LAVINGTON ALIAS LENTON
c. TF 027304
The earthworks to the north and east of the church of St Peter of Lavington (Fig 92) lie principally in a field still known locally as Lordship Close (1), or The Lordship, and relate to an elaborate manorial complex and a garden. The village now appears to be a bifocal settlement, but the isolation of the nucleus to the east is probably due to contraction of the settlement or possibly a shift of site. Aerial photographs (2) show a few tofts and crofts south of the church and stream. The manor house site lies on the north side of the church from which it is separated by a small lane. The remainder of the close is on a considerable slope, running down from the level of the church and manor site on the west to the stream on the south, and contains a variety of different features (Pl XIII) (Fig 93). Several of these appear to be the remains of formal gardens, others to relate to water control. This may suggest a medieval manorial fishpond complex later converted to a more ornamental use. North of the house site are two parallel banks which may be prospect mounts; similar ones exist in the neighbouring village of Keisby. In both instances they would have afforded pleasant views over the surrounding landscape as well as across the other earthworks. On the more level ground in the northern part of the site are two more or less square ponds, each about 20 by 20 metres, although the more northerly one has been partially filled in in recent years. The east side of Lordship Close is bordered by a narrow lane carried across the valley of the stream on a substantial dam. Above and east of the dam is a shallow clay-lined hollow or pool. On the Tithe Map this area is named ' Swamp', a word which sounds like a deliberate garden creation, as the popular 'Wilderness', rather than a vernacular designation. A similar layout to that at Lenton can be seen at Stroxton, south of Grantham, where the pool above the dam still holds water. It is not clear how the flow of the water was directed and controlled, but the effect could have been quite impressive by small country house standards. The other pronounced feature in the centre of the pasture is a wide hollow way leading down to the stream. In places where the banks at the sides of this way have been damaged by beasts a few potsherds have been recovered; these include Late Saxon Stamford ware and the footring of a samian bowl.
The tenurial context of the site can be firmly identified. In 1086 there were two holdings which are described as Lavington in Domesday Book and a third which was said to be in Little Lavington (3). This last is later represented by a fee in Hanby, which is not named in the Survey, and Gilbert de Gant's four and a third carucates in Lavington are subsequently located in Little Lavington (4). The remaining estate which was held by the archbishop of York and is well-documented into the fifteenth century can therefore be identified with the present site. Before the Conquest it was held by Ulf son of Tope by book, and was subsequently bought by the archbishop. Ranulf, his clerk enjoyed its issues in 1086 and, held by knight's service, it descended to successive lords as an enfeoffed estate (5).
In the light of the lord's liberties, there was probably already a hall in Lenton before the Conquest, and it is likely that this was in the vicinity of the church which belonged to the fee. Late Saxon Stamford ware has been recovered from the eroded banks of the hollow way in the centre of the pasture, but short of excavation it is not possible to identify the pre-Conquest curia with any part of the earthworks surveyed. As elsewhere in the region, it is probable that the desertion of the tofts and crofts began in the fourteenth century, but it is clear that the manor house survived into the post medieval period when the formal gardens were laid out. The date of its decay and demolition has not been determined.
1. P. Chowne, c.1979; CCAP, BYH 98; anonymous.
2. LAO, Tithe Award .
3. Lincs DB, 2/42; 24/86; 68/21.
4. Lincs DB, lix-lx.
5. BF, 183, 1047; RH i, 261b; FA iii, 150, 204; CI ii, 366; CI xiii, 77-8; CI xv, 262-3.