who rebuilt Hawkeswell Hall in 1618. By 1634 most of the family were in Fillongly or Allesley. The present Hawkesewell farm was built in 1860 to replace the crumbling Hall, which was demolished in 1966.

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