Skip to main content

Scheduled Monument record MDR2780 - Ravensdale Medieval park, Ravensdale Park

Type and Period (3)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

Ravensdale Park was established by the reign of Edward I and remained a park until the 17th century. In 1540 it had a compass of 3 miles. The park contained the royal lodge of Ravensdale, which was the central lodge or manor house of the whole forest of Duffield. John of Gaunt visited in 1372 and 1374. (1) [The present parish boundary of Ravensdale Park follows an almost continuous feature on the ground, suggesting that it is the line of the park pale.] Repairs to the park gates towards Corkley [name now at SK 296448] and at "Schakesdon" [Shuckton ? SK 266438] were made in 1313/14. (2) The approximate location of the great lodge in Ravensdale Park is perhaps indicated in the Tithe Award by the two field names Near and Far Lodge. (3) There are only minor remains of the park pale which seem to be incorporated into hedge banks. A portion of bank and ditch survives at SK 27394489, surveyed at 1/2500. Slight unsurveyable remains are visible at SK 28004337 and 27054466. The Near and Far Lodge Fields have no surface indications of former buildings. (4) Sections of the park have been scheduled. The scheduled monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of the deer park and of the associated lodge, mill, fishpond and trackway, all of which lie within eleven separate areas of protection. (8) Ravensdale Park comprises a roughly oval area of land covering some 255 hectares and sloping generally south-west. This overall slope is cut into by three roughly parallel steep-sided valleys. Until the 1950s the park was divided into small hedged fields worked from six farmsteads. Since then a large part of the centre and north-west has been quarried for gravel and some of the remaining fields amalgamated. One large area of woodland, 'Old Covert', lies along the eastern boundary. The park is first recorded in about 1230 although it is probably older. It may have been one of a group of parks established by the de Ferrers family in the 12th or early 13th century within their private forest of Duffield Frith. In 1266 the de Ferrers lands were seized by the Crown and a year later were given by Henry III to his son Edmund, earl of Lancaster. Thus Ravensdale became part of the Duchy of Lancaster and remained in the possession of the Duchy until the 17th century. From the early 14th century until the end of the 15th century various events, work and appointments, typical of all medieval deer parks, are recorded for Ravensdale, including repairs to the pale in 1313-1314, poaching and stealing of timber in 1328, 1329 and 1346, the granting of trees and deer in 1379 and the appointment of parkers and keepers in 1374, 1380, 1413 and 1485. There are also records of a substantial lodge within the park, first mentioned in 1297 when it was described as a 'manor'. This lodge stood in the south-east of the park, overlooking the site of the lakes which lay on the southern boundary. The use of Ravensdale Park by both medieval kings and the earls and dukes of Lancaster seems to have begun in the early 14th century. That deer-hunting certainly, and deer coursing possibly, took place during these visits is shown by the orders to send hunting dogs to Ravensdale on three occasions in 1372. Only occasional visits by royalty are recorded in the early 15th century and in the later part of the century the park itself had been abandoned as a place of recreation, although the lodge may have been kept in repair. With the higher demand for forest pasture, the park was increasingly leased out for stock raising. Surveys carried out in the 16th century usually found trees to be in poor condition. In 1563 over 140 deer were said to be in Ravensdale Park and the lodge and pale were in good condition, but it was also recommended that the park should be disparked in order to save money. By 1598 the lodge no longer existed and in 1614 the pale was ruinous. By 1649 the Duchy of Lancaster had sold Ravensdale and it may have been around that time that the park was divided up into the fields that still exist. The park retains a number of important features, one of which is a presumed deer course, specifically a paddock course, the identification of which allows the history of this type of course to be extended back into the medieval period, with its main period of presumed use being in the later 14th century. (9) Additional landscaped pools were added in the 14th century for the hunting lodge. An 'S' shaped feature of parallel hedges 70-80 meters apart that extends for one mile has been suggsted as the earliest recorded, but yet proven deer course in Britian. The site was a favoured hunting lodge site by royalty- John of Gaunt aquired the site on the crowning of his son, Henry IV. Documents state that it continued to be royal owned until the 17th century. (10)

Sources/Archives (10)

  • <1> Bibliographic reference: V.C.H. Derby 1 1905 414 415-6 418 (J.C.Cox).
  • <2> Bibliographic reference: Cox, J. 1905. The Royal Forests of England. p 188.
  • <3> Bibliographic reference: Cameron, K. 1959. The Place-Names of Derbyshire, Part I. English Place-Name Society, Vol. XXVII.. pxi.
  • <4> Personal Observation: F1 BHS 21-JUL-66.
  • <5> Unpublished document: University of Manchester Archaeological Unit (UMAU). 2000. Hilltop Farm, Ravensdale Park: Resistivity Results.
  • <6> Unpublished document: Phoenix Consulting. 2001. Phoenix: Arch. Contrib. To Environmental Statement - Mercaston Quarry. PC/171B.
  • <7> Unpublished document: Woore, S, Yates, W & Gilks, P. 2000. A Description of the Boundary of Ravensdale Park, Muggington, Derbyshire.
  • <8> Scheduling record: English Heritage. 2004. Scheduling Notification: Ravensdale deer park, lodge, mill and fishpond. List entry no. 1021232.
  • <9> Article in serial: Taylor, C. 2004. 'Ravensdale Park, Derbyshire, and medieval deer coursing', Landscape History. Volume 26, pp 37-57, illust..
  • <10> Bibliographic reference: Wiltshire, M & Woore, S. 2009. Medieval Parks of Derbyshire. pp. 140-141.



Grid reference Centred SK 27670 43386 (1739m by 2069m)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (8)

  • EDR5064
  • EDR3594
  • EDR4698
  • EDR1616
  • EDR2442
  • EDR3660
  • EDR4989
  • EDR1288

Please contact the HER for details.

External Links (0)

Record last edited

May 17 2022 5:41PM

Comments and Feedback

Do you have any more information about this record? Please feel free to comment with information and photographs, or ask any questions, using the "Disqus" tool below. Comments are moderated, and we aim to respond/publish as soon as possible.