Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Whitley House moated site

A Scheduled Monument in Birdbrook, Essex

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Latitude: 52.045 / 52°2'42"N

Longitude: 0.5098 / 0°30'35"E

OS Eastings: 572212.064233

OS Northings: 241485.383328

OS Grid: TL722414

Mapcode National: GBR PFQ.PPT

Mapcode Global: VHJHJ.SVCN

Entry Name: Whitley House moated site

Scheduled Date: 12 January 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008190

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20739

County: Essex

Civil Parish: Birdbrook

Traditional County: Essex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Essex

Church of England Parish: Birdbrook St Augustine of Canterbury

Church of England Diocese: Chelmsford


The monument at Whitley House includes a moated site situated on a north-
facing slope overlooking the River Stour, 1.5km north-east of Birdbrook
Church. The moated site is rectangular in shape and measures 87m north-south
by a maximum of 85m east-west. The arms are water-filled and are between 6m
and 13m in width. A causeway, 20m wide, gives access to the island across the
south-western corner of the moat. The island is flat and has some building
rubble scattered on the western side which is considered to represent the
remains of the earlier house. The site is referred to as "Hwitele" in the 13th
The modern house, manhole and related drainage system which are situated on
the island, near the causeway, are excluded from the scheduling although the
ground beneath that part of the house which sits over the causeway is

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Around 6,000 moated sites are known in England. They consist of wide ditches,
often or seasonally water-filled, partly or completely enclosing one or more
islands of dry ground on which stood domestic or religious buildings. In some
cases the islands were used for horticulture. The majority of moated sites
served as prestigious aristocratic and seigneurial residences with the
provision of a moat intended as a status symbol rather than a practical
military defence. The peak period during which moated sites were built was
between about 1250 and 1350 and by far the greatest concentration lies in
central and eastern parts of England. However, moated sites were built
throughout the medieval period, are widely scattered throughout England and
exhibit a high level of diversity in their forms and sizes. They form a
significant class of medieval monument and are important for the understanding
of the distribution of wealth and status in the countryside. Many examples
provide conditions favourable to the survival of organic remains.

The moated site at Whitley House is well preserved and will retain
archaeological information relating to the construction and occupation of the
site. The waterfilled ditches will retain environmental evidence relating to
the economy of its inhabitants and the landscape in which they lived.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Reaney, PH, Place names of Essex, (1935)

Source: Historic England

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