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Appleby History > History Tour > The Moat House Part 2

The Moat House Maintenance and Repair

A history of the Moat House after the de Applebys left, gleaned from conveyances and leases, 1598 to 1829

By Alan Roberts

Part of the Moat House – the original stone gatehouse – was already ancient when purchased by Sir Wolstan Dixie in 1599 for the trustees of the free school at Market Bosworth. This old gatehouse and the comparatively ‘new’ timber framed extension built after the de Applebys left in 1560 would have needed at least some occasional maintenance.

Moat House old print
Click image for larger view

The moat house had succession of occupants after 1560. Edward Griffyn of Dingley in Northamptonshire sold the property to Wolstan Dixie of London  through a series of legal processes, covenants, fines and recoveries from November 1598. The Dixies then granted the capital messuage and its attached lands to Market Bosworth Free School who leased it to a succession of tenants for an initial yearly rent of £50. During the course of the seventeenth century a series of leases of Appleby moat house by Sir Wolstan Dixie and son acting on behalf of the Grammar School, throws some light on the provisions made to maintain the building in good repair while it was being occupied.

Bosworth map
Moat House: 1785 Bosworth School Map

In March 1619 the 'Mansion house' together with six yardlands and other appurtenances, five pasture closes, two crofts, a messuage or dwelling house, another two and a half yardlands and the water mill at Measham, was leased to Humphrey Francys of Barwell, a yeoman for three years. 

Humphrey does not appear to have occupied the premises or stayed long if he did for in October 1621 there was another lease for three lives which was also terminated fairly abruptly when in December 1628 yet another lease was drawn up. This time the 'Mannor Place or capital messuage of Appulbie the greate' was granted to Thomas and William Hartill of Stretton-en-le-field as feoffees of the Grammar School. The lease stipulated that  'from time to time as the court shall appoynt’ they were required to ‘permit upon summons or warninges to the said court’  any of the lessors to enter the house and for them to 'mark and brand’ the edges of the ridges and baulkes in the common fields and other places 'with a great Roman S'. The tenants were not to 'lopp, topp shred…nor putt down' any oak, ash, elm or fruit trees, except for getting an annual allowance of timber for repairing the premises. [DE 43/107] 

The eighteenth-century illustration in Nichols’ survey shows that the site was well covered with established trees suitable for this purpose. Sir Wolstan Dixie made further provisions 'at his and their charge' for 'plasteringe the outside of the dwelling house before the feast of St Michael the archangel', presumably for the repair of the timber and plaster additions. [DE 43/108]

 In October 1649 another lease drawn up for eighty years reinforced these rights, inserting provision for the lessees, Dixie, Farmer and Saunders

 digging and getting of cole stones, plaster and mettell…for the delveing, digging and mining searching for to gett or find the same… and to their own use to convert so much stone as they … have occasion to use or ymploy in, on or about the … premises. [DE 43/109]

The tenants were thereby given an opportunity to obtain coal for fuel, stones for repairing the old gatehouse and plaster for the walls. From time to time the old moat house may have been left unoccupied. In the 1663 constables’ returns for the hearth tax assessment, for example, it is recorded as an ‘empty house’ with six hearths in the possession of John Stanton.

The reference to Richard Saunders is curious as in December 1711 he is referred to as a ‘lunatic’, an agreement having being drawn up to cover his rights and interests as a result of this and other leases made to him in his infancy. [DE 43/111] 

 The moat house continued to be let to a succession of farming tenants over the course of the eighteenth century. In June 1715 the ‘Manor House’ with all lands appertaining and 'three water grist mills' with fishing rights were leased to Mathew White of Great Appleby.  In 1753 the land and water mills were given to William Cooper. A few years later in April 1753 an agreement was drawn up leasing the lands to Joseph Wilkes of Overseal. By the early nineteenth century the lands were being let on a yearly tenancy first to the Wilkes, then Thomas Heafield and Thomas Taverner, local yeoman farmers, a further indication perhaps that the house itself may have been left unoccupied.  

Over the course of the next century the moat house gradually fell into disrepair, until its timely rescue on the brink of its being demolished and shipped off to America in 1935. 


Appleby Magna Manor Court records: L.R.O. Box. 4008

Market Bosworth Grammar School records: L.R.O. DE 43/104 -111

(c) Alan Roberts, March 2001

Conveyances and Leases of Great Appleby Moat House

23rd January 1599 Exemplification of a fine, 2 messuages, 2 cottages, 2 tofts, 2 mills, 1 dovecote, 2 gardens, 2 orchards, 200 acres of land, 60 acres of meadow, 100 acres of pasture, 100 acres of furze and heath, 3s rent, common of pasture for all kinds of cattle, view of frankpledge &c. at Appleby Magna, Measham, Oakthorpe, by Edward Gryffyn Esq. and Lucy his wife, to Wolstan Dixie, gent. And Francis his wife. 

DE 43/51

27th June 1599 Recovery [of above] Thomas Beaumont Esq. and Francis Beaumont Esq. Grantee Wolstan Dixie &c.

DE 43/52

23rd November, 1598 A Capital messuage, 6 yardlands of arable, a water mill, 4 holmes and 5 closes of pasture, messuages, 2 crofts and 2½ yardlands, ley and meadow, half a yardland, ley and meadow at Appleby Magna. Grantor Edward Griffyn of Dingley, Northants and Lucy his wife, to Wolstan Dixie of London Esq. and Francis his wife.

DE 43/55

19th December, 1598 Letter of Attorney for possession of lands above. Grantee Robert Pilkington of Leicester, Gent. Grantor Wolstan Dixie.

DE 43/56

9th October, 1600 Covenant to levy a fine on lands (above) Grantee Augustine Esq., Nichols of London, John Ashburnham Esq. of Sussex, John Adye of London, gent. Grantor Wolstan Dixie.

DE 43/57-58

12th November, 1600 Fine for 2 messuages, 2 cottages, 2 tofts, 2 mills, a dovecote, 2 gardens, 2 orchards, 200 acres of land, 60 acres meadow &c at Appleby Magna, Measham, Oakthorpe. Grantor Nichols, Ashburnham, Adye. Grantee Wolstan Dixie.

DE 43/59-62

1st November, 1601 Bargain and Sale for lands {above] Grantee Governors of Market Bosworth Grammar School including William Pelsant, parson of Market Bosworth, churchwardens Dixie, Beaumont, William Farmer, yeoman.

DE 43/63

1st November, 1601 Lease and sale [as above]. DE 43/64

23rd March, 1619 Lease for three years of Mansion House and 6 yardlands appertaining, watermill in Measham, 4 holmes and 5 closes of pasture, 1 messuage, 2 crofts and 2½ yardlands &c Grantor Governors of Bosworth School to Humphrey Francys, yeoman of Barwell.

DE 43/104

5th May, 1619 Lease for three years [as above]. DE 43/105

10th October, 1621 Lease for three lives of Appleby lands [above] including watermilne …newly erected and built in or neere unto the place where the Anncient water milne lately stoode …in parish of Measham (called Meyse Milne)…lands, dovecotes, edifices &c lately in occupation of Thomas Roper, rent £50…to mark bounds and permit yearly courts &c. to Richard Dixie of Appleby Magna.

DE 43/106

1st April 1628 Lease of Manor Place or capitall messuage of Appulbie the greate..that they [Hartills] from time to time, as feofees of the Grammar School shall appoynt, shall  and will permit upon summons or warninges to the said courts or any of them into the house to come there and do … make and brand all the lease and ground lying within the common fields..with a greate Roman S…that they shall maintain the said tillage ground, that is to say baulkes in the ridges at each end and premises so marked and kept in the end of the said terme shall leave and yield upon and that … Nor lopp, topp, shred or gerdlefell, nor putt down any trees of oke, ash, elm or fruyte now growing … or hereafterto belonging … to maintain true bounds every seven years after a Terra &c.witnesses Henrie Baker, Nicholas Pratt [mark], Joseph Rouse, John Mould, Humphrey Seale, Jonathan Roster…yearly rent £50…&c.

DE 43/107

18th December, 1628 Lease of Manor house and gardens, 4 closes, a piece of meadow in Oakthorpe, lands in common fields &c Grantor Wolstan Dixie, Grantee Thomas Hartill and William Hartill of Stretton-en-le-field. [Allowing felling of] 2 trees only per annum of oke or ash or elm … the said Sir Wolstan Dixie at his and their charge plasteringe the outside of the dwelling house before the feast of St Michael the archangell.. and the premises so repaired in the end of the said term…&c

DE 43/108

18th October, 1649 Lease for 80 years &c. to Wolstan Dixie, the younger of Market Bosworth and Richard Saunders of Market Bosworth. [Similar safeguards to trees etc. allowing that] shall be lawful for Dixie, Farmer and Saunders … digging and getting cole stones, plaster and mettell … or for the delveing, digging and mining or searching for to gett or find the same…to have, take, digge and gett … and to their own use to convert so much stone as they … have occasion to use or ymploy in, upon or about the said devised premises… excepting all leet courts &c … also one pool or dam called Banett Milne dame or pool … in parish of Netherseal… rent £120 p.a.

DE 43/109

9th October, 1656 Lease for 80 years of Manor House and 6 yardlands of arable, meadow and pasture belonging, water mill, 4 holmes and 5 closes, messuage and 2½ yardlands appertaining, 1½ yardlands of arable meadow and pasture,windmill at Appleby Magna, Measham. Grantor Governors of the Grammar School, to Wolstan Dixie the younger, gent. and Richard Saunders of Market Bosworth…rent £46 p.a….it appears that Dixie had many years since disbursed £200 towards the schoolmistresses’ house and for lands in Mortmain…

DE 43/110

1st December, 1711 Agreement over rights and interests which Richard Saunders, a lunatic, possessed as a result of a lease made to him in his infancy of the school lands etc. in Appleby. Grantor Richard Thompson of Market Bosworth and Richard Smith, head of the Grammar School, to Governors.

DE 43/111

[attached] Tripartite Indenture…Complaint was made in Chancery concerning the illegality of the lease…  in consideration of £100 p.a. support…Thompson did relinquish natural right and title  to the custody and guardianship of Saunders and £300 so expended in his maintenance…

6th June, 1715 Lease for 21 years of Manor and Manor House with all lands appertaining, 3 water grist mills, perquisites of court, fishing rights &c in Appleby Magna from Governors to Mathew White of Great Appleby, yeoman

DE 43/77

10th April 1753 Memorandum of lease Land and mills in Appleby Magna and Measham from Governors to William Cooper of Appleby.

DE 43/85

28th January, 1756 Lease for three years of messuage with mills and lands at Appleby. Granter Wolstan Dixie, grantee Joseph Wilkes of Overseal.

DE 43/89

1799    draft lease of yearly tenancy from Governors to Joseph Wilkes

1st July 1829 yearly tenancy of close of pasture 5 acres 2 roods 2 perches to Bateman, Saddlington; closes to Thomas Heafield, messuages etc. in Appleby Magna to Thomas Taverner.


Leicester Record Office: Market Bosworth Grammar School Records: DE 43/51-111


© Transcribed by Alan Roberts, 1986

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