LANGTOFT 1: LANGTOFT HALL
This moated enclosure is situated to the east of the present village of Langtoft on the line of the Car Dyke (Fig 72). Abutting upon the site of Langtoft Hall, it can probably be identified as the boundary ditch of the curia of the manor of Langtoft. From before the Conquest the whole of the settlement belonged to the abbey of Crowland (1). The gift of a certain Fregist, the original hall was probably situated closer to the centre of the vill, and the present site may reflect the growing importance of the fen and fen-edge as a resource from the twelfth century. Throughout the High Middle Ages the manor was a major source of income and produce for the community. Up to the mid fourteenth century the land was managed directly by the abbey and was farmed primarily for the market. But from c.1368 the demesne was leased to the villeins as the price of agricultural produce fell in the aftermath of the Black Death (2). Nevertheless, the manorial complex was not abandoned, and at the Dissolution reference is made to the houses and buildings within the site (3). The manor house subsequently passed to the Hyde family and remained the house of the principal landowner in the vill into the eighteenth century when 'the material of parts of the Hall were sold off in rooms', and the present farm house, still known as Langtoft Hall, was built on the site (4).
The surviving length of moat is only a fragment of what was visible on the site when the 1930s 6" Ordnance Survey map was drawn up (Fig 73). The L-shaped moat was then much longer in both directions; it is now (1988) under plough. The site of Langtoft Hall is marked south of the present house. Building foundations can be seen in that position in the 1947 aerial photograph (5), but there are other apparent foundations within the moated area. Although the moat belongs to an earlier house, this is another instance where there has been post-medieval garden activity. Physical remains of garden structures (unsurveyed) can still be seen in the paddock on the east side of the hall. They appear to be of different dates but all relatively recent. From the north-east corner extend two lengths of high red brick wall typical of a nineteenth century kitchen garden. South of the present house is an older brick wall with stone arcading; this may be part of a previous house or garden. Facing this, along half of the east side of the paddock, lie collapsed wall stones with the bases of two stone gate piers still standing. The ground drops slightly east of this wall towards the moat, and the aerial photograph referred to shows a track leading eastwards. A similar pair of truncated gate piers constructed of re-used stone can be seen on the main A15 road 700 metres to the west, from where there was also a driveway to the hall. Other earthworks of possible walls can be seen in the field west of the hall site, around the rectangular pond. The dovecote was still standing in 1947, and it is likely that there were formerly more extensive farm buildings in this area. The course of the Roman Car Dyke, which coincides with the east end of the garden, is most clearly visible south of the Fen Road but does continue north towards another earthwork, Langtoft 2. It may be that the Car Dyke was initially deliberately incorporated into the moat at Langtoft Hall,but that later alterations resulted in a slight re-alignment, as the hollow now seems to be in a position over the east bank rather than over the channel. The relationship of the two creates additional archaeological interest.
1. S. Raban, The Estates of Thorney and Crowland, Cambridge 1977, 13; Lincs DB, 11/3.
2. Platts, 111-17, 172.
3. Religious Houses ii, 149.
4. Marrat iii, 23-4.
5. RAF, CPE UK 1932 2107