Ancient Monuments

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Woodhouse moated friary of Hopton Wafers

A Scheduled Monument in Hopton Wafers, Shropshire

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Latitude: 52.3916 / 52°23'29"N

Longitude: -2.5203 / 2°31'13"W

OS Eastings: 364688.196067

OS Northings: 277191.558456

OS Grid: SO646771

Mapcode National: GBR BV.QD6W

Mapcode Global: VH847.84GX

Entry Name: Woodhouse moated friary of Hopton Wafers

Scheduled Date: 20 July 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010372

English Heritage Legacy ID: 13682

County: Shropshire

Civil Parish: Hopton Wafers

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Shropshire

Church of England Parish: Hopton Wafers

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The moated friary at Woodhouse lies 1.2km to the north-east of the village of
Hopton Wafers. The moat is trapezoidal-shaped and measures 115m north-south,
110m wide at the southern end, and approximately 65m at the narrower northern
end. The moat arms are identifiable except in the south-west corner where
they have been in-filled and in the north where the ditch has been enlarged to
form a pond. The modern causeway on the southern side is believed to be
located in the position of the original entrance.
The moat island is known to be the location of the Austin Friary founded in
the 13th century. At present the site is occupied by a farmhouse and several
outbuildings believed to have 17th century origins. The farm buildings at the
southern end of the site stand upon a substantial platform up to 1m high. The
island also contains a deep stone lined well, gardens and a tennis court.
The Austin Friary of Woodhouse is recorded as being one of the two earliest
English foundations of the friar hermits of St Augustine. The settlement was
founded in 1250 with gifts from local families. It was unusual in that it
chose to remain remote, unlike most friaries which became established in towns
after 1256. In the late 13th century the friary had seven friars. It is also
thought likely that William Langland, author of Piers Plowman, was at one time
a resident at Woodhouse. By the time of the Dissolution records show that the
estate of Woodhouse comprised 50 acres of pasture and woodland; it was sold in
The main farmhouse with cellars, and the well in the courtyard north east of
the farmhouse are totally excluded from the scheduling. All other buildings
and out-buildings are excluded from the scheduling, but the ground below these
buildings is included.

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 seigniorial 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.
A friary is a settlement housing a community of male mendicants. It is
normally composed of a discrete group of buildings and open spaces, bounded by
a precinct wall. The friars, who depended on alms and gifts for subsistence,
devoted their lives to preaching, evangelism, and learning, and the friaries
were generally situated on the margins of urban occupation. The main
mendicant orders associated with English friaries include the Franciscans
(Greyfriars), Dominicans (Blackfriars), Austin Friars and Carmelites
(Whitefriars). Such orders were established in prominent English county
towns from at least the mid 13th Century onwards, although some of the early
foundations seem to have been rural. Due to their highly varied form and
comparative rarity, surviving examples are considered to be of national
The Austin Friary of Hopton Wafers is one of the earliest English foundations
of the Augustinians. It represents one of the more unusual rural settlements.
The moated friary is well-preserved and retains considerable potential for the
survival of archaeological evidence within its interior.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Shropshire: Volume II, (1973)

Source: Historic England

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