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Old Soar Manor

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Old Sore

In the civil parish of Plaxtol.
In the historic county of Kent.
Modern Authority of Kent.
1974 county of Kent.
Medieval County of Kent.

OS Map Grid Reference: TQ61945409
Latitude 51.26309° Longitude 0.31986°

Old Soar Manor has been described as a probable Fortified Manor House.

There are major building remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.


Old Soar Manor survives comparatively well, retaining three standing wings of the original house, and represents an early example of this monument type. The buildings have been the subject of few alterations over the years and contain many original features, illustrating 13th century, Early English architectural techniques and fashions. The garderobe block and chapel are particularly unusual survivals, the latter providing evidence for the importance of regular Christian worship amongst high status families during the medieval period. The monument includes the solar wing, attached chapel and garderobe block of a fortified manor house situated c.2km to the east of the village of Plaxtol, on the edge of the Kent Downs. The buildings, which are constructed of coursed Kentish Ragstone rubble and capped with red clay-tiled roofs, are Listed Grade I, and comprise the north eastern end of the original manor house. They date to c.1290, although there are some 14th century additions and alterations, and were restored during the 1940s. The main hall range of the medieval house, originally attached to the south western end of the solar wing, was demolished in 1780 and replaced by an adjoining farmhouse. This incorporates traces of the coursed rubble base of the original hall, which is believed to have been rectangular, aisled and timber-framed. The Grade II Listed farmhouse is in use as a private dwelling and is not included in the scheduling. The solar wing is the largest of the standing medieval ranges and takes the form of a north west-south east aligned, two-storeyed, rectangular building measuring c.10m by c.7.5m. At ground floor level is a barrel-vaulted undercroft with an inserted brick floor, originally used for storage. The first floor, reached from the undercroft by way of a newel staircase set in a semicircular tower projecting from the south western corner of the block, formed part of the private accommodation of the lord's family. This chamber is lit by two, tall lancet windows set in the north western and south eastern walls. Further light is provided by a smaller, square-headed window, with a shouldered lintel and chamfered jambs, set in the north eastern wall, just to the north west of a large, square chimney breast. In the north eastern corner is a doorway leading to the attached chapel, whilst a further, now blocked, doorway in the south western wall originally provided access to the now demolished hall range. The solar wing has an open crown-post, collar-purlin truss roof, and its defences include arrow loops in the north eastern wall at first floor level, in the north western wall of the ground floor and in the wall of the staircase tower. The chapel block, attached to the north eastern corner of the solar wing, is a roughly square building with walls c.6m long. The chapel is located on the first floor above an undercroft with an inserted, modern concrete floor, entered from the outside by a doorway with chamfered jambs and a segmental-pointed arch, set in the south western wall. The room is mainly lit by a large, pointed-arched two light window in the south eastern wall, restored during the 1940s, and two further arched windows which pierce the south western and north eastern walls. Set into the south western wall is a piscina, or stone basin, with a cinquefoiled head, trefoil and crocket decoration and a hexagonal drain, dating to the early 14th century. The chapel functioned essentially as a chapel of ease, allowing the lord's family to attend regular Christian worship at home, rather than travel to the nearest parish church at Wrotham c.5km to the north. The garderobe chamber, used as a room for storing clothes and also originally containing a latrine, is located on the first floor of the garderobe block. This is a small, rectangular building attached to the north western corner of the solar wing, measuring c.6m by c.5m. Access to the garderobe is by way of a segmental-pointed arched doorway in the north western corner of the solar. Cruciform arrow loops provided protection on all four sides. To the north east at ground floor level is an exterior, two centred arch which allowed the emptying of the underlying latrine pit. The block now has a hipped roof, although this would originally have been pitched. The external faces of all three blocks have putlogs, the regularly spaced, square holes which housed the original wooden medieval scaffolding poles used to aid the construction of the building. Old Soar Manor is believed to have been built for the influential Culpepper family, who owned the manor of Soar from c.1290 to 1601, at which time the manor was sold to Nicholas Millar. By the 16th century, the buildings were being used as a farmhouse, and the solar wing was converted into a granary during the 18th century. The manor eventually became part of the Geary estate and the monument was given to the National Trust by Mrs J Cannon in 1947. The monument is in the care of the Secretary of State and is open to the public. (Scheduling Report)

Remains of manor-house. Circa 1290 with C14 alterations, restored in the C20. Solar wing, with chapel and chamber with garderobe, of first floor hall-house, the hall replaced in C18 by Old Soar Farmhouse, evidence for which has been found in the area to the south of the solar. Exterior. Coursed rubble stone with rubble stone dressings. Steep-pitched tiled roof joined at right-angles to the roof of Old Soar Farmhouse. Chapel and chamber projections also with steep pitched tiled roofs. Chamber attached at right-angles at the north-west corner. Chapel attached at slight angle at north-east corner. Tall lancet windows in east and west ends of solar on first floor. Wide doorway on east side to undercroft with chamfered segmental-pointed head and jambs. Loophole on first floor of north side near chapel angle at left. Central square chimney-breast and window on first floor to right with shouldered lintel and chamfered jambs. Chapel with arched windows to north and south and east window blocked and extended down to form doorway with steps up. Doorway on ground floor of south side to chapel undercroft with chamfered jambs and straight segmental-pointed arch. On first floor to left blocked doorway. The original entrance to the chapel with straight segmental-pointed arch, and one jamb chamfered, the other in line with the west wall of the solar. Chamber with garderobe has cross-loop with base on each side on first floor and one on east wall at ground floor level. Two-centered arch with rubble voussoirs on north side ground floor for cleaning garderobe pit. Interior. Solar undercroft. Pointed barrel vault. Entrance doorway in east wall, small loop in west wall. Newel staircase at south-west corner giving access to solar above. Solar. Corbel on original hall side (south) to the east of doorway to solar, showing original Hall to have been aisled. Carved foliage in triple capitals, shafts finished with leaf ornament and necking and abacus scroll-moulded. Bethersden marble block above, supporting beam along wall. (These features within Old Soar Farmhouse). Segmental-pointed arch to staircase doorway into solar. West window with hollow-chamfered rear-arch, splayed jambs and seats with chamfered cappings. Segmental-pointed arched doorway to chamber. Fireplace has lost its hood, but retains chamfered jamb on one side. East window similar to that opposite but without seats. Two blocked openings on south side to left. Open crown-post collar-purlin truss roof. Chapel. Corbel on north side of east window with foliated ornament, scroll-moulded abacus and necking. Single-light window on south wall. Early C14 piscinar to left with cinquefoiled head, trefoil and crocket decoration and hexagonal drain. This building is a National Trust property in the Guardianship of the Department of the Environment. (Listed Building Report)
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:19:31

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