Scadbury Manor is a medieval moated manor house site in Chislehurst, Kent currently being excavated by the Orpington and District Archaeological Society (ODAS). It is situated in Scadbury Park Local Nature Reserve in the London Borough of Bromley.
Elizabeth I and Walsingham
The following is an excerpt from the ODAS publication "Scadbury Manor" which is available mail order (UK only) - see publications page for details.
"In 1986, the Orpington and District Archaeological Society (ODAS) began, under licence from The London Borough of Bromley, long-term excavations of the moated area and its surroundings. The purpose of these investigations was to discover more about the early history of the area. For example, the age of the moat, the position and nature of the first buildings, the ages of the moat wall and the brick-based buildings, and the methods used to construct the island and its buildings were all unknown. Also the objects found might be expected to give an insight into the way of life of past occupants of Scadbury.
View of Scadbury Manor Ruins
The subsoil around the moat is clay, which is not the easiest of soils to excavate, as it tends to be very soft in wet weather with trenches flooding readily even though covered, and it tends to crack in drier conditions. The work has been made much more difficult, moreover, and a good deal of important buried evidence has been entirely lost, owing to the doubtless well-meant excavations and conservation works of Hugh Marsham-Townshend around 1930, of which no written records survive apart from one plan of the old foundations.
Scadbury is usually associated with the Walsingham family who may have come originally from Little Walsingham in Norfolk. The first clear mention of the name occurs in 1424 when Thomas Walsingham (d.1457), a wealthy vintner from the City of London, bought the manor from a certain Thomas Dale. We do not know to what extent Thomas Walsingham actually resided at Scadbury, because he also maintained a house at St. Katherine's by the Tower where he and his wife Katherine were buried. Fortunately we have Thomas's will dated 15th March 1456, which besides his Scadbury house also mentions "Sr Thomas Sutton my prest atte Scatbury", implying that there was a private chapel there.
View of Ancient Avenue approaching Scadbury Manor
The manor was inherited by Thomas's son, Thomas Walsingham II, and then by his son James Walsingham (1462-1540) who was Sheriff of Kent in 1497. James's son was Sir Edmund Walsingham (ca.1480-1550) who was knighted for his part in the battle of Flodden. Sir Edmund later became Lieutenant of the Tower of London, and was responsible for many of the prisoners of Henry VIII; Sir Thomas More, Thomas Cromwell, and Anne Boleyn being among the best known. He charged Bishop Fisher 20s per week for his board while imprisoned. It was Sir Edmund whom Sir Thomas More addressed, in words which have become well known, when preparing to mount the scaffold: "I pray you, Master Lieutenant, see me safe up, and for my coming down let me shift for myself."
View of Scadbury Manor Ruins
Below is an aerial view of Scadbury Park. The site is open to the public at certain times - details will be available on this website. On the open weekend in August or September there is no need to book in advance, just come along.
Photo courtesy Philip Lane