Cole Park (or Cowfolde) Estate
by Christina Cliff
Within the present Cole Park Estate situated alongside the Avon just outside Malmesbury is a moated medieval manor house which in part dates to the latter part of the 16th century. This house may replace an earlier building, possibly that of the abbots lodge which was said to be standing there in the year 1540. Some 12th century pottery has been found within the moat.
For much of its history it would have been a possession of Malmesbury Abbey and was probably included in the lands of Brokenborough given by King Edwin in AD 982.
Some of the land was woodland during the 12th century and may have been a deer park at that time.
The Grange on the estate would have supplied the monastic establishment with products such cattle sheep and pigs as well as domestic fowl and dairy produce.
Later, during the 16th century a royal stud was situated on the Cowfolde estate. In 1587 it is known that there were 34 mares and 31 younger horses there.
It is possible that spring and autumn courts for Rodbourne and Burton Hill Manors were held at a house on the Cowfolde Estate between the years 1559-1569. At these courts matters of an agricultural nature such as the straying of animals would be investigated together with other misdemeanours such as profiteering by butchers or millers.
There are several archaeological features that have been recorded on the estate, one of which is a circular ring bank on Cam’s Hill. This has been interpreted as either a ring motte or a possible siege castle site which may date to the siege of Malmesbury in AD 1144.