MSO6926 - Post-medieval field gutter system at Emmett's Grange (Monument)


A field gutter system is visible at Emmett's Grange, probably built in the 1840s or 1850s by Robert Smith. The eroded remains of the dams and culverts can still be seen.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A substantial water meadow system, known locally as a catchwater meadow, was built at Emmett's Grange during the 1840s or 1850s. Centred at approximately SS 7520 3680, the system consists of a number of leats and gutters which roughly follow the slopes of the valley above Kinsford water. The gutters stretch across numerous fields, covering a total area of some 53 hectares, and range from 37 to 920 metres in length. Catchwater meadows used a series of approximately parallel gutters to distribute flowing water evenly over the surface of the meadow in order to prevent freezing in winter and encourage early growth in spring, thereby providing extra feed for livestock. This system appears to be connected to the farmyard at Emmett's Grange, suggesting that this was an integrated system which also distributed liquid manure as fertiliser to the fields. A number of different water sources were utilised, mostly springs, boggy patches and water from Kinsford Water, a leat being taken when the road crosses the stream. The remains of the dams and culverts can still be seen although eroded. This particular system was most likely constructed by Robert Smith, land agent for the Knights from 1848, who was considered an expert on water meadows. Emmett's Grange was a show piece to impress the other tenants of the Knight farms, and most have some form of catchwater meadow. This vast system at Emmett's was likely the first constructed by Smith. [1-7]

Sources/Archives (7)

  • <1> Report: Francis, P.T.H.. 1984. A Survey and Description of the "Catch Meadow" Irrigation Systems Found in the Exmoor Region of West Somerset. 44-47, 55.
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946 -1948. Vertical Aerial Photography. CPE/UK/1980 4446-4448 (11 April 1947).
  • <3> Unpublished document: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. Field Investigators Comment. 1994, NMR site SS 73 NW 30.
  • <4> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/96559 008-010 (7 May 1996).
  • <5> Monograph: Cook, H. + Williamson, T.. 2007. Water Meadows: History, Ecology and Conservation. Windgather Press. 1st Edition.
  • <6> Monograph: Orwin, C.S.. 1929. The Reclamation of Exmoor Forest. Oxford University Press. 1st Edition. 55, 77.
  • <7> Aerial photograph: Aerial photograph reference number . LHL CPE/UK/1980 4446-4448 (April 1947).



Grid reference Centred SS 7567 3681 (1568m by 805m) (Estimated from sources)
Map sheet SS73NE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (3)

Related Events/Activities (0)

Related Articles (1)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 73 NE30
  • National Park: Exmoor
  • Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 1099668
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 34363

Record last edited

Nov 16 2020 11:29AM


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