Building record 0167100000 - THE MANOR HOUSE, CHENIES


Remains of a fifteenth and sixteenth century mansion, mostly built between 1538-1552 and partly demolished from the seventeenth or eighteenth century onwards.

Protected Status/Designation

  • Listed Building (I) 1332531: THE MANOR HOUSE
  • Planning Notification Area: Remains of Medieval manor house and Tudor mansion at Chenies Manor


Type and Period (2)

  • GREAT HOUSE (Mainly built 1538-1552, 15th Century to 18th Century - 1400 AD to 1799 AD) + Sci.Date
  • (Former Type) MANOR HOUSE (12th Century to 13th Century - 1100 AD to 1299 AD)


Plan Form - L SHAPED
Grade I. C15 west range and south range of c.1530, altered C19. Brick house with old tile roofs, an important example of the early use of brick in the county. West range of 3 bays, right hand bay set back and 2 storey with crow-step gables is original half with C15 smoke blackened roof; centre bay is staircase tower. Original windows. Battlemented parapet. Left hand bay 2 storeys plus attic with crow-step gables. Porch. West range has semi-octagonal buttresses crowned with pinnacles. West front C19 brickwork and bay windows, part of Edward Blore alterations for Lord Wriothesley Russell in 1830s and 1840s. Stacks with elaborate patterned cut brick Tudor flues. Oriels and mullioned and transomed leaded casements, some restored or replaced C19. Inside C16, C17 panelling and mid C19 interiors. South range: lodgings built by Lord Russell. Two storeys with continuous attic called 'The Armoury'. Mullioned and transomed windows, four 1st floor oriels, much restored C19. Framed and gabled centre piece in roof. To south 6 large projections with crow-step gables incorporating numerous small chambers, privies, closets and staircases. Each crowned by 2, 3 or 4 elaborately patterned Tudor flues. Inside several 4 centred stone fireplaces. Much Tudor panelling remains and finely moulded beams (B14).
NGR to corner of west and south ranges.
Evaluation trenching by Time Team revealed evidence for a phase of 12th-13th century occupation. Two parallel ditches were excavated in Trench 2 and two pits or ditch termini in Trench 12. Pottery suggests they were functional during the twelfth and thirteenth century and other artefacts discovered in later deposits or unstratified were of the same date. There is nothing to suggest they are from a high status manorial site, the favourable location to the west of the church (which itself includes 12th century fabric) on a slight rise and the fact that the late medieval and Tudor manor occupies the site, strongly suggests this was also the site of Isenhampstead Manor, owned by the Cheyne family. The undercroft may be 13th to 16th century. It's location points to the site of the medieval manor house, which is likely to have included a hall, solar and kitchens. Elements of the medieval manor house were probably included in the first Tudor rebuild. The undercroft probably lay under the medieval solar and the hall was aligned north-south, on a similar alignment to the current Tudor manor (B17).
Extensive programme of dendro-dating of timbers in west and south ranges undertaken by the Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory as part of Time Team investigations in March 2004. The West Range produced 3 samples with felling dates of Spring 1537-Summer 1538 for the roof of the south block and 4 samples with felling date ranges of 1515-47, 1517-49 and 1518-50 for the north block, suggesting that both parts of the West Range are broadly contemporary and were constructed in about 1538. The South Range produced 7 samples with felling dates from Spring 1547-Spring 1552 for the Long Gallery roof and 1 sample with a felling date range of 1540-72 for the Long Room, suggesting that the South Range was constructed during 1552 or shortly afterwards. No evidence was found of smoke blackened timbers in the West Range and the framed ceilings of both blocks were found to be integral to the roof and therefore original features. Both floor frames of the South Range were of interest as probably the earliest firmly-dated example of the use of transverse beams with tall thin joists. Another unusual feature was the remains of red ochre-painted assembly marks on timbers in the north block of the West Range and the Long Gallery roof of the South Range. See report for details (B17).
Several buildings stood to the north of the current house, but it is not certain when they were built. A robbed out wall was found in Trench 8, on the line of a linear feature found in geophysical survey. A possible southern wall of this range was also seen in geophysical survey. Another wall was identified in Trench 2 of the Time Team excavation. The 1839 Tithe Map shows the shadow of this range preserved in the courtyard wall. This wall was found in geophysical survey by Time Team, and the geophysical survey shows an east-west aligned north range. The southern end of this range was investigated by geophysical survey and trial trenching but not much evidence was found for it.Trenches 6 and 11 to the north-west found the line of this northern range, which seems to extend into the current churchyard. Another building or range was found to the north-west in Trench 12. Two bay windows were added to this wall, presumably to improve the standard of the accommodation. The block was probably designed to overlook the formal gardens to the north. It was probably first built in a north-south orientation, however, as seen by the geophysical evidence, and then extended to the east at a later date. The medieval manor was probably not big enough to merit or cope with royal visits, this changed on the marriage of John Russell to Ann Sapcote in 1526 when Chenies was chosen as the main family residence. The earliest elements of the structural remains identified during the evaluation in Trench 12 are likely to have been built as part of John Russell's expansion of the manor house. Although these cannot be closely dated on the basis of the archaeological work undertaken, their proximity to the remains of the medieval undercroft and hence to the heart of the medieval manor suggest that these represent the first expansion of the manor house. From the limited remains excavated, it is unclear the function performed by these new buildings, although presumably some of the new structures within the complex were designed to improve the domestic accommodation offered (B17).
Finds from the excavation include fragments of metalwork, some animal bone, glass, clay pipe and ceramic building material. There was a single sherd of Early Bronze Age pottery, some 12th to 13th century pottery and lots of post-medieval and modern pottery. There was also lots of 16th to 19th century brick and tile, 16th century window glass and part of a 17th century glass vessel. A Bronze Age flint flake was also found. Some copper allow aiglets (lace tags) were also found, a copper alloy button and some other copper alloy bits, some iron nails and a spike and lead from windows. Animal bone was mainly cattle and sheep, but there was also pig and bird, possibly a lapwing. Oyster and cockle were also found. See report for more details (B17).

Sources (22)

  • <1>SBC7393 Bibliographic reference: LELAND J ITINERARY 1535-1543 (ED L T SMITH 1907 VOL 1 P105).
  • <3>SBC7672 Bibliographic reference: LIPSCOMB 3 P250.
  • <4>SBC15687 Bibliographic reference: VCH BUCKS 3 PP199-201.
  • <5>SBC12867 Bibliographic reference: RCHM BUCKS 1 PP90-91.
  • <6>SBC11831 Bibliographic reference: PEVSNER N BUCKINGHAMSHIRE (1960) PP87-88.
  • <7>SBC11277 Bibliographic reference: OS RECORD CARD TQ 09 NW 13 (FILED).
  • <8>SBC14038 Scheduling record: English Heritage. 1995. SCHEDULING LISTS OF INSPECTORATE OF ANCIENT MONUMENTS.
  • <9>SBC2635 Bibliographic reference: CAUVAIN S & P (PHOTOGRAPHS, FILED).
  • <10>SBC4877 Bibliographic reference: FARLEY M E (BCM) MAY 1983.
  • <11>SBC12302 Graphic material: PLAN OF CELLAR (FILED).
  • <13>SBC5230 Unpublished document: Francis Dimes (Geological Museum). 1976. LETTER TO MRS P FENLEY FROM GEOLOGICAL MUSEUM (BCM ACCESSIONS REGISTER 552.1980).
  • <14>SBC19433 Bibliographic reference: DoE. 1984. List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. pp18-19.
  • <15>SBC19455 Graphic material: Went DA. 1995. Medieval undercroft at Chenies Manor.
  • <16>SBC19002 Unpublished document: Buckinghamshire County Museum Archaeological Service. 1998. Historic Parks and Gardens Register Review.
  • <17>SBC22458 Unpublished document: Wessex Archaeology. 2005. Chenies Manor, Chenies: An Archaeological Evaluation of a Tudor Manor House and an Assessment of the Results. pp 25, 32-36, 38-40.
  • <18>SBC22465 Projected and video material: Channel 4. 2005. The Manor that's Back to Front (Time Team programme on Chenies Manor). VHS Video.
  • <19>SBC22686 Digital archive: Vernacular Architecture Group. 2000 onwards. Vernacular Architecture Group: Dendrochronology Database. VA vol 35 p96.
  • <20>SBC24371 Article in serial: John Phibbs. 2013. 'A List of Landscapes That Have Been Attributed to Lancelot 'Capability' Brown', in Garden History Vol 41 part 2 pp244-277. Vol 41, part 2.
  • <21>SBC24577 Unpublished document: Buckinghamshire Gardens Trust. 2015. Chenies Manor: Understanding Historic Parks and Gardens in Buckinghamshire.
  • <22>SBC25537 Unpublished document: Buckinghamshire County Council. Undated. BCC Historic Buildings Record Card.


Grid reference TQ 01519 98311 (point)
Civil Parish CHENIES, Chiltern, Buckinghamshire

Finds (5)

  • TILE (17th Century - 1600 AD to 1699 AD)
  • BRICK (16th Century to 17th Century - 1500 AD to 1699 AD)
  • WINDOW GLASS (16th Century - 1500 AD to 1599 AD)
  • FLAKE (Bronze Age - 2350 BC to 701 BC)
  • VESSEL (Early Bronze Age - 2350 BC to 1501 BC)

Related Monuments/Buildings (8)

Related Events/Activities (2)

  • Event - Intervention: Geophysical survey, trial trenching and dendrochronological dating (Ref: CHE 04) (EBC16625)
  • Event - Survey: Site visit (EBC13592)

Record last edited

Mar 6 2022 6:32PM

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