Ancient Monuments

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Essex Hall moated site, 700m ESE of Three Chimneys Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Ridgewell, Essex

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Latitude: 52.0314 / 52°1'53"N

Longitude: 0.5111 / 0°30'39"E

OS Eastings: 572355.547996

OS Northings: 239976.949566

OS Grid: TL723399

Mapcode National: GBR PFX.Q17

Mapcode Global: VHJHQ.T62K

Entry Name: Essex Hall moated site, 700m ESE of Three Chimneys Farm

Scheduled Date: 22 January 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013761

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20766

County: Essex

Civil Parish: Ridgewell

Traditional County: Essex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Essex

Church of England Parish: Ridgewell St Laurence

Church of England Diocese: Chelmsford


The monument at Essex Hall includes a double moated site situated on the flood
plain of the River Colne, 700m ESE of Three Chimneys Farm. The two moats are
alongside each other and are orientated north west-south east.
The smaller of the two moats is rectangular in shape and measures 72m north
west-south east by a maximum of 60m north east-south west. The northern,
western, eastern and parts of the southern arm remain visible as earthwork
ditches, 8m wide and a maximum of 1.2m deep. The northern and eastern arms
remain water filled through a spring in the eastern arm. The south eastern
corner of the moat is no longer visible at ground level, it has been infilled
but is preserved as a buried feature. The middle section of the southern arm
has been widened to form a sunken rose garden. A causeway, 3m wide, gives
access to the island across the northern arm of the moat. The south eastern
corner of the island is occupied by a house which was originally built in the
1680s and has more modern additions. It is a Grade II Listed building. Other
modern outbuildings also occupy the island. On the western half of the island
are two square-shaped earthwork depressions, aligned with the moat arms. These
are considered to be garden features associated with the construction of the
sunken rose garden. The northern arm of the small moat extends south eastwards
to form the northern arm of the larger moated site, to the south east of the
smaller one. The eastern arm of this second moated site also remains visible
whilst the eastern arm of the small moat forms the northern part of the
western arm. The southern part of the western arm of the large moated site
remains visible as an earthwork bank, approximately 0.3m high, representing
the eastern bank of the moat ditch. A barn has been constructed on the
southernmost point of this arm but archaeological features remain preserved
beneath. The southern arm of the moat is no longer visible at ground level,
but is preserved as a buried feature along a line to the north of the present
driveway. The larger moat is thus rectangular in plan and measures 90m north
west-south east by 102m north east-south west. Both the northern and eastern
arms remain water filled and are between 10m and 5m in width and 1.2m deep.
The moated island is occupied by a tennis court.
The moated site at Essex Hall is thought to be named after John `Essex' who
occupied the site in 1361. It is first referred to as Essex Hall in 1549.
The house, outbuildings, tennis court, paths and fences 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.

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.

As a double moated site Essex Hall moated site is of unusual form and a rare
survival. It remains well preserved and will retain archaeological information
relating to the construction, development and occupation of the site. Evidence
of the location of the original house associated with the 14th century
documentary source will be preserved on one or both of the islands. The water
filled ditches will retain environmental evidence relating to the economy of
the inhabitants and the landscape in which they lived.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Reaney, PH, Place names of Essex, (1935), 453

Source: Historic England

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