Ancient Monuments

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Stanstead Hall moated site

A Scheduled Monument in Greenstead Green and Halstead Rural, Essex

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Latitude: 51.9286 / 51°55'42"N

Longitude: 0.6559 / 0°39'21"E

OS Eastings: 582705.252911

OS Northings: 228896.329202

OS Grid: TL827288

Mapcode National: GBR QJS.4N0

Mapcode Global: VHJJ6.BS3D

Entry Name: Stanstead Hall moated site

Scheduled Date: 14 February 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011463

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20733

County: Essex

Civil Parish: Greenstead Green and Halstead Rural

Traditional County: Essex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Essex

Church of England Parish: Greenstead Green

Church of England Diocese: Chelmsford


The monument at Stanstead Hall includes a moated site situated on a north
facing slope overlooking the Colne Valley. The moated site is rectangular in
shape and measures 125m north-south by 110m east-west, including the ditches.
The ditches are waterfilled, by a spring, and are an average of 10m wide. An
external bank, 4m wide and approximately 1.5m high, runs along the western arm
of the moat. The north western corner of the moat has been enlarged to form an
ornamental pond. There are remains of a 16th century brick built tower at the
outside north western corner of the moat ditch. The tower measures 8m square
and the walls survive to 2m in height. A 16th century brick built wall runs
from the tower along the outside edge of the north arm of the moat.
Access to the island can be gained across all four arms of the moat, although
the remains of a brick bridge over the eastern arm, in proximity to the road,
indicate the location of the original entrance.
The island measures 100m east-west by 105m north-south. An early 16th century
house, which is Listed Grade II*, occupies the centre of the island with
modern outbuildings situated to the west and south west of it. 25m
north of the house are the remains of a chapel. This survives as a flint
rubble structure 10m east-west by 7.5m north-south with walls 1.1m thick and
1.3m high. There are buttresses on each corner.
The chapel remains, the 16th century brick tower and the brick wall are
included in the scheduling.
The first evidence of a structure on this land dates from the reign of Edward
the Confessor when Godwin, Earl of Wessex, inhabited a manor at Stanstead.
When William the Conqueror annexed all the land, manors and farms, the estate
was given to Robert Malet, who held the office of Chamberlain of England in
1092. He was, however, banished from the realm and his estates seized for his
part in the conspiracy to undermine the authority of Henry I. The estate was
subsequently awarded to Hubert de Monchensy. The estate passed by marriage to
Walter of Colchester in the mid 13th century and again to Sir John Bouchier
soon after. In 1340 Sir John Bouchier became Lord High Chancellor of England
and was succeeded by his son, Robert, who in 1341 obtained a licence to make
his home at Stanstead a castle. It was at this point that the moat was
constructed. The manor remained in the hands of the Bouchier family until it
passed, by marriage, to Sir William Parr, grandfather of Catherine Parr. Sir
William Parr was made Earl of Essex in 1551 and soon afterwards Marquis of
Northampton. The marquis lost his lands for supporting Lady Jane Grey. Queen
Elizabeth, however, restored Stanstead Hall to him and within three days he
had sold the estate to Sir William Waldegrave. The house passed through
various hands until it was bought by George Ausrene Esq., Member of Parliament
for Stamford in Lincolnshire, who was the owner at the time of the survey
taken of Essex and its great houses in 1720. There is little known about the
manor from this point until 1907 when it came into the hands of Samuel
Courtauld, then, by marriage, to R A Butler, Member of Parliament for Saffron
Walden. In 1986 the house passed to its present owners.
The house, outbuildings, modern garden walls and driveway are all excluded
from the scheduling, though the ground beneath them 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 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.

Stanstead Hall moated site is well preserved and retains above ground several
features, such as the chapel, which are typical of moated sites but which
rarely stand above ground today. The moated site will also retain buried
archaeological remains relating to the 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. Stanstead Hall has a well
documented history and has been associated with a number of important
historical figures.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Smith, G, Stanstead Hall 978-1978
SMR NO: 8617, Information from SMR (8617),

Source: Historic England

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