Ancient Monuments

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Colney Chapel moated site

A Scheduled Monument in London Colney, Hertfordshire

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Latitude: 51.7146 / 51°42'52"N

Longitude: -0.3016 / 0°18'5"W

OS Eastings: 517432.972569

OS Northings: 203122.872605

OS Grid: TL174031

Mapcode National: GBR H8R.GKY

Mapcode Global: VHGPX.Q5FG

Entry Name: Colney Chapel moated site

Scheduled Date: 30 January 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010718

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20614

County: Hertfordshire

Civil Parish: London Colney

Traditional County: Hertfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hertfordshire

Church of England Parish: Shenley

Church of England Diocese: St.Albans


The moat at Colney Chapel is situated south-west of London Colney on the south
side of the River Colne. It is an oval shaped moated site with an island
measuring c.115m east-west by c.37m north-south. The moat is dry and is now
approximately only 3m wide and 1.2m deep, although it is known within living
memory to have been 9m to 10m wide. There are two accesses to the island: one
via a small path at the east end of the island, the other across a small
modern concrete bridge at the west end of the island. At the east end of the
island are the foundations of the chapel. These were partly restored in the
1920's on the line of the original chapel and include two courses of flint
wall forming a rectangular shaped structure. West of the chapel is a small
circular pond, now dry, approximately l0m in diameter with a brick built
causeway across it, which is presumed to be modern. The chapel is first
mentioned at the time of the Norman Conquest when a chantry chapel was
dedicated to St. John the Baptist on a small island encircled by the River
Colne. According to historical documents the chapel was not used for
religious services after 1471 when the last priest of Colney Chapel died.
There is a reference to the underpinning of the walls of the chapel in 1566
indicating that for a long time it remained in use as a religious site.
The footbridge at the west end of the island and the modern causeway across
the pond on the island are excluded from the scheduling although the ground
beneath them is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

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 Colney Chapel is an unusual example of a moat with the
surviving remains of a central chapel. It has a well-documented history and
is an example of the significant role played by such small chapel sites in the
religious life of the later medieval period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County : Volume II268
SMR No: 070250, Information from SMR,

Source: Historic England

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