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Walls to East Court

A Grade II Listed Building in Iron Acton, South Gloucestershire

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Latitude: 51.5558 / 51°33'20"N

Longitude: -2.4666 / 2°27'59"W

OS Eastings: 367747

OS Northings: 184204

OS Grid: ST677842

Mapcode National: GBR JX.F67R

Mapcode Global: VH88B.65C5

Entry Name: Walls to East Court

Listing Date: 18 February 2013

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1413221

Location: Iron Acton, South Gloucestershire, BS37

County: South Gloucestershire

Civil Parish: Iron Acton

Built-Up Area: Iron Acton

Traditional County: Gloucestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Gloucestershire

Church of England Parish: Iron Acton

Church of England Diocese: Bristol

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Iron Acton


Walls enclosing the east court at Acton Court, constructed in the early to mid-C17; altered and partly rebuilt in the C18 and C19.


MATERIALS: constructed of pennant rubble stone set in red loam and tightly bonded.

PLAN: a sub-rectangular enclosure measuring c 51m west-east and 38m north-south. The gateway in the east wall, together with its flanking walls, is separately listed at Grade I; the later buildings on the line of the west end of the south wall are not of special interest.

DESCRIPTION: the east wall and part of the north wall were rebuilt, the latter on a slightly different alignment, in the mid- to late C18 and there were further phases of rebuilding during the C19. A mid-C16 gateway which has been inserted in the east wall of the court may represent the re-located original entrance from the south court.


A moated house, the capital messuage of the Acton family, was constructed on the north-western outskirts of Iron Acton in the mid-C13, possibly on the site of an earlier manor house. It became the principal seat of the Gloucestershire branch of the Poyntz family from 1364, when it was inherited by Sir John Poyntz from his aunt, the widow of the last of the Actons, to 1683. Following the Battle of Bosworth, Sir Robert Poyntz was knighted, raising the status of the family significantly. Henry VII came to Acton Court on 23 May 1486 en route to Bristol, during a royal progress. Sir Robert remained in favour when Henry VIII succeeded to the throne and achieved the position of chancellor to Queen Catherine of Aragon. Sir Robert's grandson, Sir Nicholas Poyntz, a courtier and naval commander, inherited Acton Court in 1532 and continued to enjoy the royal favour bestowed on his grandfather. He was given a command during the Irish rebellion of 1534-5, and was subsequently knighted. The ceremony may have taken place at Acton Court when Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, and their retinue, stayed there from 21 to 23 August 1535, during the course of their royal progress of the west of England during that summer.

The house was extensively rebuilt in the early C16 when the medieval kitchen was replaced by an east range, built and decorated specifically for a visit by Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn in 1535. New service buildings were constructed to the east beyond the moat ditch (now the east court). These additions were marked the start of a major programme of rebuilding by Sir Nicholas which continued until his death in 1556.

A large base court or enclosure was created to the south of the house in the mid-C16 and formed the principal approach to the building until the early to mid-C17. Known as the south court, it was largely laid out over an area of dumped building material that was probably deposited when parts of the medieval house were demolished. The court was wider than the house as it was aligned axially with the off-centre entrance porch. In the early C19 the southern approach to the house was re-instated, though on a different alignment to its original route. The court was sub-divided with low boundary walls to either side of the track which have since been removed, and a vegetable garden was laid out in the north-east quadrant of the and an apple orchard in the western half. A range of farm buildings were also erected against the external face of the south wall. In 1849 the east end of the south wall was demolished and replaced by a barn. The first edition Ordnance Survey map of 1881 depicts these buildings and shows the access track across the court, aligning with an inserted gateway in the south wall.

In the early to mid-C17 a walled east court was laid out to the east of Acton Court, on the former site of the mid-C16 service buildings. The approach to the house which was previously from the south, via the south court, was re-orientated on a west-east access through the east court. In 1680 following the death of Sir John Poyntz (who had no male heirs) the house was sold, altered and reduced in size, becoming, and remaining until 1984, a farmhouse. During this time substantial parts of the house were demolished.

Reasons for Listing

The north and south walls to the east court and those parts of the east wall not included in the Grade I listing of the re-sited gateway and its flanking walls are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Historic interest: as a built element of the post-medieval landscape at Acton Court;
* Intactness: despite the re-building of some sections, these alterations are historic and do themselves contribute to an understanding of the development of Acton Court and its immediate setting;
* Group value: the walls form part of the context of Acton Court (Grade I) and have a close association with other listed structures and the scheduled archaeological remains at Acton Court, which together provide physical evidence as to the story of a historically-significant site with a great time depth.

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