of  Kirkby Mallory

A glimpse into the past

This is my impression of what the layout may of looked like back in ancient times. The picture shows the moated Manor House with the village of Kirkby Mallory in the distance. As already mentioned the complex was proberbly built by Geoffrey Mallory - 1154 to 1189.        The Manor House and its lands were governed by the Mallory family until about 1347 / 1361 ? when it passed into the hands of the Abbot and Convent of St.Mary of the Meadow of Leicester. In 1534 prior to the dissolution of the monasteries the then Abbot John Bourchier leased the The Manor House to Thomas Dilk for 81 years. ( Farnham Mediaeval Village Notes III, E.303/leic216 valor eccl ). After the dissolution in 1541 King Henry VIII granted the Manor of Kirkby Mallory to Thomas Harvey. The Manor House its-self is again mentioned in Richard Dilk`s Will, he died at Kirkby Mallory in 1594.

                    The manor house with its moats lay to the North of the village, the renowned historian John Nichols in his great work "History and Antiquities of the County of Leicestershire" published in 1872 (Vol IV part II) described the remaining moats thus, "they are still remaining, a few hundred yards from the village. The area in the centre as well as the square canals of water that encircle it, are tolerably perfect and the whole being surrounded by majestic trees, afford an object at a distance and on a nearer survey form a gloomy appearance".

However a more detailed description is given in the "Victoria History of the County Of Leicester" and is as follows

          One mile to the North of the village are Kirkby Moats situated in a wood East of the highway. Enormous labour must have been enlisted in the construction of these moats which are almost square in plan each side measuring 500ft. in length. A central plateau 90ft. square is surrounded by three great ditches and a triple vallum. The innermost moat is 11ft. deep and 45ft. wide. This is surrounded by a vallum 17ft. in height. The middle moat not so wide as the inner one is filled up on the eastern side for a length of 30ft. thereby creating a rectangular platform between the two earthen walls. Another  platform is found near the northeast angle, and this is pierced by a short arm of the inner moat ( middle moat ?) which penetrates it eastwards to the confines of the outer moat, providing a elongated pit. Immediately North of this branch moat at the North-east angle of the works an entrance path curves across the two outer aggers. Indications of two other entrances are at the South-east angle and in the North side towards the North-west angle. The outer most vallum has been all but denuded of its escarpment on the western side by the heightening of the road, otherwise it is very pronounced being 6ft. deep.


The picture above is based upon my interpretation of the description given in the above text along with the tracing taken from the Manor map.The curved pathways would have denied "line of sight" to would be intruders intent on attack. The platforms mentioned could well have been constructed to provide easy access to the fish which would have been stocked in one or more of the lakes. The out-buildings would have been essential to provide cover and feed for the horses, cows and poultry. Geese would certainly have been kept as they are adept at raising alarm if disturbed.

Unfortunately all traces of the manor house along with its moats have long since disappeared but we can get some idea of what it may have looked like from the following drawings

The above scaled drawing gives some idea as to the height and depth of the engineering in comparison to the buildings.
The sketch to the right is a tracing taken from the Kirkby Mallory Manor map held in the Leicestershire County Records Office dated 1785.



The above scene   facing South,  shows what the landscape around the village of Kirkby Mallory may have looked like in the 13th / 14th century, open fields, common land surrounded by scrub, furze & heath.with some enclosure.


The origin of the Manor House with its moats and fortifications is obscure but it was probably built by the Mallory family of whom it is suggested came over with William the Conqueror. The indigenous English population were none to happy with their Norman invaders so hence the need for the new landlords, "sub-tenants" to construct such elaborate defences as seen here at Kirkby Mallory.

. For more information on life after the Norman Conquest checkout                                                        


The first known Mallory  was Richard (spellings for Mallory vary, Mallorie or Malore) He appeared in 1216 and was recorded as having lands in various counties in England being Leicestershire, Northampton, Warwick and Yorkshire. His son Geoffrey Mallory is sited as being the first Lord of Kirkby Mallory. Geoffrey also held land at Walton in the Walds, Leicestershire, and in Botley, Warwickshire. Geoffrey Mallory had two sons, Anketil who became Sir Anketil Mallory, Governor of Leicester and Leicester Castle, and Thomas who inherited the Manor of Walton in the Walds. The Lordship of Kirkby Mallory was passed from Anketil to his second son Henry Mallory
        A detailed Pedigree of the Mallory family may be found in the publication "A History of the Mallory Family" by S.V. Mallory-Smith, published in 1984 by Phillimore &coLtd Shopwyke Manor Barn, Chichester, West Sussex, PO20 2BG.


The above is a picture of the recently restored Manor House at Donnington Le Heath, a village about 8 miles from Kirkby Mallory. It is of interest here because it dates from around the same period.


Looking North towards the moat site from the edge of the village, This was just right of the group of trees on the horizon, centre of picture.

The Drawing Right

Shows a typical layout of a Mediaeval Manor House.of the period. 

These early houses were built of stone and timber. The main abode being the large hall occupying the first floor so as to avoid the damp etc. Access would have been by an external staircase on the side of the building. Heating in the winter months was provided by an open fireplace in the centre of the hall which would have been shared by the Lord and his servants alike. The lord and his family would have been on a dais, a raised platform at one end of the hall. Adjacent to this was the Solar a private room for the Lord and his family to retire to in the evening.

At the opposite end of the hall and at a right angle to it would have been the kitchen, at Donnington this was on the ground floor with its own internal staircase, but this was not always the case. Most of the ground floor would have been given over to storage.


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